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290 pages (Winter 2005); 11.4MB downloadECW Press
; ISBN: 1-55022-676-2
"This book is Mitchell's tribute to his late mother. He has illustrated it with her paintings and with his own photographs of her empty house and studio as a meditation on loss, family and identity."
- Canadian Art Magazine
Nominated for a Governor General's Award for Non-Fiction
Molly, an eighty-year-old artist, drowns in her bath while living alone on Vancouver Island. When her son, Toronto writer and photographer Michael Mitchell, arrives from the east the next day, he finds a studio full of her paintings and a treasure trove of family papers that take him on a romantic journey to the far corners of the world and back as far as the early 18th century. Illustrated with Molly's art and her son's evocative photographs of her empty house and studio, The Molly Fire collages dance cards, war diaries, menus, naval dispatches, and news reports to create a vivid and moving memoir as well as a poignant meditation on loss and identity.
"This strikingly poignant, non-linear narrative is a reflection upon the nature of family, memory and mourning."
"An unconventional book. More anthropological than a memoir, too fragmented for any strong narrative lifeline, this book is a miscellany in the best, most exploratory and curious sense of the word. ... Often the text has the quality of a scrapbook, with programs and recipes and letters stuck between family snapshots."
- Quill & Quire
"Using his photographer's eye for detail, Mitchell nicely catches the intimate times that play such an integral part in our own private dramas ... this is a wonderful work, well worth tracking down."
- Monday Magazine
"Mitchell's writing is highly visual, restrained but enquiring.... His interests, like his mother's, are eclectic, and the narrative slips through time and space with all the irrational ease of a thought prompted by a glance."
- Merilyn Simonds, The Globe & Mail