An Atomic Memoir

Port Radium, NWT. Copyright Peter C. Van Wyck
Julie Salverson
Julie Salverson
James Flint, photo by Philippe Matsas
James Flint, photo by Philippe Matsas
Lines of Flight, An Atomic Memoir by Julie Salverson
Lines of Flight, An Atomic Memoir by Julie Salverson

Julie Salverson reads from her new book, Lines of Flight: An Atomic Memoir, is a memoir of atomic poetics seen through the eyes of a Canadian playwright and theorist. In conversation with British author and journalist James Flint, author of The Book of Ash (Viking Penguin, 2004), which was inspired by the life of atomic artist James Acord and the forthcoming Midland (Unbound, 2017).

Salverson’s Lines of Flight asks the question, “How do we live, knowing what we know?” Salverson, whose parents were prominent artists during the golden era of CBC radio and television, struggled to find stability in a turbulent childhood. Obsessed with safety and overwhelmed by the world’s tragedies, she became an anti-nuclear activist, determined to help save the world. She gradually lost faith in activism, and in her forties, on the verge of giving up belief in anything, she discovered a little known connection between Canada’s north and the atomic bomb that fell on Hiroshima. This story follows her travels along the Highway of the Atom and her quest to find beauty in a tragic world.

This book is an atomic poetics, a piece of travel writing, the chronicles of a lost tourist and ethnographer. Gathered together in this way these narratives amount to a highly unique piece of personal and intellectual work, the sober work of mourning for what has been lost and hope for what has not.