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Reviews: Vancouver’s east side

Reviews

Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is never far from the news. Because of this it can feel at times like a neighbourhood made ephemeral: the ugly coalescence of so much scattered despair, made over into a caricature of dysfunction, gone to press and as quickly forgotten. Two new books work to answer this. A Thousand Dreams is authored variously by a local professor, a journalist, and a former Vancouver mayor and draws from these distinct points of contact with the neighbourhood to form a thoroughgoing and accessible retrospective. The book’s lens ranges from the heady economic days at the turn of the 20th century to examinations of current issues such as the ongoing battle waged by an obscurantist federal government against the Insite safe injection clinic. Narrower in scope but no less prescient is Missing Women, Missing News, which examines print coverage of the Robert Pickton trial and argues that prevailing media discourse around the case serves to excuse social marginalization and in turn to “camouflage the functioning of structural and cultural systems of domination.”

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