At age 17, Duncan McCue spent five months in a hunting cabin with a James Bay Cree family. His coming-of-age memoir of those days is frank, funny and evocative. It’s also a beautiful sketch of the landscape and culture of the Cree— a nation still recovering from massive hydroelectric projects that flooded over 11,000 square kilometres of their traditional territory.
His story deftly entwines the challenges of identity for First Nations youth, the sexual frustration and hopeful confusion of the teenage years, and the realities of living in an enduring state of culture shock.
“Duncan McCue is one of the most profound and sensitive writers I’ve had the pleasure of reading. And The Shoe Boy is that rare little gem of a book. It’s indelible.”
—Joseph Boyden, Giller Prize-winning author of Through Black Spruce and The Orenda
After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.
— Phillip Pullman
What is a Nonvella?
Nonvellas are timely, memorable works of nonfiction—narrative journalism, reportage, adventure writing, memoirs, essays— that run from roughly five to twenty thousand words.
As one writer described their fictional counterparts, nonvellas “combine the dynamic thighs of a sprinter with the long-distance lungs of a mountaineer.” This means tightly-paced reads that stride like books, not news hits. They keep the good parts.
The nonvella tradition in North America reaches back to Thoreau, James Baldwin and E.B. White— and more recently Scott Russell Sanders, Susan Orlean and Jon Krakauer. (Sanders’ classic "Settling Down" appears in our first Nonvella Anthology, "Far From Home.")
We’re excited to celebrate the return of this literary dark horse by featuring some of the best emerging and established nonfiction authors in North America. Thanks for reading.