In No More Worthy
(Oolichan, 176 pages, $14.95 paper), William Chalmers fleshes out an actual event that took place in 1912 in the Okanagan Valley and, in the process, turns it into a symbolic tale, one that resonates: fact imbued with the truth of fiction. Boyd James, eighteen years old, a North Dakota farmer's son, wants to get back home, and in order to get the money to do so, robs a general store. Then, unaware that Frank Wilson, a forty-three-year-old tobacco worker, is sleeping off a drinking binge in it, he tries to get away in a stolen dory. So it is that fate throws the two men together onto a path that will lead them both to jail, one to a death sentence.
In the background to these individual lives, changes are blooming: airplanes, motorcycles, automobiles, and trains are entering the valley. And it is Chalmers's infusion of this technological invasion into what is otherwise a mythic "wild west" environment that gives the novel an unusual dimension, as if one transparency had been put on top of another.