This Ramshackle Tabernacle


Finalist for the 2010 BMO Winterset Award.


ORDER This Ramshackle Tabernacle on  or from today!

This Ramshackle Tabernacle is a collection of short stories set in and around the fictional villages of St. Lola and St. Olga in northeastern Ontario. Whether reflecting on the broken lives of others in the community or mourning the death of a friend who drowned in a freak fishing accident, the characters in this collection face tragedy with grace, humour and perseverance.

These stories deal with both the rundown and ruined aspects of our humanity but also with the redeeming and renewing love that can hold a community together when tragedies threaten to make it crumble.

From the Critics:

“Sam Martin is an exceptional writer. In all ways this is a highly original work.”

– David Adams Richards, award-winning author of Mercy Among the ChildrenRiver of the Broken-Hearted, and The Lost Highway.

“In This Ramshackle Tabernacle, the reverent and the irreverent not only share space—they rhyme. Sam Martin puts God in a full-nelson, brings the miraculous down to earth, and makes you feel the sacred in the shadow of a telephone pole. You will laugh and be lacerated. You will need stitches. A profound, funny, and exquisitely crafted book.”

– Jessica Grant, award-winning author of Come, Thou Tortoise and Making Light of Tragedy

“These linked stories set in a remote community in northeastern Ontario are as crisp and bracing as a chilly morning gulp of air. Achingly sympathetic and honest, they depict the lives of characters struggling to come to terms with their flaws and to achieve a saving grace.”

– Hugh Cook, author of Cracked Wheat and Other StoriesThe Homecoming Man, and Home in Alfalfa.

“These stories look you straight in the eye until you feel naked. They see every scar. They know and understand that life is dangerous, and yet tell you to jump off the cliff, whether or not you can swim. To get your head under, because that’s the point.”

– John Terpstra, award-winning author of Two or Three GuitarsThe Boys, and Disarmament

This Ramshackle Tabernacle is “beyond beautifully written…”

– Chapters Spectrum

“[As] broken and rough as Martin’s characters are in these interwoven stories, they are indeed people of faith. But Martin leaves it to the reader to decide whether their faith is fortunate or folly.”

– Mike Landry, Telegraph-Journal

“Martin is a truly unique and powerful voice… and this is a truly unique collection… . A compelling one. It is emotionally engaging and impressively written. [This] book will rattle you.”

Salty Ink

“[Many of the characters in This Ramshackle Tabernacle] struggle and search for something better, for grace and redemption, in whatever form they might take. This struggle, this not giving up, makes you hold out hope — sometimes to the bitter end — that the characters will find what they are looking for.”

– Sharon Hunt, The Chronicle Herald

“These characters [in This Ramshackle Tabernacle] know both ugliness and beauty, abuse and wholeness, and Martin’s writing pays rightful attention to the darkness of these characters’ lives, without which the glory they seek would go unnamed. […] In This Ramshackle Tabernacle, Martin’s characters chase glory, and whether by absence or bloody incarnation, it comes to them, and to us.”

– Allison Backous, Comment

Showcasing an impressive range of voices – from a mentally-ill teenager to bickering elderly couples – these stories are linked by shared characters and setting. It’s a book with teeth as sharp as its heart is tender. […] A deep empathy and sincere compassion punches through and unites all his stories. They are stories about outcasts and characters on edge, and the forces that can push them over or haul them back to safety. This Ramshackle Tabernacle is weighty; it lingers and swims in a rare and profound humanity

– Arts East

“The organic wholeness of these stories is shaped by [Martin’s] deft crafting of relationships and imagery. […] Such dovetailed details lend a patient hand-rubbed lustre to the book.”

– Cathy Smith, Christian Courier

“I loved this book, for so many reasons, but mainly because while I was reading it I was deeply moved, so much so that sometimes I had to put it down after a story, only for a minute or two, to digest what I’d just read and quietly admire (er, and resent!) Martin’s skills.”

Bella’s Bookshelves Blog

“What elevates Martin’s story ‘Eight-ball’ is its canny structure, shuttling back and forth between the present – which finds Harold being ejected from a bar where he has got stinking drunk and heading in the direction of the University of Toronto to locate a music professor who, in Harold’s mind, denied the violin virtuoso his big break – and the past – which traces the downward trajectory of Harold’s unfortunate experience on the streets of Toronto.”

-Steven W. Beattie, That Shakespearean Rag


Article in the St. John’s Telegram.

Chapters Spectrum Staff Review by Tasha Lynn Kraan.

Review in the Telegraph Journal.

CBC interview on WAM with Angela Antle.

August 2010 Book of the Month on Salty Ink.

Review by Sharon Hunt in Halifax’s The Chronicle Herald.

An excellent review by Allison Backous in the online journal Comment!

A very nice review by Cathy Smith in the Christian Courier!

A lovely, personal response to TRT over at Bella’s Bookshelves!

Steven W. Beattie reviews “Eight-ball” from This Ramshackle Tabernacle over at That Shakespearean Rag.

TRT Video Trailer:


  1. Nathan says:

    Sam! Congrats on the publishing; I actually got a heads up from Prof. Cook about your book last week. Incredible.
    Can’t wait to purchase and devour it.

  2. Piet Harsevoort says:

    Hey Sam,

    Kudos on the upcoming publication. I was very impressed with the early draft you e-mailed me some time ago. Your writing is powerful stuff.

    This blog looks great. I look forward to reading more!

  3. Valerie Legge says:

    Sam, what a great title for your first collection of short stories!

  4. Keagan Schopfer says:

    Hello Sam,

    Dr. Legge sent me the link to your blog. Congratulations on the collection of stories. I can’t wait to order a copy. And a great looking blog. I was thinking McCarthy might be my next read, and now I’m sure!


  5. Marvin McMurray says:

    Sam, I hope that all goes well with this first publishing. And I hope its the first of many!

  6. Andrew says:

    Hey bro,
    I’m glad to see that your hard work has finally paid off. You’ve sowed your seed, definitely followed your dreams, and now get to bear the fruit of your labour. Congradulations!

  7. Antje says:

    Congratulations, Sam! I actually already ordered the book six weeks ago when Dorothy told me about it. Can’t wait to read it!

  8. Sandy Jackson says:

    Sam, Congratulations! Didn’t know anything about your book until I saw it on FB. I’m proud of you, and your efforts! I hope to see more of your work… maybe even St. Lola or…

  9. Hi Sam! Glad to see that you’ve published and are thriving in the world of literature:) I can’t wait to read The Ramshackle Tabernacle and be inspired by your art. Thank you for this gift.

  10. Brian VanDooren says:

    Sam, I just finished reading your book. It is really, truly excellent. Not only is it emotionally moving, but the quality of writing is among the best that I’ve ever read. Congratulations!

  11. […] HomeBioContactDark Art CafeE-LinksThis Ramshackle Tabernacle […]

  12. […] fab three founders of YOSS 2011); The Odious Child by Carolyn Black; Bird Eat Bird by Katrina Best; This Ramshackle Tabernacle, by Sam Martin; Up Up Up by Julie Booker; Making Light of Tragedy, by Jessica Grant; The Collected […]

  13. […] reading short story collections that take me by surprise with their intensity and impact. In fact, This Ramshackle Tabernacle, by Samuel Thomas Martin, affected me so deeply that this is my fourth attempt at blogging a […]

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