Friday, March 18, 2011
A Stunningly Beautiful Tale from a Desolate Land: Review of "Galore" by Michael Crummey
Michael Crummey has penned a novel that combines the best elements of "The Shipping News" and "Moby Dick." In the hands of a lesser writer, the tale told in "Galore" could have easily devolved into something cartoonish and bizarre. But Crummey has cobbled together a Dickensian cast of characters who inhabit two small desolate villages on the remote coast of Newfoundland - far from the "metropolis" of St. John. The action and mythology of the story covers several generations of the denizens of Paradise Deep and The Gut, with men and women and other worldly creatures struggling to scratch out a living from the sea. Throw in biblical elements of a man born from the belly of a beached whale, spectral figures that refuse to rest in peace following their death, tension among Anglicans, Catholics and Methodists, the burgeoning labor movement, World War I - and you have a rollicking tale. The description of the characters, place, smells, tastes, and blood feuds are so vivid that each time I picked up the book I felt myself instantly transported to this far off and alien world.
Even the laconic and taciturn Newfoundlanders speak volumes through their clipped speech, silences, deliberate actions, stubborn inactions, enigmatic looks, and miasmal smells. This is a very sensual story - assaulting all of the senses in a way that allows the reader complete immersion into the lives and ethos of the fictional communities.
This novel is destined to become a classic. I loved it.