Ducks: Book summary and reviews of Ducks by Kate Beaton

Ducks

Two Years in the Oil Sands

by Kate Beaton

Ducks by Kate Beaton X
Ducks by Kate Beaton
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  • Published Sep 2022
    448 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Book Summary

Before there was Kate Beaton, New York Times bestselling cartoonist of Hark! A Vagrant, there was Katie Beaton of the Cape Breton Beaton, specifically Mabou, a tight-knit seaside community where the lobster is as abundant as beaches, fiddles, and Gaelic folk songs.

With the singular goal of paying off her student loans, Katie heads out west to take advantage of Alberta's oil rush―part of the long tradition of East Coasters who seek gainful employment elsewhere when they can't find it in the homeland they love so much. Katie encounters the harsh reality of life in the oil sands, where trauma is an everyday occurrence yet is never discussed.

Beaton's natural cartooning prowess is on full display as she draws colossal machinery and mammoth vehicles set against a sublime Albertan backdrop of wildlife, northern lights, and boreal forest. Her first full length graphic narrative, Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands is an untold story of Canada: a country that prides itself on its egalitarian ethos and natural beauty while simultaneously exploiting both the riches of its land and the humanity of its people.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Beaton delivers a masterpiece graphic memoir: an immersive, devastating portrait of the two years she worked at Fort McMurray and nearby oil sands in northern Canada...Beaton makes a shattering statement on the costs of ignorance and neglect endemic in the fuel industry, in both powerful discussions of its sociopolitical ramifications and her own keenly observed personal story." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"[Beaton] creates an indelible portrait of environmental degradation, fraught interpersonal relationships among a workforce largely disconnected from home, and greedy corporations that seem only vaguely aware of the difficult work's effect on their employees. A fascinating, harrowing, unforgettable book about a place few outsiders can comprehend." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"This is graphic memoir at its finest." - Booklist (starred review)

"An unflinchingly honest coming-of-age memoir and unforgettable depiction of capitalism's dehumanizing effect on the individual." - Library Journal

"An exceptionally beautiful book about loneliness, labor, and survival. Beaton is a thoughtful guide through a complex landscape of class and gender, and these pages ache with grief and grace." - Carmen Maria Machado, author of In the Dream House

"A masterpiece, a heartbreak, a nightlight shining in the dark." - Patricia Lockwood, author of No One Is Talking About This

"Ducks is both a coming-of-age narrative and a skillful, subtle commentary on class, misogyny, and the human costs of environmental extraction. From the oil fields to the hallways of worker housing, Kate Beaton's comics are rich with quiet revelations, intimate details, and a deadpan, devastating sense of humor. A generous and illuminating book; I suspect it will stay on my mind for a very long time." - Anna Wiener, author of Uncanny Valley

"In Ducks, Kate Beaton doesn't tell us how capitalism extracts, exploits, commodifies, and alienates. Nor does she show us. She recreates life in an oil sands mining operation in granular detail and allows us to make the connections ourselves―as she had to when she showed up to work there at age twenty-one. The effect is devastating. Despite the brutal toll Beaton suffered personally, she has woven from her experience a vast and complex tapestry that captures the humanity of people doing a kind of 'dirty work' in which we are all complicit, and it shimmers with grace." - Alison Bechdel, author of Fun Home

This information about Ducks was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Kate Beaton

Kate Beaton grew up in Nova Scotia, Canada. She earned a bachelor's degree in history and anthropology at Mount Allison University. She presently resides in Brooklyn, New York.

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