This beguiling biography, This Great Escape — shortlisted for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction — follows Ottawa writer Andrew Steinmetz deep into the “Hansel and Gretel woods,” searching for answers about a German cousin, Michael Paryla, whom he never met. Steinmetz has trodden these woods before, winning the 2009 Ottawa Book Award for Eva’s Threepenny Theatre, his novelistic memoir about Michael’s mother — who was also Steinmetz’s great aunt.
Growing up, Steinmetz knew only that his cousin acted in the 1963 hit movie, The Great Escape, and that he died of an overdose. Michael is a mystery demanding to be solved, obsession be damned.
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