THE ROAD TO VERMILION LAKE, BY VIC CAVALLI
Fiction. Harvard Square Editions (2017). 256 pp.
The Road to Vermilion Lake is set in the sublime interior mountains of British Columbia. There a young blaster's helper and industrial first-aid attendant (Thomas Neal Tems) meets and incredibly beautiful self-declared medieval woman (Johnny Nostal) and their electric love literally rocks the entire ecosystem.
Layering medieval, pioneer, and contemporary settings and fusing them within the context of depth psychology and the enduring submerged legacies of trauma, the novel affirms healing and the strength of love while also exploring the comic and yet potentially tragic relationship between the Canadian wilderness and the human desire to impose technological design and structure upon the few remaining pockets of untouched nature we have left.
Vic Cavalli studied the visual arts and photography as a young man, and later in life discovered the potential depth and force of literature. In graduate school, he concentrated on the complex interpenetrating relationships between literature and the visual arts. He has been teaching Creative Writing at the university level since 2001.
Additionally, I felt there was too much attention to exposition and not enough on the forward progression of the story. While the descriptions of British Columbia are beautiful and clearly told through the lens of an artist, I mentioned above that this novel began with the promise of a literary thriller. But that plot point was resolved almost as quickly as it began and, thinking back, I'm not sure I could tell you exactly what this story was about. Exposition, while necessary, creates distance between a reader and the story. In order to draw the reader back into the story the author has to make something happen. It was clear to me that much happened after the first few chapters.