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Conversations with cars inspires Maple Ridge author’s new book

Book launch for Jack Emberly’s new book, Cars I’ve Known and Loved Before, on Monday, Oct. 23

Environmentalist Jack Emberly has always been a person to name his favourite cars.

Nancy was a 1951 Ford Prefect Emberly named to honour his first serious girlfriend.

Years later when the Maple Ridge writer became a columnist for The News, he had Parker, his old, but classy, 1991 Buick Park Avenue.

Some readers might even recall several intimate conversations Emberly had with Parker in his columns, Along the Fraser, conversations revisited in his new book called Cars I’ve Known and Loved Before, along with the introduction of Calamity Jane, a 1994 Plymouth Voyager.

“Parker was a trusted friend who would listen without interruption or criticism when I vented about local politics, road hogs, road rage, environmental threats to streams and fish, social issues, and the frailty of man and machines,” said the anthropomorphist – a person who attaches human characteristics to things, animals, and cars like Parker, described by Emberly as a, “‘good old boy’ whose down-home wisdom, subtle, often-biting, humor, and empathy for ordinary folks made a lot of fans in Ridge Meadows until his final day on the road.”

“The idea was to comment on serious issues whenever possible, with a sense of humor,” he explained.

Calamity Jane carries on Parker’s torch.

“A straight shooter if you ever met one,” described Emberly.

The narrator of Cars I’ve Known and Loved Before is a 10-year-old boy who, like his father, thinks of the vehicle as a close member of the family, explained the author, noting that Jane has survived long past her best before date and almost every part under her hood has been replaced with parts found at auto graveyards called auto wreckers.

Even so, the boy’s father wants one last road trip with the family in the “good old girl” – confident the car will survive the final voyage. But, almost immediately the car has mechanical problems, said Emberly, and the family starts doubting the wisdom of the trip.

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“Will Jane get everyone home safely this time? Only time will tell,” he said.

Emberly was a regular columnist with The News from 2011 to 2019 and now writes stories about environmental and social issues, including the need for a fish ladder at Alouette Lake and saving the old growth forest at Fairy Creek. He has also collaborated with former Alouette River Management Society president Geoff Clayton on a podcast called The 100 Years War on Alouette Salmon – a historical review on local attempts to help restore wild salmon in the Alouette watershed.

Goodbye Chums – a short story written by Emberly and long-listed in the 2022 CBC short story competition – will be the title story for Emberly’s next project, a collection of tales about the often endearing, sometimes tumultuous misadventures of kids and teachers in the public school system.

Emberly will be hosting a book launch for Cars I’ve Known and Loved Before from 6-7:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 23, in the Fraser Room at the Maple Ridge Public Library, 22470 Dewdney Trunk Road.

Cars I’ve Known and Loved Before is available for purchase at Amazon.

Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

I got my start with Black Press Media in 2003 as a photojournalist.
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