Monday, June 27, 2011

Read This Book: 'Galore'

Galore is a new novel by Canadian writer Michael Crummey. If you've ever wanted to own a home on the ocean, to sail in a big yacht, pick ripe peaches off a tree in the back yard by the pool and eat catered lobster extravaganzas every night, this is not the book for you.

If you want to learn about people and a rough and not altogether vanished way of life by the sea, grab this book . I've seldom encountered a writer so gifted at defining place. Not only do his characters feel like relatives-whether you like 'em or not-the locale is a close cousin.

Crummey's novel is set in Newfoundland over a 100 year period, from the early 19th century to World War I. I think. He dates himself with the WWI references but how far he goes back is a bit vague. No matter. The opening premise ha a man being cutout of the belly of a whale. He's alive. The whale no longer is. 'Judah' is albino like, reeks of fish and never speaks. He lives to be a very old man, marries, has a son and is most content in isolation. Over the next century or so we encounter generations of feuding families, horny priests, Calvinist minsters, and deprecate fishermen. Judah brings with him mountains of fish and economic prosperity. It doesn't last.

Galore is about the ebb and low (pardon the pun) of life. The language can be a little rich, a la Dickens or Trollope but in no way do any of the characters or situations become caricature. This is a long, slow, read. There's much to savor. I suspect its the type of book you want to read once a year, and repays the effort in different and wonderful ways, each time. The salt will sting your eyes, the stench might invade you but the land and the sea will captivate. Buy this book.

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