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Whistler Reads: THE TIGER by John Vaillant

abstract:Thank you to everyone who participated in the 31st Whistler Reads event December 11th at 7:30 PM at the Westin Resort & Spa Hotel in Whistler when our guest was Governor General award winning author John Vaillant. John's fabulous presentation was well received by a fully packed audience. For those of you who missed it, we discussed his new book The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival (Knopf, Canada 2010) is, in the author's own words, "The Golden Spruce with stripes". [video presentation to follow upon editing - stop in here again later. For those of you who attended and wish to continue to support us - please use the Donate button at the top.]

John, of course is an intrepid traveller. He's been to 5 continents and oceans in the course of his work. This book took John to the remote southeast of Russia to a region called Primorye (Pri-mor-ya), a territory about the size of Washington state by the Sea of Japan where ecosystems converge and plants and animals exist that live no place else on earth. It is also the last refuge for an endangered sub-species of Siberian tigers - the Amur tiger - a spectacular killing machine. Weighing up to 600 pounds and 10 feet long from nose to tail it has evolved into a supreme predator. In "Tiger" Vaillant tells of an injured man-eating tiger who is not just striking for food, it's stalking its prey out of vengeance. The team of conservationists is tracking her on foot deep into the Siberian forest on a heart-thumping chase to capture or kill her before she kills again. But who is stalking who? Beautifully written and deeply informative we learn about this unique eco-system and the people who subsist in a grueling lifestyle. Whistler Reads invited you to make this a weekend adventure. The Westin offered Whistler Reads members huge room discounts on Junior suites and threw in 2 dual mountain ski passes per day. With the large volume of snow that has fallen in December, it truly was an amazing weekend for all. In the interests of not spamming you with info, frequent posts to our FB page are a valuable resource of extra links, updates and member feedback.


October 07, 2010


"Good evening and welcome to the 31st meeting of Whistler Reads our villagewide book group. We are a public book group that meets every 8 weeks to discuss a new book alternating fiction with nonfiction. There are over 600 members now who stay in touch near and far, along the Sea to Sky Corridor, Vancouver and Seattle. You can find us online at click on the Whistler Reads feature for the latest information.

I am delighted you could be here this evening – I know YOU KNOW we are all in for a big treat. As a personal disclaimer, I have to say that before Wednesday of this week I did not own a single piece of animal print clothing, but thanks to a suggestion from a Whistler Reads member who shall not be here named – LE CHATEAU in Whistler had a run-on their animal print fashion items and I am now a Goddess in that store! The kick to this evening’s frivolous fashion statement is that if you’re wearing animal print you have to make an online donation to John Vaillant’s Amur Tiger www.pheonix.

Before I introduce our special guest, the ineffable John Vaillant author of The Golden Spruce and his latest book under discussion tonight, THE TIGER: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival published by Knopf in Canada, I’d like to say a few thank-yous:

To Paul Adams and the Westin Hotel for hosting us and for sheltering John and his family.
To Andree Janyk – Whistler Person of the Year who toured John and his wife Nora and their two children on the mountain today.
To Anastasia Nadeau, who is herself a passionate reader, advocate for Whistler Reads.
To Dee Raffo whose tireless energy and talent are spread all over this town in addition to we here at Whistler Reads.
To Dan Ellis, the owner of Arm Chair Bookstore, who stocks our book picks and keeps them aside for you.
To Wayne Doucette of AVW-Telav, who provides professional digital equipment and service.
And last to the Pique Newsmagazine who always puts us in their Arts column.

John Vaillant is a freelance magazine writer and author whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, National Geographic, Outside, and Men’s Journal, among others. His first book, The Golden Spruce (Norton, 2005), was a bestseller and won several awards, including the Governor General’s Award for Non-Fiction (Canada).

His most recent book is The Tiger (Knopf, 2010) recently made the top ten lists for The Washington Post, Library Journal,, Chapters/Indigo, the Globe 100, and is shortlisted for the BC Achievement prize. His work in this and other fields has taken him to five continents and five oceans.

John Vallant’s writing is masculine, precise and startling. He has the scrutiny of a scientist, the integrity of an investigative journalist and the word craft of a pleine air painter; he mixes words like pigments using the subtleties of reflected light to show us the colour of - courage – fear – sacrifice – betrayal - obsession.

His subjects are personified examples of extravagant nature: a golden spruce, an Amur tiger, both endangered species from remote ecosystems cast into rare orbits on collision courses with man.

His characters are troubled, often outcasts or loners, casualties of failed political systems and changed economies. His heroes are determined, obsessive—and that word again, courageous.

John writes character perspectives so truthfully that I’ve been in a room where a retired logger came up to him to congratulate him for so accurately representing his maligned profession, and the next person behind that was a passionate environmentalist extolling his thanks for championing HIS cause.

But John doesn’t just write about causes – they channel through him. Each of his books have taken him down the path of cause: be that saving the forests, becoming a champion for indigenous peoples, or launching into the fray as a passionate voice for the world conservation effort of the Amur Tiger and its habitat. A portion of his book sales are going to the organizations listed on his website I think you’ll agree he is more than a writer.

Please give a warm welcome to... John VAILLANT!"
—Paula Shackleton, Founder and Director, Whistler Reads.

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