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Michael Christie
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The Beggar's Garden: Short Story

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  318 ratings  ·  47 reviews
In the titular story of Michael Christie’s critically acclaimed debut collection, The Beggar’s Garden, Sam Prince moves into the shed behind his house as his marriage falls apart. He meets a local panhandler and tries to help him sort out his life—even though he can’t find the courage to fix his own.

The Beggar’s Garden follows a diverse group of characters, from a bank man
ebook, 50 pages
Published November 13th 2012 by HarperCollins (first published January 1st 2011)
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Michael Christie has a way of looking at people and seeing the core of their being. He sees not the “discards” of society as he tells these stories but the people with dreams, ideas and feelings. He tells their stories with dignity, truth and understanding. I enjoyed every story within these pages.
The plights of the people in these stories are told in a way that brings their fears, paranoia and addictions to the reader. We share in their mania and look into their pasts.
Very well written. Chris
Kristi Barr
Read. This. Book. Life changing read. SO much more than another bleak collection of stories about the Vancouver East Side. Don't be scared to dive into this book - the eloquent and compelling stories within serve to remind us that humanity takes many forms - and that what makes us different from each other is our histories. Michael Christie reminds us that there are people behind the stereotypes. With his authentic voice, he makes us think what we would do, who we would be, how we would act and ...more
I never thought I was a “short stories” person. I dunno, I just kind of formed this idea of a person who is constantly drinking coffee, carries a moleskine and liquid gel pen around with them and is constantly writing down pithy phrases and making “ironic” observations about the people around them so that they could one day write their own pathetic volume of short stories and give it to people at Christmas because no one will buy it. THOSE people were short stories people.

So #whostosay why I pu
This collection of short stories is set in the “riotous and hellish, but strangely contained, slum of [Vancouver’s] Downtown Eastside”. This area which includes part of Hastings Street is infamous across Canada. As one of Christie’s characters observes: “It was as if the country had been tipped up at one end and all the sorry b!@#$%$s had slid west, stopping only when they reached the sea, perhaps because the sea didn’t want them either.”

Told from various points of view – the grandfather who lea
A great collection of Vancouver-set stories from former pro skateboarder Michael Christie.

My favourites are the first story, Emergency Contact, which is both laugh-out-loud and break-your-heart good, and the best story in the collection in my opinion, The Extra, and An Ideal Companion.

Vancouver's "notorious Downtown Eastside" (ALWAYS gotta say it like that) was a place I didn't know about until seeing the documentary series about the cops who patrol the area, The Beat. It's on OLN, and sometime
Faces swing into our orbit and out again like comets, trajectories forever altered by Oppie’s generous crack policies and philosophical musings. He is electric and alive. His interest is insatiable. Lecturing as he walks, he relates mind-bending scientific concepts with ease and grace. We are a team. Although nobody recognizes him, I feel proud to be partying with such a distinguished man of science. Prostitutes approach him and he respectfully tells them he has no interest in “erotic labour” bu ...more
This was in interesting group of semi-interlinking stories, each stand-alone, that had some great spots. Being from Vancouver, and all the stories set in Vancouver, and each story with a tie to the Downtown East Side, I could imagine each of the characters, where they walked and lived.

I wish I could have given this book 5 stars but there was just "something" missing to warrant the fifth star. Enjoyable read though.

Well written fiction which reads like real life. These short stories offer sobering snap-shots of life from the margins; powerful, yet utterly depressing.

"Sometimes I do worry about lasting damage, tracks laid down that can never be picked up, that sort of thing. I often try to remember what it was like to not know what the crack high feels like, and I can't. In this way, crack rewrote my history. I remember my mother, who quit smoking cigarettes when she had me and said she dreamed of them alm
I found this book difficult because the darkness of the lives of the characters was hard to cope with. In spite of this, I read the entire book as I wanted to know the humans described and the lives they were living that were so different from mine.
Now that I work on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, I think of this book often. I sometimes wonder if the people I meet each day are experiencing similar inner dialogues and interactions with entities that I don't see. I also walk through Oppenheimer Pa
Ruth Seeley
Just loved this collection of short stories about the DTES (downtown east side) in Vancouver, particularly because it doesn't just focus on what we think of as the majority of the residents of this area, the dispossessed, the homeless, and the drug addicts who flock to Pigeon Park (pun intended). One of my favourite stories in the collection was "The Queen of Cans and Jars," about a woman who's been running a thrift shop after working for Woodwards for 20 years. Here's an example of Christie's d ...more
To be fair I would actually rate this 2.5 stars instead of three. My thoughts are that this collection of short stories are uneven, most of the stories are supposed to be character driven, but in the end I felt disappointed. I didn't feel like I was reading about people, more like words on a page. It's fiction, that doesn't matter. If you're a good writer you can get your reader to get involved with the character.

The last story, "The Beggar's Garden," which the collection is named after, is pro
Michael Christie's collection of stories is set in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, a rough area of the city. Read together, the stories are linked thematically by the loneliness of the characters that offers a portrait of a community in which people are struggling against separate demons. Christie is hugely successful in creating compelling characters, whose voices speak from the margins, yet offer great insight into their world and human experience as a whole.

In "Discard", a grandfather trying t
One of my favourite things about this book is Christie's titles. They're genius.

"Emergency Contact" is about a woman who is completely isolated, and creates nonexistent relationships with certain paramedics she finds reasons to call again and again. At one point she's asked to give her emergency contact info, and asks to pass because she has no one to write down.

"Discard" is about a kid who is abandoned by his parents, raised by his grandparents, and ends up homeless on the streets of Vancouver
George Ilsley
Sadly, this collection did not live up to its hype. It was not an uneven collection, but that observation is a way to say that none of the pieces stood out. I did not feel that any of the pieces actually became an excellent short story. Christie's skill is his evocative descriptions, and he is especially fond of turning nouns into verbs (don't knock it - that's where "mushroomed" got its start).

My favourite story, An Ideal Companion, is about obsessive dog owners (an overly common Vancouver bree
The stories fit nicely into one another, like Timothy Taylor’s Stanley Park. They contain everything you would anticipate from a Vancouver book, deftly demonstrating the poignancy, empathy and awareness of it’s author. As if articulating the faults of the city absolves us from sharing in it’s guilt. Somehow though, in part in his simplicity, in part for his complete absolution to leave the stories separate, to present them objectively, in with an almost mathematical degree of calculation.
In the
Adam  McPhee
Excellent short stories featuring believable people from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. My favourite was the manically paced Goodbye Porkpie Hat, about a crack addict who receives an unlikely visit from nuclear scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer, who is interested in procuring some crack for himself. Christie excels at writing the down and out as well as the mentally unhinged. King Me is what Shutter Island should have been and Discard is a heartbreakingly sad story about a grandfather trying to he ...more
E.R. Yatscoff
Ten short stories, not really my type of reading. A peek into people's lives in the big city, people who come up against homeless people or who are poor and just surviving. Well written, good imaging, everything's there as the author delves into these characters.
Excellent read. These stories are a realistic portrayal of the experience of the downtown east side. The stories caputure some important parts of Vancouver's history, including Woodward's and Riverview. I believe that the biggest fault with this book is placing "Emergency Contact" at the front. While it does set the stage for the stories to come, and while it also is a valuable portrayal of someone who lives on the edge of society, I feel as though it does not engage the reader as much as some o ...more
Owen P
A striking series of portraits.
The down and out characters are viewed humanely and with care.
An applause-worthy book!
A thought-provoking collection of stories that makes one question poverty and wealth, sanity and intelligence.
Lorry-ann Austin
First let me say that I did not finish this book and I hate not finishing a book. I very rarely walk away from a story once I have begun and perhaps this would have resonated with me more if I had continued. I just couldn't as the stories were so depressing and nothing ever happened in them. The writing is good and the glimpse into life on the Downtown East-side of Vancouver is likely very accurate, but the stories lacked human resilience and hope. Perhaps life does lack this for many in that ar ...more
Debut collection of short stories, mostly set in Vancouver's Downtown East side. I liked the setting and some of the description that Christie brought to the stories was just beautiful.

There were some stories I liked better than others. Christie used to work with mentally ill people, and 2 of the stories deal with mental illness. He does a great job of showing the lives of street people and the mentally ill. I felt this collection was a bit uneven, but still showed a lot of talent.
Wonderful glimpse at the random interconnections between the best, worst and saddest of the human conditions. Well-written short stories that stay true to the community portrayed.
I just loved this book so much. This is Christie’s first book; his stories about marginal characters in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side are long and involved and read like mini-novels, which is pretty much my favourite kind of short fiction. They are gritty, but not bleak, honest and compelling. Christie was shortlised to a few awards for this collection and is the winner of the City of Vancouver Book Award. (And look at this gorgeous cover!)
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These stories show the rougher side of Vancouver, but they do so with a touch of grace. Michael Christie is a psychologist who spent many hours working with the homeless and mentally ill people of Vancouver. He brings different aspects of their situations to light with poise, humour and a sensitivity that reminds us that we are all human together, despite our differences in circumstance.
This is more of a 3.5 rating for me but I didn't have the heart to downgrade it to a 3.

I liked the collection but nothing really stood out as being excellent. They are a well written collection of stories exploring a side of Vancouver that it would rather didn't exist.
I agree with Kristi. Our lives are filled with us rushing from here to there. Many of us make sweeping generalizations about people we see around us. Few of us take a moment to get to know the person behind the initial impression. This author allows us a moment to enter their worlds. I loved the images. Crisp, thoughtful, and sincerely written. I look forward to more by this author.
This collection of connected short stories is really quite good. First work for this author. The stories are very thought provoking and original. The stories are set in Vancouver. I pretty much ran the gamut of emotions as I read these stories, ranging from laughing myself sick with some of them to wiping tears from my eyes due to heartbreak from others.
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  • Better Living Through Plastic Explosives
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  • Monoceros
  • A World Elsewhere
  • The Little Shadows
  • A Good Man
  • Extensions
  • Once You Break a Knuckle
  • The Antagonist
  • L'Énigme du retour
  • The Free World
  • Requiem
  • This Cake Is for the Party: Stories
  • The Withdrawal Method
  • The Matter With Morris
  • How Does a Single Blade of Grass Thank the Sun?
  • Whirl Away
  • The Ever After of Ashwin Rao
MICHAEL CHRISTIE’s debut book of fiction, The Beggar’s Garden, was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, a finalist for the Writers’ Trust Prize for Fiction, and won the Vancouver Book Award. Prior to earning an MFA from the University of British Columbia, he was a sponsored skateboarder and travelled throughout the world skateboarding and writing for skateboard magazines. Born in Thunder Ba ...more
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