Sterling Silver is a marvellous selection of short stories, essays and reports, drawn from over 25 years of Silver Donald Cameron's writing. Like visits with an entertaining and deeply committed friend, Sterling Silver takes on suicide and love, fear and community and craftsmanship - and a Canada in which a good life should still be possible. Cameron has won National Magazine Awards for travel writing, agricultural reporting, service journalism and cultural journalism, and this selection demonstrates the extraordinary range of his subjects. It's also full of fun.
Silver Donald Cameron opened his archives of published and unpublished work, and trusted his editor, Ronald Caplan, to make the selections - turning Sterling Silver into a rare opportunity for his fans and a fine introduction for new readers. In an Afterword, Silver Donald offers his own comments on Caplan's choices. He thought the editor's selections created an impression which was "too personal, too confessional, too … egotistical," but in the end, he approves. "Sterling Silver isn't the book I thought it would be," he writes,"and maybe that's just as well."
* the widely-anthologized short story "Snapshot: The Third Drunk," which was also adapted as a CBC radio drama
* observations on rural life, including "A Life Outside the Cash Economy," "Ambrose Pottie Gets his House" and "Us Rustic Red Adairs"
* discussions of learning and education
* the long-suppressed essay on suicide, "In the Spiral"
* high-spirited comedy, notably "How I Faced the Fuel Crisis," "The Immortal Volvo" and "Confessions of a Cape Breton Moonshiner"
* contemplations of excellence, fear and death such as "Fear of Fearing," "At the Hour of Our Deaths," and "Just Let the Music Play"
* cultural reportage, including travels with musical groups like the Atlantic Symphony and The Men of the Deeps, as well as "The Legacy of Stan Rogers" and "Farley Mowat, Prophet," which won the National Magazine Award for Cultural Journalism
* polemics on politics and history, including a manifesto for Maritime independence and a bitter reflection on Scottish chieftains
* and numerous other pieces.
Read a chapter from Sterling Silver here.