Arleen Paré recommends “The True Story of Ida Johnson”


very once in a while, we invite authors to share recommendations for your next great read. Today, Arleen Paré shares a compelling reading recommendation, one that should not fade with time

What book would you recommend to readers?

The True Story of Ida Johnson, by Sharon Riis, published by Douglas & McIntyre.

What is the book about?

It’s about a woman, a waitress, who burns down her trailer home, her husband and children, who escapes detection, and tells her story to a coffee shop customer, a mysterious listener—from her past.

What makes it a “great read”?

It’s beautifully written, the characters and the situation are strangely mysterious, and it is about choices that ordinary working class women often must face. And it is short. The short part is a blessed relief, given the usual length that books are these days. Where are the editors?

Why do you recommend this book to readers?

I recommend it because it has been a favourite of mine for many years, is hard-hitting, and because it is now largely forgotten.

Who might be interested in this book?


What drew you to this book?

The title, the length.

How many times have you read this book?


Can you describe your favourite part or element of the book?

The relationship of the two main characters is intriguing, compelling, strange, haunting.

Anything else readers should know about this book?

Fasten your seat belts.

Arleen Paré is a Victoria poet and novelist, whose books include Paper TrailLeaving NowLake of Two Mountains and He Leaves His Face in the Funeral Car. Her fifth, a poetry collection titled The Girls with Stone Faces, will be released by Brick Books in the Fall, 2017. Leaving Now was listed as one of the annual All Lit Up Top Ten Books. Paré has been nominated for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize, and has won the Victoria Butler Book Prize, the CBC Bookie Prize and the Governor General’s Award for Poetry.

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