Outside by Sean McCammon

Outside

Sean McCammon

Outside

  • Sean McCammon
  • Publication date: 2021-03-11

David Woods, a first-year teacher, shares his grade-4 students' passion for nature and their reluctance to be hemmed in by classroom walls. He pushes the boundaries of risk and the constraints of school board policy, leading his class on outdoor adventures with hooting owls, curious stream creatures, and maple syrup making.

Then, during a seemingly innocuous field trip, a fateful decision leads to disastrous consequences, not just for himself but many around him. Consumed by guilt, and desperate to make sense of the seemingly random incident, David flees to Japan, going to ground with a group of Western ESL teachers in a Kyoto boarding house.

As the tragedy is recalled, a parallel narrative finds David drawn into the chaotic lives of his boarding-house companions. The group, including a food-connoisseur deejay, a crude karate student, and an Israeli draft dodger, drag David into experiences that offer hope, love, and the possibility of redemption. In a city cloaked in the ancient trappings of Buddhism and Shintoism, David Woods struggles to draw meaning from his surroundings and experiences before being called home to answer for his actions.

The Renter

The Renter, Michael Tregebov's fourth novel, is set in Winnipeg Beach, Manitoba's version of cottage country, ca. 1967. Once the preserve of the city's establishment, by the time the events of the novel take place, Winnipeg Beach has declined to the point that even the city's middle classes, including its prosperous Jewish citizens, could afford addresses there.

Michael Tregebov's would-be hero in The Renter is a young man sporting a summer tan, Keds and crisp short-sleeved white shirts, and toting a transistor radio. Bret Yeatman is out to recoup the social position his father lost through financial ruin, and is determined to realize his fantasy by marrying up and into the well-to-do family of his first perfect love, Sandra Sugarman, and renouncing his easy, promiscuous life in the drug trade. But his fantasy collides with Sandra's own — stars are crossed, and the fates will have their day.

The Renter is the latest installment in Michael Tregebov's comédie humaine Winnipeg-style, which also includes Shot Rock (2019), The Shiva (2012), and The Briss (2009). A literary translator, Michael Tregebov was born and raised in Winnipeg but now lives near Barcelona in Spain, his home since the 1980s.