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Cheryl's books

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The Collected Stories
John McGahern
George Eliot
Omensetter's Luck
William H. Gass
Swann's Way
Marcel Proust, Lydia Davis
A Naked Singularity (Paper)
Sergio De La Pava
The Master and Margarita
Mikhail Bulgakov, Richard Pevear, Larissa Volokhonsky
Otherwise Known as the Human Condition: Selected Essays and Reviews
Geoff Dyer
Infinite Jest
David Foster Wallace
Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self
Claire Tomalin
Maps and Legends
Michael Chabon
Blackstrap Hawco - Kenneth J. Harvey At over 800 pages it was too long, but pretty good. I wavered at times in my commitment, and more than several pages were just skimmed. A more judicious pruning by the editor was in order. A gardener’s hand needed, to prune so as to encourage overall healthy growth. Otherwise a book grows lanky and uninteresting.
Yet another in the barrage of Newf-lit. The author refers to it as a “transcompositive narrative”. Ie, a blending of facts and fiction, but so thoroughly mixed it is like a suspension of particles in a slurry of fiction. or something like that. He used Newfoundland historical events as touchstones in the lives of the characters. He touched on lives of different generations over a couple of hundred years in the families of Blackstrap Hawco. Some were so intriguing, especially the Irish immigrants in the 1800s, but he teased us with their lives and then abandoned them, and so abandoned us. We were introduced, made friends, but there were no callbacks. i kept waiting to return to the woman who gave birth to the twins, and to more of the story of the woman whose bastard baby was spirited away and presumably killed, by the too-powerful local priest. But the last half to third of the book returned to a more traditional narrative form, and by now became a story really just about Blackstrap. The author was fatigued by his experiment. So reluctantly we the reader had to go along with it.
His impressionistic style of writing was surprisingly easy to read once you allow yourself to be carried along in it. The style though leaves one with the sense that these characters are more animal than human; they seem almost incapable of intelligent decision-making. They are fatalistic, and abandon their futures and their presents to the powers -- the church, the employers, the wealthy businessmen. When they rebel it is in the way an animal rebels in a trap: it chews off its leg. Well, sadly, this is likely an accurate representation of not just Newfoundlanders but people all over. Families buffeted by external events, seemingly incapable of controlling or influencing those events. And lacking even the initiative or desire to take charge. Because at least this way they have someone to blame, and its not themselves. Or so they think........