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The friend uses the man's welfare cheques to support them both, handling all the daily tasks for both of them. When they land jobs as extras, his friend ends up with a bigger part and a lot of money, and ditches him. He is an extra, an added weight in the life of his friend, who can now function without him. In "An Ideal Companion", lonely Dan gains a dog, and, for a brief time, a relationship with a woman who also owns a dog.

He messes it up. But if he hadn't, and hadn't been so critical of her, she could have been his ideal companion. It's amazing what the subconscious mind can do. Michael Christie is a talented writer who knows how to listen for the multi-layered references his mind brings to the surface, knows to write them down before they make sense, and then sit back and marvel at how relevant they are. This is where the mastery of poetry can enrich the writing of fiction.

I wonder if he is also a poet. Dec 03, Ruth Seeley rated it really liked it. Just loved this collection of short stories about the DTES downtown east side in Vancouver, particularly because it doesn't just focus on what we think of as the majority of the residents of this area, the dispossessed, the homeless, and the drug addicts who flock to Pigeon Park pun intended.

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One of my favourite stories in the collection was "The Queen of Cans and Jars," about a woman who's been running a thrift shop after working for Woodwards for 20 years. Here's an example of Christie's d Just loved this collection of short stories about the DTES downtown east side in Vancouver, particularly because it doesn't just focus on what we think of as the majority of the residents of this area, the dispossessed, the homeless, and the drug addicts who flock to Pigeon Park pun intended.

Here's an example of Christie's droll wit: She stopped into the cleaners on the way to work the next day and exchanged the ticket for a green evening dress with a mink collar, almost twice her size. She laid the dress over the kitchen table that evening and waited in the living room doing a crossword.

The Beggar's Garden

Gus came home from work and entered the kitchen. She heard his keys on the counter. She heard the icebox open and close. Then, without a word, he left their small apartment. She waited up, but he did not return, that night or any other. Mar 02, Katiclops rated it it was amazing. Somehow though, in part in his simplicity, in part for his complete absolution to leave the stories separate, to present them objectively, in with an almost mathematical degree of calculation.

In the first instalment, Christie finds us vulnerable and unaware pulling us with the deftness of a tablecloth disappearing from a place setting. Skimming quickly over the backstory, with this quick nod to the grotesque, he then turns this into one of the lightest, happiest chapters as we follow-him through a flawless high: His simple ways of writing give a bare-bones west-coast feel to the whole ordeal, letting the rough grain of the wood leave splinters.

What I most liked about this book was that it most accurately mirrored life in Van. Each area of town remotely overlapping, sharing walls of a vacuous honeycomb, a hive keeping everyone contained and close but separate, the Hollowness that comes with all Vancouver books. Read the rest of the review here: Sep 30, Kendra rated it really liked it Shelves: Michael Christie's collection of stories is set in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, a rough area of the city. Read together, the stories are linked thematically by the loneliness of the characters that offers a portrait of a community in which people are struggling against separate demons.

Christie is hugely successful in creating compelling characters, whose voices speak from the margins, yet offer great insight into their world and human experience as a whole. In "Discard", a grandfather trying t Michael Christie's collection of stories is set in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, a rough area of the city. In "Discard", a grandfather trying to reconnect with his street-living grandson gravitates towards homelessness. He finds truer happiness living on the streets following his grandson than his home ever gave him.

The narrator places utter confidence in Rick, despite obvious signs he's being treated less than fairly by certain standards. However, we get the sense that the narrator's life is happier with Rick, who does take care of him, as opposed to being cared for by the social assistance system. There is a certain level of discomfort to these stories; they are about people with addictions, in mourning, in mental institutions, or with social integration problems. However, Christie creates beauty out of the ugly loneliness of the character's lives, and that's why these stories are worth reading.

Jan 17, Liz rated it liked it Shelves: To be fair I would actually rate this 2. My thoughts are that this collection of short stories are uneven, most of the stories are supposed to be character driven, but in the end I felt disappointed. I didn't feel like I was reading about people, more like words on a page. It's fiction, that doesn't matter.


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If you're a good writer you can get your reader to get involved with the character. The last story, "The Beggar's Garden," which the collection is named after, is pro To be fair I would actually rate this 2. The last story, "The Beggar's Garden," which the collection is named after, is probably the strongest work in this collection. It was the story that did get me involved with the characters, however the relationship with the wife felt very erratic and not fully expanded.

What he does well is descriptions, which are great and fresh. My problem is that in terms of characters he's too much into their head and then I can't get a sense of who they are overall. At least give me a few details about what they look like.

The Beggar and The Treasure ( Truly Inspiring Story)

My overall feelings is that I read this for a creative writing class, and I feel there are much better works that show what you should do and what not to do. As someone who spent the better part of a decade living and working in East Van I was very excited to read this book. And it did not disappoint. It was compassionate, humanizing, interesting and gritty.

Christie nails the rattling juxtaposition of Vancouver: It's hard to explain the Downtown Eastside and especially to those who stigmatiz As someone who spent the better part of a decade living and working in East Van I was very excited to read this book. It's hard to explain the Downtown Eastside and especially to those who stigmatize poverty and illness. The Beggar's Garden is best in how it disregards the hand-wringing of suburban hysterics and makes it about individual human beings.

I think many people in Vancouver would benefit from reading this book, frankly. I loved how the stories were only slightly inter-woven and I loved the perspective shifts from so many different lived experiences.


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I thought the inclusion of Riverview was particularly interesting, as well. I'd definitely recommend this book, especially to those who want to see this "notorious" neighbourhood in a more humanizing light. Aug 19, Andrew rated it it was ok Shelves: Well written fiction which reads like real life. These short stories offer sobering snap-shots of life from the margins; powerful, yet utterly depressing.

I often try to remember what it was like to not know what the crack high feels like, and I can't. In this way, crack rewrote my history. I remember my mother, who quit smoking cigarettes when she had me and said she dreamed of them alm Well written fiction which reads like real life. I remember my mother, who quit smoking cigarettes when she had me and said she dreamed of them almost every night until the day she died.

Even when we ate chocolate-chip cookies in bed while watching TV, she would tap the cookie with her index finger after each bite, ashing the crumbs carefully into a little pile on her plate. But don't take them all out, because people won't give to someone who no one else gives to--the same way people won't go to an empty restaurant. Sep 09, Damu Ko rated it really liked it. Many of the short stories in this collection are funny in such a sad way.

He finds humor in the lonely girl who calls for company, the patient of the mental hospital who is sure he is being targeted for assassination. The quality of all his characters are real and fantastic. Sep 10, Shannon rated it it was amazing. These stories are a realistic portrayal of the experience of the downtown east side. The stories caputure some important parts of Vancouver's history, including Woodward's and Riverview.

A taste of Michael Christie's collection of short stories, The Beggar's Garden

I believe that the biggest fault with this book is placing "Emergency Contact" at the front. While it does set the stage for the stories to come, and while it also is a valuable portrayal of someone who lives on the edge of society, I feel as though it does not engage the reader as much as some o Excellent read. While it does set the stage for the stories to come, and while it also is a valuable portrayal of someone who lives on the edge of society, I feel as though it does not engage the reader as much as some of the other stories and could turn away a reader that might otherwise quite enjoy the rest of the stories.

Recommended for readers with an affection for Vancouver and an interest in the downtown east side and mental health.

The Beggar's Garden: Short Story by Michael Christie

Jul 18, Alyson rated it really liked it. I found this book difficult because the darkness of the lives of the characters was hard to cope with. In spite of this, I read the entire book as I wanted to know the humans described and the lives they were living that were so different from mine. I sometimes wonder if the people I meet each day are experiencing similar inner dialogues and interactions with entities that I don't see.

I also walk through Oppenheimer Pa I found this book difficult because the darkness of the lives of the characters was hard to cope with. I also walk through Oppenheimer Park every day and sometimes consider the story of Hank in Goodbye Porkpie Hat while doing so. Although the feeling of darkness evoked from these stories is the first memory of I have this book, I appreciate the perspectives it presented and that have made such an indelible mark on my life. May 05, Adam McPhee rated it it was amazing Shelves: Excellent short stories featuring believable people from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

My favourite was the manically paced Goodbye Porkpie Hat, about a crack addict who receives an unlikely visit from nuclear scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer, who is interested in procuring some crack for himself. Christie excels at writing the down and out as well as the mentally unhinged.

King Me is what Shutter Island should have been and Discard is a heartbreakingly sad story about a grandfather trying to he Excellent short stories featuring believable people from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. King Me is what Shutter Island should have been and Discard is a heartbreakingly sad story about a grandfather trying to help his homeless grandson.

There's only one dud in nine stories, titled The Queen of Cans and Jars. Though An Ideal Companion gets kind of sappy. The stories about working and middle class people just don't hold up to the stories that feature homelessness or mental instability. Nov 09, Lorry-ann Austin rated it it was ok. First let me say that I did not finish this book and I hate not finishing a book. I very rarely walk away from a story once I have begun and perhaps this would have resonated with me more if I had continued. I just couldn't as the stories were so depressing and nothing ever happened in them.

The writing is good and the glimpse into life on the Downtown East-side of Vancouver is likely very accurate, but the stories lacked human resilience and hope. Perhaps life does lack this for many in that ar First let me say that I did not finish this book and I hate not finishing a book. Perhaps life does lack this for many in that area, but I was hoping for more here and it just didn't materialize.

Mar 24, Buried In Print added it Shelves: This review was deleted following Amazon's purchase of GoodReads. The review can still be viewed via LibraryThing, where my profile can be found here. I'm also in the process of building a database at Booklikes, where I can be found here. Aug 04, Ayelet rated it it was amazing Shelves: I just loved this book so much. They are gritty, but not bleak, honest and compelling. Christie was shortlised to a few awards for this collection and is the winner of the City of Vancouver Book Award.

And look at this gorgeous cover!

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Based in city of Vancouver - quirky stories and characters depicting real urban life [s] 3 28 Feb 21, Prior to earning an MFA from the University of British Columbia, he was a sponsored skateboarder and travelled throughout the world skateboarding and writing for skateboard magazines.

Born in Thunder Bay, he now lives on Galiano Island with his wife and two sons. Books by Michael Christie. Trivia About The Beggar's Garden. This area which includes part of Hastings Street is infamous This is a fine collection of linked short stories. Christie worked in homeless shelter in the rough Eastside neighborhood of Vancouver BC. Clearly he was touched by the people he met there, for the A former professional skateboarder, he is a senior writer for Color Magazine, an award-winning publication that celebrates skateboarding culture.