COLLINS, Bob




Author Tags: Fiction, Humour

Beneath an ‘aw shucks’ literary veneer, Bob Collins is a wry and sly observer of human nature in the tradition of Stephen Leacock and Mark Twain. The funniest self-published book you’re probably not going to hear about is Collins’ Out Standing in Their Field (Stone Pillow $18.95), the first of his two books to be shortlisted for the Leacock Medal for Humour. Booksellers and librarians sometimes assume the title is Outstanding in Their Field and therefore can’t easily call it up on their computers. Oddly packaged with black & white photos of children, these sophisticated stories about a farming couple are far subtler than their packaging might lead one to assume.

Collins' wistful, junior version of television’s Wonder Years, a first novel called Summer of Wonder: The Misguided Romance of Hap Fitzpatrick (Stone Pillow Press, $18.95), didn't give Alice Munro a run for her Giller, but this nostalgic recollection of first love was also shortlisted for the Leacock Medal. Whereas Collins’ two preceding collections of short stories and barnyard philosophy were downright funny, this gentle and wistful tale of eight-year-old named Hap “wallowing blissfully in the glorious confusion of childhood” penetrates the veneer of even most hardened sophisticate with all the relief of Vicks Vaporub.

The joke is that Bob Collins writes from a cluttered desk on the family farm in the Alberni Valley and knows how to operate heavy machinery. He knows people. He knows animals. He knows people are animals. He loves them anyway. Self-described as ‘a carpenter by trade, a dairy farmer by vocation, a cottage resort owner by circumstance and a writer by accident,’ Collins is also a construction contractor who first published his stories in an agricultural monthly, Country Life in B.C. (founded by Ma Murray in 1915). A lifelong B.C. resident, Collins has has lived in New Westminster, Dog Creek, Vancouver, Surrey, Springhouse, Errington, Nanoose Bay, Kelowna, Coombs, Delta, Sandspit, Mackenzie, Nanaimo, Burnaby, North Bend, Boston Bar, Donald Station, Golden, Powell River, Youbou, Duncan, Campbell River and -- since 1980 -- Port Alberni. He attended nine schools and called it quits after 11 years. He married Ann Milne in 1973. He lists his ancestral background as half men, half women.

CITY/TOWN: Port Alberni B.C.

DATE OF BIRTH: November 9, 1948

PLACE OF BIRTH: New Westminster B.C.

EMPLOYMENT OTHER THAN WRITING: Carpenter, dairy farmer, campground/cottage operator

AWARDS: Shortlisted, Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour, 2001; 2005

BOOKS:

Out Standing In Their Field, The Rural Adventures of Hap and Edna (Stone Pillow Press 2000). Short stories.
Dance With the One That Brung Ya, More Rural Adventures With Hap and Edna (Stone Pillow Press 2002). Short stories.
Summer of Wonder: The Misguided Romance of Hap Fitzpatrick (Stone Pillow Press, 2004). Novel.
Making Hay While the Sun Shines: Hap and Edna Ride Again (Stone Pillow Press, 2009).

[Alan Twigg / BCBW 2009] "Humour" "Fiction"

Summer of Wonder: The Misguided Romance of Hap Fitzpatrick
Press release (2004)



Bob Collins' new book takes readers back in time to Hap’s—and likely their own—childhood, to the comparatively simple days when their biggest worry was which baseball card to trade and their greatest joy was the last day of school and the prospect of the endless summer ahead. For those who’ve ever been a kid—or still are—the story will bring back a rush of memories of the hopes and dreams, as well as the naiveté, of those early years. It’s a hilarious journey through the glorious confusion of childhood. Illustrated with black and white drawings, the book also boasts a unique cover design: that of an antique cigar box, one that Collins has kept from his own youth, and it comes packed with the treasures of a boy who came of age in the mid-20th century


Leacock Medal Shortlisting
Press Release (2005)



For Immediate Release: 30 March 2005

Stone Pillow Press is pleased to announce that the new “Hap Fitzpatrick book”—the third offering by Alberni farmer-writer Bob Collins—is in the running for a national book award. For the second time in his writing career, Alberni Valley author Bob Collins has been notified that one of his books is shortlisted for the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour. Collins’ first book, Out Standing in Their Field: The Rural Adventures of Hap & Edna, was a magnificently funny book of short stories and was shortlisted for the Leacock Medal for Humour in 2001. This time, it’s for his first full-length novel, Summer of Wonder: The Misguided Romance of Hap Fitzpatrick. The setting of “Summer of Wonder,” is 8-year old Hap’s childhood, during the summer break between grades 2 and 3. The story is a nostalgic—and sometimes ruefully hilarious—recollection of a boy’s first love that takes readers back in time to Hap’s—and likely their own— childhood, to the comparatively simple days when their biggest worry was which baseball card to trade and their greatest joy was the last day of school and the prospect of the endless summer ahead. The story will bring back a rush of memories of the hopes and dreams, as well as the naiveté, of the glorious confusion of childhood. Illustrated with black and white drawings, the book boasts a unique cover design: that of an antique cigar box, one that Collins has kept from his own youth, and it comes packed with the treasures of a boy who came of age in the mid-20th century.

“This book will penetrate the veneer of even the most hardened sophisticate with all the relief of Vicks VapoRub. Whereas Collins’ two preceding collections of short stories and barnyard philosophy were downright funny, this gentle tale of an eight-year-old named Hap ‘wallowing blissfully in the glorious confusion of childhood’ is wistful and memorable,” says Alan Twigg, of BC Bookworld.

About Bob Collins: Self-described as “a carpenter by trade, a farmer by ocation, a cottage resort owner by circumstance and a writer by accident,” Collins is also a construction contractor who first published his stories in an agricultural monthly, Country Life in BC (founded by Ma Murray in 1915). Beneath an “aw shucks” veneer, Collins is a wry and sly observer of human nature in the style of Leacock and Twain. He is a lifelong BC resident. [from BC Bookworld Author Bank: http://www.abcbookworld.com/]

About the Leacock Award: The Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour is an annual award that started in 1947. A panel of judges is appointed from across Canada. Canadian publishers and writers await the announcement of the winner each year. A short list of five books is published in March and the winning book is announced in April. The Medal and cash award are presented at the award dinner in Orillia, Ontario. The award has attained an international reputation and is the only award of its kind for Canadian humour.