WINNER of the EDNA STAEBLER AWARD for CREATIVE NON-FICTION
From its opening image of the varied workforce at a Vancouver postal station, Stardust is a series of literary essays defining Bruce Serafin's world.
The teenage Serafin is a captivating figure, freshly arrived from the United States and eager to immerse himself in the particular delights of a still largely frontier-era Vancouver. As a young man enrolled at SFU, he refuses the perm pressed upon him in a Chinatown barber shop and eavesdrops on his rowdy neighbours in a Powell Street apartment house. Working in the post office, Serafin discovers Michel Tremblay's The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant and realizes for the first time that writing about working-class people is not only possible, but desirable.
Later, Serafin embarks upon an intimate criticism of touchstones of Western culture. Roland Barthes and Daniel Defoe are counterparts, he suggests, and shows why. Leonard Cohen was read so avidly by the young proto-hippies of the era not because of his writing, but because he physically modelled a way to be cool. The ceremonial objects collected by anthropologists, according to Serafin, are not actually art but something else again. Serafin critiques literary magazines and western novels. He discusses the work of Don DeLillo, Terry Glavin, Steve McCaffery, Northrop Frye, and William Henry Drummond. There's an engagement to these essays that lightly sketches the workings of a mind forever learning.