Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Louise Rachlis writes: "The Songcatcher and Me" catches a glimpse of rural 1950s life"

It's a happy day for me. My new novel, The Songcatcher and Me (Ottawa, Baico, 2013, ISBN 978-1-927481-36-3, $20) has just been published, and below is Louise Rachlis's review of it.  Louise used to work for the Ottawa Citizen and some years ago, when she edited the seniors' supplements, I wrote articles for her.

The Songcatcher and Me catches a glimpse of rural 1950s life

By Louise Rachlis

Cotton capri pants and a sleeveless white blouse, cotton print house dresses with a hand knit cardigan, wringer washers, old cars, clunky tape recorders and typewriters, rock ‘n roll taking over the airwaves…Ruth Latta’s new book The Songcatcher and Me is an interlude on a porch swing, and the clothes set the tone for this 1950s tale.

Like the journalist in his twenties interviewing “Grandma” in the story who “acts astonished that an old woman can actually talk, let alone sing”, this book links two generations.

It is impressive that Ruth has written her own lyrics in the style of traditional music, as she weaves a story of a “songcatcher’s” visit to a country store as the songcatcher travels around collecting folk songs.

The Songcatcher and Me is a young adult novel with a 14-year-old narrator, but it is also a strong older adult novel with a 1950s setting of interest to those who will enjoy reliving their own early years.

The rural background will be of interest to those totally unfamiliar with it, and also to readers who are indeed familiar with the challenges of running a rural store. My own grandfather ran a general store in a small Saskatchewan town and my mother told me similar stories of farmers who paid their bills with chickens or credit.

The grandchild/grandmother interaction is a positive example for young readers in a time when such contact is rarer.

Louise Rachlis is an Ottawa writer, and author of Feeling Good: Life lessons from my friends available on .

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