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Reading Welcome Home: Travels in Smalltown Canada should be on everyone's list of ways to be more Canadian. McLean, the well-known author and radio host of CBC's Vinyl Café, takes his readers on a cross-country tour that avoids the highway in favour of the "long way." He aims to weave a tapestry of the nation by introducing his readers to the people and smalltown life in seven communities. Drawing inspiration from the venerable Farley Mowat, McLean writes with an impressive understanding of the deep-rooted connections between land and people, geography and history. In Pleasantville, Nova Scotia, for instance, McLean meets up with a mechanic who makes sculptures out of sledgehammered engine parts: "He stuck the sculpture [of a man] beside the highway, in front of his shop. It looked lonely out there, so he made the man a metal wife out of spare parts. He called her the Iron Maiden." From the first chapter on Ferryland, Newfoundland, to the last on Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, McLean's gifted storytelling and instinctive understanding about what makes Canadians unique shine through on every page. --William Newbigging [via]