Silver Donald Cameron

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The acclaimed Canadian author Silver Donald Cameron writes that the idea for his newly reissued book, The Living Beach: Life, Death and Politics where the Land Meets the Sea (Red Deer Press, 2014), occurred to him when he was interviewing a “lean, laconic, geologist,” named Bob Taylor who works at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

“A beach stores sand in dunes behind it,” Taylor said. “When it’s attacked, it draws material from the dunes for itself and for building a protective shoal or bar offshore. When it’s less stressed, it takes sand and gravel from offshore and stores it back on the beach and in the dunes.”

“You talk as though the damn thing were alive,” Cameron said.

“I think of it that way,” said Taylor.

At the time, Silver Donald Cameron thought of it as a vivid metaphor. But, in his newly revised version of The Living Beach, he argues that it’s true: the beach is alive with the right to be protected. His book explores all aspects of beaches including the plants and animals that live there, the sciences of biology, oceanography and geology that help us understand them, the politics of flood control, and beaches in stories, poetry and song.

In 2009, The Living Beach was voted one of Atlantic Canada’s 100 best books. In 2014, Red Deer Press published a new revised edition.

In this interview for the New Books Network, Silver Donald Cameron visits a beach at Parrsboro, Nova Scotia on the shores of the Minas Basin, home of the world’s highest tides.


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