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Guy Boucher, a fatherless teenager oppressed by the boredom and poverty of rural Nova Scotia, is dominated by his monstrous uncle, Isadore - alcoholic, capriciously violent and preternaturally vital. Isadore, who is permitted to board with Guy and his mother in exchange for the use of his red pick-up truck, is determined to make a man of Guy by forcing him to drink and play hockey. Guy dreams that access to the truck will be enough to attract a girlfriend from nearby Big Harbour. But when an awkward courtship turns sour, Guy touches off a sluggish tumult of violence fuelled by malice, booze and suffocating ennui.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099442059
ISBN-10: 0099442051
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 130mm x 26mm)
Pages: 432
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 3-Jul-2003
Country of Publication: United Kingdom


UK Kirkus Review » Starting with teenager Guy Boucher and his chaotic home life, Lynn Coady broadens her view to encompass a whole Nova Scotia community linked as much by tradition and memory as by the extraordinary violence which can suddenly erupt in their midst. In turn the characters relate their version of events and try to fathom their emotions. Guy resembles many young boys in his urgent wish to be taller and stronger, his lustful thoughts, boredom and impatience with certain teachers, but, when he tries to take a pretty girl out in his uncle Isadore's truck, everything goes wrong because Isadore is a vain, manipulative drunk who battens on his sister and wrecks everything he touches. Coady writes about teenagers with uncanny understanding: their friendships, language, self-loathing and, above all, their fantasies. In Guy she has created an appealing and innocent young man. The passages showing him at school, on the ice rink or learning to box are realistic and funny but she reserves her greatest skill for the touching domestic scenes where Guy tries to defend his home, his mother and his sister from Isadore's bullying. Coady has a rare talent for describing family life and never flinches from scenes which might seem outrageous. Each family in this small town seems strange and yet normal in a different way. She seizes on their quirks, their catchwords, their habits and the unnerving plight of their teenagers, struggling to find their way to adulthood. Isadore too is a triumph, a monster, a local character crashing his way from bar to home to a place where he can dry out once more. When a storm of wrong-headed innuendo and gossip threatens Guy the reader has developed such sympathy for him that the story threatens to become unbearably sad. Lynn Coady has already won several awards for her work; with this novel she keeps up her high standard. (Kirkus UK)

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Author Biography - Lynn Coady

Lynn Coady was nominated for the 1998 Governor General's Award for her first novel, Strange Heaven. A collection of short fiction, Play the Monster Blind, won the Canadian Authors Association's Jubliee Award. She received the Canadian Authors Association/Air Canada Award for the best writer under thirty and the Dartmouth Book and Writing Award for fiction. She lives in Vancouver.

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Saints of Big Harbour by Lynn Coady

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