Friday, April 10, 2009

Blackstrap Hawco

Said to be about a Newfoundland family, by Kenneth J Harvey.

Quickie Recap: It takes 800+ pages to tell us who Blackstrap Hawco is, so I'm probably not going to summarize him very well here. He's a hero and a criminal, and has a family tree full of the same. Mostly, though, he's a Newfoundlander. He's proud of where he's from, and what that means. It's in his bones, and in his blood, and we see plenty of both.

Quickie Review: Does this book reward the careful reader? Yes. Does it also frustrate the careful reader? Yes. Does it at times alienate even the carefullest of readers? Yes, yes, yes. Between the pheonetically-spelled Newfoundlander dialect, the constant, frenetic shifting between narrators, characters, and time periods, and the portion at the end that is written by an illiterate, this book is not for those who are looking for a light read. Or an easy read. Or a non-headache-inducing read. It's tough. There are some very good parts, and some parts that I still can't say what the fuck they were about. There are entire characters who remain mysterious to me because I could never quite place them in between the time they appeared and disappeared again. This is definitely an ambitious and far-reaching novel, not exactly a song for Newfoundland, it's too gritty for that, but a tribute that a true Newfoundlander would probably have a terse nod of approval for. I can't say my heart was entirely in it, it was too convoluted and tried to be too many things for that, but I do have some fondness for it.

Quickie Recommendation: Tell me what you thought of it, if you've read it.


Lorna said...

as usual, reading your reviews is as good as reading a favourite, funny, caustic, informed, thoughtful book.

Anonymous said...