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Saskatchewan Festival of Words Spotlight: Connie Gault

by Dustan HladyMonday, June 27, 2016

Connie Gault will be reading from her new novel A Beauty and speaking at The Saskatchewan Festival of Words, July 14-17. The festival is in picturesque downtown Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. For more information go to www.festivalofwords.com

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Connie Gault can  depress you, turn you on and make you reflect on how simultaneously complex and simple people can be within a matter of a few pages. Her new novel, A Beauty is a depression era (and later), drive through rural Saskatchewan. 

Rural Saskatchewan, among other things is the unfulfilled promise land. Like businesses, marriages and other things that start with much hope and promise communities can fall apart. We tend to think of communities; people, homes, streets, sidewalks and city councils as something to continue indefinitely. While many cities may always draw people to replace and flourish, hundreds of communities in Saskatchewan have closed and are bound for closure sooner or later.

In the last 50 years Saskatchewan has seen towns turn to villages, villages to hamlets and hamlets into ghost towns. The only non-cities that have experienced any growth in the last 30 years in Saskatchewan are bedroom communities to our major centers. Because we still hold to our agrarian past as part of our provincial identity it’s easy to forget that it is no longer a life many people in Saskatchewan live

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Connie uses the now ghost-town of Gilroy and others like it as the backdrop of her novel. Her novel is about loss. The loss of relationships (fathers, daughters,  lovers etc). What better way is there to play out that loss than in communities that were themselves lost. The communities that once thrived on the rail line. Communities once vibrant with hall dances, potlucks,  gossiping busy-bodies, movie theaters and hotel rooms. Places where people got breakfast and made love. Places that are now fields that only whisper their memory. 

Today, Gilroy Saskatchewan isn’t a place you can come across.  It isn’t a place at all, only where a place used to be. There is no physical evidence that it existed. The buildings were torn apart for scrap and hauled away as seeds for new homes elsewhere. Like so many other communities Gilroy did not survive. It lives on only in a few memories and dusty archives. And now it is immortalized in fiction by Connie Gault. Maybe what a province with a limited population and steady urbanization couldn’t do for Gilroy, Connie Gault can. In some way she can bring it back to life. Maybe in some way, it can survive, if only for 300 or so pages.

Dustan Hlady
dustan j. hlady is the founder of Middle of Nowhere music and sings and writes songs for his band, Friend Friend. www.middleofnowheremusic.com