2 hrs 30 mins
Pub date: February 28, 2005
Rights: Canada and US
Ian Ferguson won the 2004 Leacock Medal for Humor for this outrageously funny book about growing up destitute in the far north. Beginning with the dramatic events surrounding his birth (including a paddlewheel ferry heading for destruction, a legendary rowboat trip, and a life-and-death race against time), the richly recalled events of Ferguson's life and a vivid cast of loveable misfits make for a taut and appealingly idiosyncratic tale. In 1959, just one step ahead of the law, Hank Ferguson (the Ferguson brothers' con-artist dad) headed north in a beat-up two-toned 1953 Mercury Zephyr with his pregnant wife, Louise. He got as far as remote Fort Vermilion. Passing himself off as a teacher at the local "Indian school," he settled his ever-expanding family in what was then Canada's third poorest community - an isolated aboriginal village where plumbing and electricity were unheard of and luck seemed reserved for Whites only.
In this spirited reading, originally broadcast on CBC Radio in September 2004, Ian Ferguson's gifts as a comic actor rise exuberantly to the fore. Winner of an Audiophile Earphones Award, mixing truth and fiction with feckless abandon, Village of the Small Houses exists somewhere between Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes and W. O. Mitchell's Who Has Seen the Wind.
"A narrative that is as funny (from wry to laugh-out-loud) as it is touching . . . his quirky characters generally emerge unscathed and vibrantly alive." - Ottawa Citizen
"This story is a joy to hear. Much like listening to an old-fashioned storyteller spinning a yarn . . . It is imaginative, droll and revealing . . . [Ferguson] often sounds like he is winking at us." - Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Effectively narrated by the author, Village Of The Small Houses is two and one-half hours of thoughtful, entertaining, and highly recommended listening." - Midwest Book Review