July 17, 2012

Generational Seacoast Life

Michael Crummey
Folklore Fiction
To Buy Amazon

I’m not sure what drew me to this book. It doesn’t have an intricate or telling cover, and the title doesn’t give much insight to what it names. For some reason, I saw it on display halfway across the library, and checked it out without a single thought. This book and I were meant to be (don’t you guys sometimes feel that way?).

Galore is a wide-spanning all-encompassing book, and it's hard to summarize in just a few sentences, so I've gone the other route, hardly explaining at all! When people asked me what my book was about when they caught me reading it, I’d generally say “a small coastal town in Canada," which is true, but doesn't do it much justice.

First and most of all, I’d like to talk about the writing. There are books that may span a summer, or a winter – a simple season of character development and transformation. Some entire books use 500 pages to describe a series of events that happened in only a few days, or even moments. Galore is a 300 page book that spans six generations in two parts. Michael Crummey grew up in the Newfoundland/Labrador area of Canada (the Atlantic coast), which is the setting for this book. He obviously knows the area, the lifestyle, and the folklore of his home, and it shines through in the story. Stylistically, he used sparse and stark language, and in places one sentence can progress the story through an entire season. There were details, but not every detail. Everything was tastefully done.

To me, writing a story of this magnitude would be just overwhelmingly complex. How do you describe everyone in a community, their relationships with everyone else in the communiy, the progression of the town through time, keep the reader interested, and still lead up to a conclusion that includes none of the characters you just spent the first half of the book detailing?? Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m afraid you will have to find this book yourself to answer that question, because I promise you it works out to a beautiful conclusion that adheres the two halves of the story together.

I love the way things are revealed about the characters, but still there is always a mystery behind each person. That quality almost makes you feel, as a reader, that you are a member of this community - where certain things are made public, and some things stay behind doors closed tight. I also loved that it’s the story as much about the people as the town growing within it. From the earliest beginnings in the story, we hear of the first settlers of Paradise Deep, King-Me Sellers and Devine’s Widow, how their families expand, and how the communities transform from a few shanties on the coast to having a school house, a church, a hospital, etc. 

I realize this doesn't tell you much about the story, I know, and I apologize. The thing is, the book is mostly details and relationship ties that are hard to explain without fear of accidentally starting my own novel right here in this post! Basically the catalyst of this story is this - a whale is found beached after a hard season of fishing, so everyone is convinced this beached whale is a miracle that has saved their lives through the winter. As they are tearing through the animal (after letting it die of it's own accord), a man crawls out, stark naked, unable to speak, reeking of fish, and white as a ghost. 

In short, I greatly enjoyed reading this book. I have a book that may be a little similar on my shelf, We, The Drowned, also a multi-generational sea adventure book (any of you read it??), and I'm very excited, and somehow nervous, to read it. I hope a few of you will go out and find Galore,  or I hope, at least, that the next time each of you goes to a library or a book store, a book reaches out and grabs you as Galore did to me. It's worth listening to those instincts (usually)!

Happy Reading Everyone!

1 comment:

Tonya McKenna said...

Can't wait to read it! Thank you.