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July 16 , 2007

Two Strand River


Boyish Leslie, a retired competitive swimmer turned children’s librarian, and girlish Alan, a fashionable hairstylist, are living parallel lives of thwarted desire, but soon they will be utterly transformed as the middle-aged shaman, Mildred McKenzie, opens the crack between the worlds and hurls them into an alternate reality.

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THE SERENITY PRAYER God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. ­­—Reinhold Niebuhr

Originally published in 1976, Two Strand River is one of the earliest literary novels to star transgendered characters. Reprinted twice, it has long been considered a cult classic and led the assault on the “gender binary” thirty years before that term was in common use. Saturated with folklore, B.C. First Nations mythology, and fairytale allusions, the book takes the reader on a fantastical trip through the gender mirror. 

“After machismo, the city-person. Keith Maillard, in his first novel, in his androgynous vision of the urban world, is as contemporary as a hair-do, as old as a nursery rhyme. His typical dreamer is Alan/Ellen, the self making erotic love to the self. His place is Vancouver, that ultimate and dreamed Canadian city.”
Robert Kroetsch

“Although genetics can’t save the day, magic realism does, and the concept of gender becomes at first fluid, then meaningless, then finally redemptive in some way that can’t be and probably doesn’t need to be explained too coherently…. One of the best gender-bending novels now in print.”
Kirkus Reviews

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