LARRY’S RIVER – Do you know the Houdini of Larry’s River? Did you know that people used to pay fees for the best pews in church, those at the back? If you are interested in local tales featuring childhood hijinks, hair-raising brushes with death and everyday community life, Jude Avery’s most recent book Joie de Vivre-Love of Life should be on your ‘must read’ list.
Joie de Vivre is Avery’s second book. The first, Forgotten Acadians, was an historic account of Guysborough County’s Acadian communities. This offering, Avery told The Journal, is more about tradition and stories focused mainly on his home community of Larry’s River, “There’s just so many great folklore stories … My purpose was to preserve a lot of the folklore tied to this area.”
Avery was prompted to write this book due to the success of his first book which “sold out within 38 days of publication. So, it told me that the area and our people were really ready to learn about themselves and to preserve their history and their culture.”
While the book took about a year to write, Avery said he’s been compiling the information his entire life, adding, “These are stories I have been storing in my memory for many, many years. Some, I just jotted down notes to remind me and others I just stored in my databank [memory].”
The book headed to the publisher just as the pandemic swept across the globe, which delayed publication until this month.
When asked who he pegged as the audience for this book, Avery said mainly people of this area “but it also appeals to a general audience – anybody that grew up in a rural, isolated community could identify with this … How do you survive in isolation? I gave a specific example of how we did it, but other communities could read it and say, ‘Oh, we did something similar.’”
Writing is a learning process and Avery said what he learned more than anything else while writing this book, “was that our joie de vivre was really our means of survival. It is almost innate; you have it within you … There is just no way you can survive a lot of these trials and tribulations, unless there is something to look forward to and something to get you through it. I guess that is what Acadians were really noted for – because of the hardships that we witnessed, and our ancestors witnessed; there was always a joie de vivre, a sense of joy at certain things that were simple, creative and imaginable that got us through moments of hardship.”
A good writer is always influenced by what they have read. Two books that Avery notes as influencing his work are Jesse Thistle’s From the Ashes: My Story of Being Metis, Homeless, and Finding My Way Home and Dan Paul’s We Were Not the Savages: Collision Between European and Native American Civilizations. He said these books demonstrated that while life has its drawbacks and difficulties, “it is how you overcome the difficulties that you are measured … The truth becomes known, and you are able to move on.”
Joie de Vivre-Love of Life can be purchased by contacting Avery directly: firstname.lastname@example.org or 902-317-0016; by contacting New World Publishing (Canada), www.newworldpublishing.com; or at any Chapters/Indigo bookstores. It will soon be available online from these companies.