East Van: by Chris Walter, 268 pgs. By Ty

Vancouver is a nice city. Its air and water are (somewhat) clean and the general feeling of it is that of well being. It also has one of the most degraded, drug- and poverty-torn ghettos in North America. This is Chris Walter’s world. East Van is the tale of two men at opposite ends of the world: a heroin-addicted punk rocker living in a skid hotel on Vancouver’s DTES (Down Town East Side) and a corporate VP hell-bent on getting to the top no matter who he steps on. Lives change fast in the DTES and Walter has a way of describing the carnage in way that only a firsthand witness (and participant) could. He not only addresses the personal problems of his characters, but larger social issues, such as gentrification and the police brutality. Perhaps the most intriguing part of the book is its ability to not only look at the bigger issues, but deliver characters that we can either love or loathe. It really is an emotional read. I guess it’s no surprise that Chris Walter is quickly becoming Canada’s most prolific underground author. –Ty Stranglehold (Chris Walter, #34-2320 Woodland Dr., Vancouver, BC V5N 3P2, www.punkbooks.com)