LITERARY LOCATION: Desolation Sound Marine Park, at the confluence of Malaspina Inlet and Homfray Channel, 32 km north of Powell River. Park created in 1973; named Desolation Sound by Captain George Vancouver in 1792.

Ever since his father started developing 38 lots of private property on five kilometres of oceanfront next to the Desolation Sound Marine Park, at the northern end of the Strait of Georgia, in the 1970s, former pop musician Grant Lawrence was compiling experiences for his memoir, Adventures In Solitude: What Not to Wear to a Nude Potluck and Other Stories from Desolation Sound (Harbour $26.95). Few stories are more memorable than 'Smoke on the Water', Lawrence's recollection of attending a nude potluck as a boy. Feeling obliged to accept an invitation from the "left-over hippie" Aldo, who lived only five minutes boat ride away, all four fully-clothed Lawrence family members were aghast to discover the spectacle of innocent, pot-smoking, naked bodies cavorting everywhere in the adjoining bay. Lawrence's book received the Bill Duthie's Booksellers' Choice Award and was nominated for the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction and the Hilary Weston Writers Trust Prize for Nonfiction, the richest annual literary award for a book of nonfiction published in Canada.

ENTRY

In Lawrence's second book, The Lonely End of the Rink: Confessions of a Reluctant Goalie (Douglas & McIntyre 2013,) the narrative passes back and forth between tales of Grant's life and a history of hockey. It reached the top of the BC Bestsellers List in November of 2013 and won the Bill Duthie Bookseller's Choice Award in 2014.

According to publicity materials: "He was an undersized child who wore thick glasses and knee-braces, and he understood, first-hand, what it was like to be in the attack zone of the hockey-obsessed jocks at his school. For Grant, bullying and the violent game of hockey seemed to go hand-in-hand. Yet he was also enamoured with the sport, and eventually learned that playing goalie on a hockey team isn't all that different from playing in a band and that artistically-minded wimps find just as much joy in the game as their meathead counterparts."

Grant Lawrence rose to prominence as the host of his CBC Radio 3 Podcast with Grant Lawrence and Grant Lawrence Live on CBC Radio 3 and Sirius 86. He was also frequently heard on various CBC Radio One programs such as DNTO, Spark, All Points West and On the Coast. He still visits the family cabin in Desolation Sound during the summer.

As a pop music aficionado, Grant Lawrence must have known before he decided to publish his memoir of being lead singer for his widely-travelled, never widely-touted rock band, The Smugglers, that he had some hard acts to follow. Having co-founded the Hard Rock Miners in 1987, Michael Turner had already set the bar high with Hard Core Logo (Arsenal), later made into a movie. John Armstrong's Guilty Of Everything (New Star, 2001) was shortlisted for a B.C. Book Prize for recalling his exploits as Buck Cherry in Vancouver's old-school punk scene with The Modernettes. And Lawrence would have been aware of the shadow cast by DOA frontman Joe Keithley's memoir I, Shithead (Arsenal 2004), now into its third printing. The good news is Lawrence's reworking of his tour diaries for Dirty Windshields: The Best and Worst of the Smugglers Tour Diaries (D&M $26.95) contains some of the best and funniest writing you're going to find just about anywhere. Of course, there's no shortage of dismal circumstances and raucous tomfoolery, but Lawrence's description of the band's arrival in Los Angeles during the aftermath of race riots, in response to the acquittal of police for beating Rodney King, is riveting. "Los Angeles reeked. The stench was disturbing combination of exhaust fumes, campfire smoke and burning plastic..."; This book cannot be dismissed as a self-indulgent paean to boy-band glory days; it's a finely edited, very smart and wholesome On The Road. Okay, so Jack Kerouac didn't come home to his doting Mom and Dad, but Lawrence has his own style, his own adventures. Even if The Smugglers were mediocre at best, the writing deserves a chorus of praise.

SEE REVIEW OF DIRTY WINDSHIELDS TOWARDS BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE.

Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
Adventures in Solitude: What Not to Wear to a Nude Potluck and other stories from Desolation Sound

BOOKS:

Adventures in Solitude: What Not to Wear to a Nudist Potluck and Other Stories from Desolation Sound. (Harbour, 2010). 978-1-55017-514-1 $26.95.

The Lonely End of the Rink: Confessions of a Reluctant Goalie (Douglas & McIntyre 2013) $26.95 978177100-0772

Dirty Windshields: The Best and Worst of the Smugglers Tour Diaries (Douglas & McIntyre, 2017) $26.95 978-1-77162-148-9

AWARDS:

Adventures in Solitude: What Not to Wear to a Nude Potluck and Other Stories from Desolation Sound won the Bill Duthie Booksellers' Choice Award

[BCBW 2017]