TBRChallenge Review: Something Different

my book this month is Galore by Michael Crumney. It’s an award-winning novel from 2009, set in a
fishing village in Newfoundland. It is “mythic,” meaning strong elements of the supernatural are included as a matter of course. Not really fantasy, though. I knew it was a good choice for this month’s theme of something I wouldn’t normally read because of the epigraph from Gabriel Garcia Marquez: “The invincible power that has moved the world is unrequited, not happy, love.” Yep, that’s pretty far from my comfort zone!

I only finished part one last night, but I thought I’d say a few words about that, since I’m traveling the rest of the week and don’t know when I’ll finish it. It’s an engrossing read, and bot as depressing as I’d expected.

The book starts with a whale being washed up in a small fishing village that has seen several years of poor catches. In the body of the whale is a man, improbably alive, and the reader gets to know the other
characters by their actions and reactions in this strange situation. Although treated like a pariah at first, he leads the fishermen to good catches and is soon seen as a lucky charm. The recent history of the village, people’s alliances, enmities and secrets, are infused with superstition, curses,
miracles and even a ghost. Character is very Aristotelian — the reader gets to know each character by the pattern of choices they make, rather than a lot of internal monologue or revealing point of view. How people treat each other really seems to be the measure of their worth. There are some very funny moments, wonderfully described. The writing is excellent. Part one is in the latter half of the nineteenth century, I think; it’s hard to tell, because the village lifestyle is both primitive and isolated, so the usual context of technology or historical events doesn’t help much. I gather that part two is set later, but I don’t know how much later — I’m not reading any reviews until I’ve encountered the books for myself.

So far, I recommend the writing and the storytelling. But I’m still dreading a less-than-satisfying ending, so no unreserved recommendation yet.

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