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  • Lake of Gulls Reviews:

    From Linda Turk, The Thunder Bay Chronicle February 24, 2004:

    We've all heard the saying, "You can't go home again." But what if you really couldn't, because home wasn't there anymore?

    That's how Lake of Gulls opens, with Patrick moving into middle age and unable to revisit the home of his childhood in what was once the town of Kiosk.

    "How could it happen? How could an entire town disappear? A school, a post office, a large sawmill, almost a hundred homes -all gone. This was not a ghost town, with vacant houses and empty stores; this was a void. There was nothing except the odd driveway or path leading to a front door that no longer existed. Even the train tracks were gone."

    The townsite had been appropriated years before to fit its new status as part of a provincial park. The authorities had, as much as possible, returned it to a natural state, but for Patrick there's nothing natural about it. He hears the voices of his childhood friends, sees his family busy at daily things, all in a landscape quickly growing up with scrub and creeping alders.

    From there, Patrick goes to visit an old friend from childhood, Kenny Campbell, who lives in Sudbury It seems ironic to Patrick that Ken- ny; a free spirit who loved nothing more than being out in the bush, should be living in a suburban bungalow in one of the country's most highly industrialized cities.

    Neither man has seen the third friend of their childhood trio in many years. Suzette Labelle works in the big world of big-city television news, but she knows her career is losing momentum -until her boss sends her to Kiosk to cover the protest Ken has decided to stage, against the destruction of homes, a town, a way of life.

    Events conspire to bring old friends together, but there's an air of distrust that Suzanne finds hard to deal with. Her profession stands in the way of her old friends' trust.

    Ken uses the skills acquired during a lifetime in the bush to lead the police on a wild goose chase intended to attract media attention. Suzette's professional objectivity is strained, as are her loyalties, and the three friends begin to realize there are more forces at work than they could ever have imagined.

    The suspense of the story carries through right up to the final pages, with an exciting helicopter chase and an unresolved mystery . . .which won't be given away here.

    Readers who recognize Richard Gould's name will remember his first book, Red Fox Road, and know they can turn to him as a teller of tales that deliver their fair share of thrills and chills, of conspiracies and young love gone wrong.


    The Globe and Mail, August 29 2003, M. Cannon

    Lake of Gulls, by Richard Gould, Canadian Publishing, 400 pages, $19.99
    I really liked Richard Gould's first novel, Red Fox Road, a solid work with lots of promise. His second, Lake of Gulls, is more ambitious and, as a result, more complicated. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Patrick and Kenny are young men returning to Kiosk, their youthful northern Ontario home. But Kiosk doesn't exist. The town has been erased, its inhabitants scattered. Kenny wants someone to know what happened, so he stages a media circus, leading police on a wild chase in the bush. A journalist, also from the lost town, comes to cover the story, and all three find themselves caught in the history of Kiosk's death. Gould is taking on a lot: government treatment of native interests, the problems of the North, corporate greed. It's a bit much for one book, but it works better than you might expect. And the setting is great.

    Shelley Deroches, London Free Press July 19, 2003.

    Separate griefs reach critical mass.

    If you've ever been glued to the television by conflicts such as Oka and Ipperwash, wondering how social protest escalated into violent standoff, Robert Gould's latest fiction will be a compelling read.

    Lake of Gulls begins with Pat James standing quietly in the late summer warmth, facing Kioshkokwi Lake and scanning the landscape for any evidence of his childhood home. He has returned to his home town of Kiosk prepared to find only ghostly reminders of his past, but instead he finds absolutely no sign of the once-thriving community.

    The Northern Ontario town, on Crown land, had stood in the way of tourism interests and has been erased.

    For the James family, forced relocation was more than an solitary trauma. It was the first of many that finally eroded the family's foundation, leaving Pat a sense of isolation he never understood.

    Revisiting his past with a childhood friend, he realizes others, too, suffered the consequences of political indifference and corporate coercion.

    Soon, childhood confusion and lingering sadness are replaced by anger. A quest for understanding leads to demands for answers -- and restitution.

    Gould's exploration of the political and social forces that collide in Lake of Gulls is exhaustive. His imagery is vivid and evocative. Although protest is at the heart of the book, it is by no means the only compelling theme in the story. Love, friendship, loyalty and the undeniable connection between people and their environment are equally weighted.

    The main characters' pasts are full and complex. Initially this requires patience from readers, but the effort is rewarded. Gould's story gains momentum throughout the book and is, at times, riveting.

    Jim Beatty, Vancouver Sun, April 22, 2003


    Struggling Canadian author Richard Gould . . . has at least one fan -- Premier Gordon Campbell has read Gould's latest book and loves it.

    It is fiction based around the real town of Kiosk at the northern tip of Ontario's Algonquin Park. The town was essentially shut down by the Ontario provincial government. It is the distinctly Canadian story of big government running roughshod over the history and entitlement of a handful of forest-dependent residents in a small town.. . . Sound familiar?

    So impressed was Campbell by the Ontario novelist's latest work, Lake of Gulls, the premier wrote him and gushed over the imagery, touching emotions and resplendent descriptions of the wilderness.

    But how did Campbell, a voracious reader who enjoys nothing more than browsing in bookstores, find Gould's obscure tome, which has sold only 800 copies and has had almost no publicity outside of North Bay, Ont.?

    It seems Campbell, while in Opposition, agreed to send Gould a copy of a speech he had delivered on the constitutionality of aboriginal rights. Gould needed the speech for research on the book.

    In return, when the book was completed last year Gould sent Campbell a copy. The premier read it, loved it, and promised to get a copy of Gould's first book, Red Fox Road, which received acclaim in the Globe and Mail.

    Although Lake of Gulls is a fictional story, it is based on real events in a real town and has several political messages for someone like Campbell, involving the balance between native and non-native rights, the role of government and the risks associated when government services are centralized.

    "I really believe that this massive move toward centralization is possibly damaging to our society as a whole and I think that is really evidenced by what happened in the town of Kiosk," Gould says.

    "Some of the darkest moments in our history involve the relocation of one group of people to satisfy the needs of another. That's exactly what happened in Kiosk and it's probably happening in British Columbia, Alberta and Nova Scotia and we don't even see it. We do see it when we're talking about native issues but we don't see it when we're talking about anybody else. If [there's] anything Gordon Campbell could gain from this book, it would be that realization."

    For a premier who has infuriated natives with a controversial referendum while presiding over the closure of B.C. schools, hospitals and courthouses, maybe Lake of Gulls will engender a kinder, gentler Gordon Campbell.

    "It's such a thrill to find a book that you just can't put down. Lake of Gulls is just that!" Hugh Smith. Almaguin News, March 26,2003. 26,                                                                                                                                

    Doug Mackey, in Ontario Community Voices. November 10 2002.

    "The novel is full of vivid, well-developed characters, confrontations, chases, intrigue and murder. I read the book recently and couldn't put it down."

  • RED FOX ROAD Press Reviews:
  • From the Toronto Globe and Mail Saturday January 22, 2002.

    Globe Review

    Last modified: 02/03/06