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The Tent Peg

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  85 ratings  ·  6 reviews
In "The Tent Peg," award-winning novelist Aritha van Herk uses her unerring perception and impressive literary skill to capture the mystical mood of the Arctic and the people who are drawn to it. In this intriguing story, a young woman who disguises herself as a man to work in a uranium prospecting camp deep in the Yukon mountains. J.L. is on the run from an empty heart an ...more
Paperback, 220 pages
Published October 1st 2005 by Red Deer Press (first published 1981)
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Best Canadian Literature
271st out of 736 books — 618 voters
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This book starts off in realism with an interesting format - each character views events from their own perspective. As the novel moves on it moves more into a mystical realm but only subtly so (brief communions with bears).

I found each character to be believable and true to themselves. The backdrop of an exploration camp is interesting (but black nights in the summer in the Yukon? this kept throwing me whenever it was mentioned).

I think for those who know their Bible stories better would get mo
May 19, 2010 James marked it as to-read
I took a creative writing class with her... can't say I liked her or believed half the things she said. Still, I'm curious to check out something she's written (that would make me one of few, I suppose). Maybe her writing won't be as pretentious, pedantic, and opinionated as she was in person? Only time will tell!

On a side note, I just checked out her website ( where she refers to herself as a 'public intellectual.'

A public intellectual. As opposed to what? A 'private'
This is beautifully written and engrossing; I was on the edge of my seat expecting a climactic event more devastating than what actually occurred, given the continual references to a Biblical account of someone being killed.
Nadine Doolittle
Did I like The Tent Peg? Yes, I guess I did. I can't imagine giving it less than 4 stars because it's well-written and absorbing. But the story itself was slim or maybe I didn't get it. The main character heals the men of their various hang-ups. A goddess of sorts in the Arctic. The theme or the handling of theme is dated. I enjoyed it nevertheless.

Bit of a backhanded review/praise; Van Herk was writing for her time and from her experience. It's lyrical and metaphorical. Sometimes a gal just wa
This is one of the books which have stuck with me for ages. I must have read it first when I was in my teens (which means at least 30 years ago), and since then probably a dozen times. Everything: the format, the plot, the setting, the characters, the narration style, everything is just fresh and interesting, and it has beautiful moments. Whenever I pick up this book, I can't put it down until I'm through with it. For me, it's a winner.
Gord Higginson
I read this novel a quarter of a century ago and I still remember swaths of it...fascinating tale, evoking the Biblical story of Ja-el.
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Aritha van Herk is universally recognized as one of Canada’s most original and imaginative writers. She is the author of a number of highly acclaimed books. She is a passionate lover, critic and devourer of all aspects of Calgary, from its unpredictable history to its unfulfilled potential.
More about Aritha Van Herk...
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