On the cusp of sixty, after a lifetime of supporting the aspirations of others, would-be artist Tina Gabler is feeling a sense of urgency to take her own ambitions seriously and put her creative talents to the test. Temporarily unattached, Tina takes a position with former prime-time news anchor, Peter Bright at his home in the Thousand Islands. Aging and frail, Peter is trying to finish a book about the decline of objectivity in photojournalism—a meticulously documented exposé of iconic but staged photographs that defined “reality” for an increasingly lazy and credulous public that, Peter believes, demands stories more than facts.
As Peter’s research assistant, Tina tracks down not just the provenance of his photos, but also the unidentified child in a Roman Vishniac photograph and Peter’s estranged daughter, a Cree girl he adopted during the notorious “Sixties Scoop” in Canada. But in trying to create happy endings for other people’s children, she must reexamine her relationship with her own father, and the quest for collective versus personal achievement that has brought her to this unsettled moment.
Funny, searching, and gorgeously written, Burning and Dodging entertains as it reveals how the stories we construct about others support the stories we tell about ourselves.