E/view: 40 Below

Edmonton writer Jason Lee Norman takes a 'love it or hate it' approach to chronicling the one season that, sometimes, never seems to go away.

BY PAULA E. KIRMAN

Jason Lee Norman's '40 Below'
WHEN you live in Edmonton, winter is a fact of life. It’s long, it’s cold, and it’s often dark. It’s also the topic of conversation – we all talk about the winter at some point, even if it is just passing expressions of love or hate.

Such sentiments are expressed throughout 40 Below, an anthology of writing by current and former Edmontonians about winter. Edited by current Edmonton Public Library Writer-in-residence Jason Lee Norman, 40 Below contains a huge variety of voices: those who love it, hate it, miss it, reminisce about it, or who simply tolerate it. The range of writing styles also varies, from short stories, to essays, to creative non-fiction, to poetry, and even one piece of visual artwork.

Most of the submissions are short and sweet, which allows for a number of both established and emerging writers to fill the pages. Followers of Edmonton’s literary scene will find work by recognizable names like Alice Major, Thomas Trofimuk, Michael Hingston, and Jessica Kluthe, but more prevalent are lesser known writers and even a couple of youth.

As a life-long Edmontonian, I found some of the sentiments of missing Edmonton’s winter to be quite interesting. I’ve always felt that things are easier to romanticize from a distance. There are also a few entries about people’s first Edmonton winter after moving here, which cause me to smile and nod. The quality of the writing is consistently good and there are enough thoughts and experiences concerning winter to prevent the pieces from becoming repetitive.

Published by editor Jason Lee Norman’s own company, 40 Below’s success demonstrates that times have changed in the publishing industry. But the anthology’s success truly lies in the thorough covering of its subject matter in a compelling manner.

Edmonton writer Jason Lee Norman took his '40 Below Project' to Pecha Kucha Night 15 last March. Check out the clip below.

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