In August my friend Barbara and her dog Costello and I drove to the Okanagan Valley in B.C. for a short holiday at her friend’s summer home. Our idea was to get away from work and from all thoughts about work. On the first morning, sunny and warm, I had a lie-in with Bannock, Beans & Black Tea by the writer/comix artist Seth (Drawn & Quarterly). In this small, beautiful, disturbing and touching book, Seth has compiled, edited and illustrated his father’s stories of growing up poor—really poor—in St. Charles, P.E.I., during the Depression. Seth’s task, as he reports in his comic-book-style preface, was to imagine the artifact, arrange the stories, illustrate them, give some background and, trickiest of all, decide which versions to include: the dynamic, humorous renditions that his dad, John Gallant, told and retold through Seth’s childhood, or the bitter “tales of awful desperation… focused on shame and food” that Gallant wrote down as an old man. Adventure stories of fishing for eels and hunting rabbits, for example, become cries of hunger and rants against Gallant’s good-for-nothing father. My plan had been to not think about work, but I was as taken by Seth’s labour as interlocutor as I was by the stories themselves.