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Poet, bioregional essayist, and explorer of post-colonial landscapes in decay and transition, Harold Rhenisch combines his father's character with his own, and in a series of luminous, closely-linked stories, takes the reader on an emotional journey through humour, joy, heartbreak, horror, spiritual catastrophe and redemption, to present a second look at history. This is war from a child's eyes, up close and personal, from silly pranks, to playing war games in the forest and, finally, to miracles of healing as the fabric of the world collapses and must be rebuilt. Hansel, his mother, and their 16-year-old Russian maid, tend an escaped French P.O.W. in their basement in a small town on the edge of the Black Forest during the Second World War. During the Occupation, this act simultaneously saves their lives and also brings them close to death, as they attempt to save the innkeeper's daughter after a brutal rape by occupying Moroccan soldiers and the horrific punishment enacted upon them by the French command. This story is not fiction. It is the art of story-telling that creates for us Hansel's fairytale village -- at once a magical world of mermaids, witches, carnival characters and eelfishers, and also a sulfur-choked, brutalized wartime town. The Canadian farmer who was Hansel returns to this German town to relive the dreams, stories, and terrors he experienced fifty years before. In incandescent, emotionally-charged prose he seeks among the ruins of society to understand love and his place in the world as a man. This is a powerful and captivating evocation of innocence and storytelling from one of Canada's master prose stylists.