Guy's distinctive narrative voice, at once callow and knowing, is reminiscent of a sort of rural Acadian Holden Caulfield: "It's a stupid, embarrassing life," he confesses. Elsewhere he says, "Girls are insane and for the most part I can't stand the thought of them," which immediately tells us they're all he ever thinks about.
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He is particularly obsessed with a pretty, popular yet cruel young woman named Corinne Fortune. This attachment will form a major chunk of the plot, as a relationship which barely exists is whipped up by malicious gossip and Corinne's manipulation into a full-blown rape charge.
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Coady could have stayed with Guy's first-person voice, brimming with gangly charm, right to the end. Salinger made it work memorably, after all. But she makes a decision early on to widen the focus, switching to third-person in order to get into the lives of all those other people in Guy's small, but somehow very complicated, world. She never misses a beat here, especially in describing adolescent angst.
SAINTS OF BIG HARBOUR
A chapter called "The Corinne Fortune Story" is really all about Corinne's shy, chubby, terminally-marginalized best friend Pam Cormorant, and it opens, "One fat morning a fat fat got out of fat and looked out the fat. The fat was in the sky and all around the world was fat. Her fat mother called for her to come downstairs and have fat because she didn't want to be late for fat. Fat she went down the stairs, fat fat fat.
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The age-old question of who gets to be popular, and why, is a Coady obsession. It's a ruthless setup that we've all been caught up in, and it is to the author's huge credit that she reveals Corinne's own quaking insecurity as the story deepens. Even the popular kids are wounded and imperfect, with so much at stake that a stay in the psych ward must be disguised as a "visit to my aunt in Halifax.
The unpopular kids can at least relax into their own hopelessness, as in Coady's achingly funny description of a school talent show that only losers would enter: "Pallid nerdlings emerged from basements and attics all across town, oboes in hand.
The club for those who don't exist. There is so much more to this novel than the bare bones I have laid out here, in particular a disturbingly deep knowledge of alcoholism and its underlying despair. Isadore's favorite drinking buddy is Guy's teacher, Alison Mason, marginalized for being young, American and having a girl's name. Being a falling-down drunk is the least of it, as if this dry rot of the soul were somehow standard equipment. A certainty that the very worst had happened, and at some point within the next two-four hours it would spring itself on him in all its luxuriant horror, just before screaming How could you not remember!
How can Coady know this much about alcoholism, a deeply-entrenched generational pattern of demolition that baffles even the experts? Wherefore her scary knowledge of Corinne's abyss of depression? The cold spot remarks, If you were a well and someone dropped a penny into you, they could listen forever and never hear a sound. Lucky for you, nobody is listening very carefully.
This is a writer with intimate knowledge of the most destructive patterns in human experience. It's all here, the booze, the chronic unemployment in which men become psychologically unglued, the writhing tentacles of Catholic guilt, the fleeting hope of escape through education in the big city. This all too often leads to the boomerang phenomenon of people fleeing back to the stagnant safety of home.
I do not believe it is a coincidence that Coady now lives in Vancouver, which is geographically the farthest point she could travel away from home and not fall into the ocean. Yet Cape Breton, like Margaret Laurence's Manawaka, has taken up residence in her skull, where it will likely live forever. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published November 12th by Mariner Books first published January 1st More Details Other Editions 7. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Saints of Big Harbour , please sign up.
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Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Part of my backlog for the Canada-Alaska reading goal, I always meant to read Lynn Coady because she wins so many Canadian literature awards but seems fairly unknown in the states. This novel feels like a combination of quality small working class town capture John Irving, Richard Russo and character study Gabe Habash came to mind.
A town called malice
Set in imaginary Big Harbour, Nova Scotia, the chapters rotate between characters, and the reader gets to know a handful very well. Part of my interest here Part of my backlog for the Canada-Alaska reading goal, I always meant to read Lynn Coady because she wins so many Canadian literature awards but seems fairly unknown in the states. Part of my interest here is that there is a distinction between a "French" character and the rest of the kids in a school, and he turns out to be Acadian. Themes of masculinity, coming-of-age, alcoholism, and small-towns losing their livelihoods.
Dec 26, Robin Riopelle rated it really liked it. I'm a big fan of Lynn Coady. I read this in what was possibly the least-apropos spot: a beach in Mexico. The book's setting is claustrophobic, and anyone growing up in a smaller town or semi-rural in Canada in the early 80s will recognize the fear: of leaving the suffocating blanket of 'home', and the terrifying prospect of actually staying.
Despite laughing out loud several times, I found the book relentlessly depressing, the lo I'm a big fan of Lynn Coady. Despite laughing out loud several times, I found the book relentlessly depressing, the love-child of David Adams Richards and Mary Walsh.
http://bbmpay.veritrans.co.id/donde-conocer-chicas-de-sumacrcer.php The jacket blurb claims that the story is about Guy Boucher, and it is, but it's more about the weave of characters around Guy, each chapter taking on POVs both first and third person, just a lovely thing to read. The teen stuff hits true more often than not, and I found myself understanding if not necessarily liking each character, even when they were behaving unspeakably badly. I really loved this book -- Coady writes so incredibly well, and there are surprises tucked in there, things not said, punches not thrown, enough optimism to cut through the relentless fog of functional alcoholism and listless, feckless youth.
Aug 13, Ronald Kelland rated it liked it. I'm a little conflicted on this book. For starters, the synopsis on the back cover really misses the mark on the book and only summarizes about the first pages. There is much more going on than that summary suggests. For me, this is a book about three groups of people, Guy Aucoin's family, dominated by a horrific, violent, alcoholic uncle, the larger community, who's citizens are mired in the hopelessness of unemployment and chronic, community-wide alcoholism and random, petty, violence, and I'm a little conflicted on this book.
For me, this is a book about three groups of people, Guy Aucoin's family, dominated by a horrific, violent, alcoholic uncle, the larger community, who's citizens are mired in the hopelessness of unemployment and chronic, community-wide alcoholism and random, petty, violence, and Guy's school, a group of teenagers with regular teenage problems exacerbated by the uselessness, helplessness and emasculation of their teachers, mothers and fathers.
All is brought to a head by careless words told by Guy to to his uncle to avoid ridicule and abuse. These little lies throw Guy's life into a spiral he has no control over. The book is like watching a slow motion train wreck, you can see it coming chapters ahead, but are forced to watch it draw inexorably closer. Saints of Big Harbour is an interesting book and I did enjoy it. However, it seemed to come off the rails at one point, with more attention given to other characters at the expense of the primary Aucoin family.
I feel that the poll could have been tighter, but I did plot through it in less than three days, and that says something. Really a 3. Guy introduces his family: his impoverished mother, Marianne; his uncontrollable, alcoholic, and incredibly charismatic uncle, Isadore; and his meek, almost unnoticeable sister, Louise.
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