Backwater Mystic Blues

By Lloyd Ratzlaff

Shortlisted for the Non-Fiction Book Award and Saskatoon Book Award, 2006 Saskatchewan Book Awards

“Between the voids at the deepest and farthest reaches of our science, there is this eternal now…”

In this second suite of intimate essays, Lloyd Ratzlaff summons the secret hiding spots, makeshift rafts, and uncomplicated childhood joys that lay the foundations for adult philosophy. In tune with the vivid simplicities of the sensuous world and the honour of unassuming people, Ratzlaff explores the disguises shaped by religion, family, and memory as he recreates the discovery and illumination that his past has offered.

Whether you sit back and savour the ribald yarns of Sandra Dee or pick up a bit of Christian dating advice circa 1950s, remember, the tombstones are talking, and the child’s cookie box found in the river may contain miracle or misery—but you won’t know until you open it.

Backwater Mystic Blues is an extended aide memoire of . . . everyday objects and gestures, retrieved from memory and made to live again in a phosphorescent prose that ‘restores the world to word’ as he writes and whistles in the dark.”
– Myrna Kostash

“The essays sing the blues, touching readers as music does, not through linear development or logical exposition but through scenes that resonate emotionally: past reverberates with present and ordinary stuff is transposed into mystical keys . . .In this second instalment of reflective, irreverent, worshipful essays, Ratzlaff bends our usual angles of vision and sheds light and colour on religious experiences of one kind or another.” – Edna Froese, Journal of Mennonite Studies

“The drag of the mundane and the mixed rapture/terror of the divine both find expression—the mundane made keenly relevant and the divine fully believable and grounded . . . Consider it narrative poetry . . . a series of intimate snapshots . . . and find the soul of a poet and a friend within its pages.” — Martin van Woudenberg, Pacific Rim Review of Books


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Paperback, Epub


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