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Requiem for My Brother

— shortlist, 2007 British Columbia Award for Canadian Nonfiction
— winner, Northern Ontario Reads, on CBC Radio

Praise for Requiem for My Brother

" Requiem for My Brother is an exquisitely written account of a sister's feelings for a lost brother. But it is more than that: it is a powerful exploration of place and of the importance of landscape in family memories."
-Alexander McCall Smith, author of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series

"This is a very honest book, uncompromising and deeply affecting. Beautifully written, it is really a meditation on families and on how much of even those we are closest to remains unknown to us."
-Nino Ricci, author of the Lives of the Saints trilogy and Testament

"What an eloquently honest, sharply observed requiem for a complicated man. As a bonus, it is also the warm but unblinkered portrait of a family and its profound connection with the North. Unfortunate in many ways, Dave Botsford was rich in love, as this moving memoir demonstrates."
-Katherine Ashenburg, author of The Mourner's Dance: What We Do When People Die

We were always, simply, the three of us.A meditation on the life and untimely death of my brother, Dave. It is a story rooted in the deep connective tissue of our relationship as brother and sister, and our growing up in northern Ontario. That landscape, its bodies of water, bush and rock formations, shaped our family (three children-myself the eldest, Dave in the middle and Sara the youngest) and informed choices we made as adults. The story begins and ends in that place.

We were always, simply, the three of us. This essential definition transcended differences in character, and temperament and bridged geographical divides as we got older, but its profound implications lay dormant for years. It was only over the final decade of my brother's life that I came to experience and understand the true meaning of being the older sister.

Three weeks after our brother's death in summer 2001, Sara and I travelled north. The journey down Lake Beaverhouse was a celebration of his life. We call it "Dave's Day." This day is the framework for the book.

Requiem for My Brother is a memoir grounded in a meditation on water, the bush.and northernness. Lake Beaverhouse in northern Ontario and the Coppermine River in the Arctic hold the pure qualities of northernness. But there are also dark currents in the northern way of life, incongruities and contradictions that are hard to confront, now. They molded me and my siblings, and they shaped our shadow mother, from whose image our eyes and memory also slide past.

The bush covers and chokes memories, as it reclaims the landscape of our childhood and completely obscures the contours of memory. But water, flowing and still, releases and loosens the story of my brother's life and death, and soothes the consequent grief.

Excerpt | Q&A | Where to buy the book

...from the album of a northern childhood

...from the album of a northern childhood

". we still do not talk easily about death. We fear the event itself and the feelings we might experience when it happens ."