The Road to Vermilion Lake

The Road to Vermilion Lake

by Vic Cavalli

“A weird beauty”

Edinburgh Review


“If, as Charles Taylor argued in A Secular Age, we have lived in a disenchanted world since the Reformation and the Enlightenment, Vic Cavalli invites us to consider that such a way of life is not necessary. We may unwittingly focus on the materiality and transience of the secular world alone, but it may be an unconscious choice that renders invisible a far richer, multifaceted form of existence; re-enchantment may be within reach, through art, literature, and spirituality. Ordinary lives can become extraordinary.


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The Road to Vermilion Lake by Vic Cavalli

The Road to Vermilion Lake

by Vic Cavalli

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“The novel tells the story of one such ordinary life, that of Thomas Neal Tems, a blaster’s assistant and first-aid attendant who lives and works on a construction site beside a glorious, remote lake. The site is being developed by a Swiss company into an ecologically friendly village, and Thomas begins a romance with the talented and imaginative architect who designed the site, a devout Catholic. The world that the characters must navigate, however, is decidedly not a romantic one. It is marked by painful past experiences, dysfunctional families, tragic accidents, alcoholism, and drug overdoses, all of which seem to derive from an inability to reach beyond the superficiality of existence. And yet, this is a world of second chances, for those who desire to change their imaginative perspective, to seek a sense of depth and enchantment that is deeply embedded in the tangible world, particularly in the body and in the natural world, as well as in the creative world of contemplative thought.”

Midwest Book Review, Sharon Alker, Professor of English, scholar of eighteenth-century and Romantic Literature

“Vic Cavalli takes us on a wild ride along The Road to Vermilion Lake. Set against a grand landscape, the novel explores the intersection of emotion and geography, reality and metaphysics. Can love rock your world at a seismic level? Cavalli expels all doubts.”

—Loranne Brown, author of The Handless Maiden



The Road to Vermilion Lake

by Vic Cavalli

Release date: July 10, 2017
Genre: Fiction
Price: $22.95
ISBN: 978-1-941861-40-0


“At once steamily erotic and transcendently religious; both bursting with appetite and laced with self-denial.”

Pacific Rim Review of Books

“That documentary and myth are in active tension defines the form and appeal of the novel. I especially liked the documentary dimension, the extended and precise detail–on native flora, engineering, geology, first aid protocols, pop music, sacred music, ballistics, and much more. All this against a story line of transcendent mystery.”

—Laurie Ricou, Professor Emeritus of Canadian Literature, University of British Columbia

“The greatest strength of this work lies in the author’s sure handling of the symbolic landscape. The novel works on at least two levels: a relatively conventional external plot involving the inevitable struggles of two lovers from drastically different backgrounds, and a highly suggestive internal movement, governed by a set of symbols linking the subjective and objective worlds. At times, this approaches an unsettling magic realism, in which Vermilion Lake and environs mirror the interior struggles and joys of the protagonists—for example, in the synchronicity between potentially destructive seismic activity and the development of the romance—creating a slightly eerie (but always intriguing) sense that the world in which these characters live and move and have their being decidedly transcends mere geologic data. This mirroring, combined with the suggestive binary patterning of characters and events, helps produce an elusive atmosphere that effectively reinforces the work’s spiritual convictions as these work themselves out in the plot.”

—Dr. Stephen Dunning, specialist in both Canadian and contemporary British literature.



About the Author

Vic Cavalli grew up in Vancouver B.C. surrounded by narratives of immigration and the Canadian wilderness, the arts and the trades. His Swiss mother (who spent her youth in Smithers, B.C. before eventually moving to Vancouver) taught sewing for most of her life and was a gifted professional tailor of both women’s and men’s garments. His Italian father (who spent his youth gold mining in the Yukon before moving to Vancouver) was an excellent musician, carpenter, and master welder who literally signed his finished projects with his welding rod as if they were paintings. Vic’s childhood home was filled with music, art, large house parties (optimally with two or three accordions, a mandolin and a guitar), Italian songs, wine, and spaghetti dinner feasts. Within this context, he and his father lived for the weekends and summer holidays when they would camp and fish in some of the most beautiful settings imaginable: the rivers and lakes of the Interior of British Columbia, and the Pacific ocean shoreline from Horseshoe Bay to Squamish, and off the eastern shore of Vancouver Island.
Also, Vic was mentored as a boy in state of the art photography by his uncle Lucius, who had hiked the Alps as a young man and had photographs of newly discovered species of wildflowers published in scientific journals in his early teen years. He’ll never forget the 35mm camera Lucius gave him and his patient instruction.

During the 1960s, in secondary school, Vic focused on the visual arts and music (fronting a couple of rock bands), plus studied ceramics on Saturdays at The Vancouver Art School. After high school he worked for seven years at various manual labor jobs: operating machines and driving forklifts in factories, building steel fishing boats, and logging—setting chokers and falling trees. Eventually, taking the advice of an educated friend, Vic signed up for first-year College. He vividly recalls that friend’s then puzzling admonition: “Read some Russian novels.” He had inspiring professors, and he immersed himself in his formal education and completed a B.A. and soon after an M.A.

Vic has been teaching English at the university level since 1987, and Creative Writing at the university level since 2001. As a writer and visual artist he has always been interested in exploring the themes of generation and regeneration; this is clear in his poetry and short fiction publications throughout the years, but in his novel The Road to Vermilion Lake, with sincere gratitude he believes he’s been given the opportunity to collect and focus into a single unified surge everything he has learned.
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