Our telephone su-sued. Click, click, the call ended, but the noises did not stop. Be quiet now, and wait a moment more before replacing that heavy black receiver. I could hear it, a soft, sleepy-sounding breathy air that echoed carefully all down the line. A hollow waiting sound. Somebody’s out there. Someone’s listening.

– from The Water Here is Never Blue

One of the greatest joys in having a book out there in the world is hearing from readers. I’ve had people track down my phone number, search out my mailing address, and find me online.

Today another letter arrived in the mail, this one from a reader who worked with my father on Timor and who remembers me from that time. He confirms suspicions that Dad was “keeping an eye” on things in the many countries to which he travelled and reporting back regularly to embassies and to Ottawa – not, as he writes, “in the James Bond type category” but in a way that was considered pretty normal for the times. Call it what you will, a spy is a spy is a spy.

Let me tell you more. Here is chapter 7 of The Water Here is Never Blue.


Oh my, this land is full of things outsized and over big. Creatures grow much larger than they do in other lands, much larger than they should. Continue reading


A place where water hangs in air

Summer has hit and Montreal is hot hot hot. People moving slowly slowly in the steamy air.

Summers like this take me back to Guyana days, and I remember in sharp detail the smells and sounds, the way tropic air lay heavy on the skin, the pace all living things took that was so different from the way they’d move if they were in Vancouver.

Let me take you there. Here is chapter 1 of The Water Here is Never Blue.


In Guyana the night is dark, true dark. In Guyana the night piles thick and velvet, Prussian blue from the ground beneath your feet to high above your head. It is all around you, not confined just to the sky, but laying too along the ground, at the side of the road, in the air above the canal water, and lurking among the grasses and the trees. Thick, so thick is the night that it comes in close and nudges you. It has a pelt that brushes cheeks, a weight that curls in the nape of your neck, and it fills your mouth with black and wet solidity. It is alive. Alive with sounds and smells, something you can almost hold in your palm. Night there is not like anything I had ever felt.

Continue reading

Let’s Play Mash!

It’s Mashramani and in Georgetown the Guyanese are winin’ in the streets. Mash is a celebration of the Republic’s official birthday, February 23, 1970. These days the colours are all bright bright, costumes flash their feathers and spray glitter on the crowds, while the King and Queen sweat and sway majestic to the jump-up soca beat. But, back in 1975 when the Republic was still fresh, Guyana showed its sprankious spirit with whatever came to hand. Sometimes that meant being a Fat Cat with a dressed up donkey. Let's Play Mash2border