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Digital Subscriptions > Quill & Quire > SEPTEMBER 2016 > On the edge

On the edge

Water gives way to desert sand in Kevin Patterson’s sophomore effort, which reconsiders the war novel – and Canada’s role in Afghanistan

Over a body of work that moves from non-fiction to fiction and back again, Kevin Patterson has carved a place for himself and his characters on the edges of the world. The cold of the Arctic in his 2006 debut novel, Consumption, gives way to the heat of Afghanistan, captured in his sophomore novel, News from the Red Desert – to give but one example from a literary output in which science and art, city and tundra, solitudes and multitudes alternate. Life’s extremities have a hold on Patterson.

In person, the Manitoba-born, B.C.-based writer of these narratives of extremes seems fairly centered, perhaps even middle of the road. Gone is the thirtysomething, heartbroken guy who, in 1999, documented an ocean voyage from Canada to Tahiti and back in The Water In Between. That sailor is 17 years and several lifetimes removed from the 51-year-old father of three (aged 16, 11, and nine) he is today. When we met in late June in the Toronto headquarters of his publisher, Penguin Random House Canada, he solidified this impression with his loose-fitting, white linen shirt, the official uniform of middle-aged dads in the summer.

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About Quill & Quire

Kevin Patterson meditates on war and terror in 'News From the Red Desert.' Changing spaces; 3 booksellers' survival strategies. Anosh Irani's new novel 'The Parcel' is of exceptional merit. It is both unsparing and a testament to the human spirit.