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Biography & Autobiography Personal Memoirs

Jennie's Boy

A Newfoundland Childhood

by (author) Wayne Johnston

Publisher
Knopf Canada
Initial publish date
Sep 2022
Category
Personal Memoirs, Literary, Social Classes
  • Hardback

    ISBN
    9781039001664
    Publish Date
    Sep 2022
    List Price
    $34.95

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Description

Consummate storyteller and bestselling novelist Wayne Johnston reaches back into his past to bring us a sad, tender and at times extremely funny memoir of his Newfoundland boyhood.

For six months between 1966 and 1967, Wayne Johnston and his family lived in a wreck of a house across from his grandparents in Goulds, Newfoundland. At seven, Wayne was sickly and skinny, unable to keep food down, plagued with insomnia and a relentless cough that no doctor could diagnose, though they had already removed his tonsils, adenoids and appendix. To the neigh­bours, he was known as “Jennie’s boy,” a back­handed salute to his tiny, ferocious mother, who felt judged for Wayne’s condition at the same time as worried he might never grow up.
 
Unable to go to school, Wayne spent his days with his witty, religious, deeply eccentric mater­nal grandmother, Lucy. During these six months of Wayne’s childhood, he and Lucy faced two life-or-death crises, and only one of them lived to tell the tale.
 
Jennie’s Boy is Wayne’s tribute to a family and a community that were simultaneously fiercely protective of him and fed up with having to make allowances for him. His boyhood was full of pain, yes, but also tenderness and Newfoundland wit. By that wit, and through love—often expressed in the most unloving ways—Wayne survived.

About the author

Wayne Johnston is the author of several novels. He has won many prestigious awards for his work including the Books in Canada First Novel Award for his debut novel, The Story of Bobby O'Malley, the Canadian Authors Association Award for Most Promising Young Writer, and the Thomas Head Raddall Fiction Award for The Divine Ryans. Both The Colony of Unrequited Dreams and The Navigator of New York spent extended periods of time on bestseller lists in Canada and have also been published in the US, Britain, Germany, Holland, China and Spain. Colony was identified by the Globe and Mail newspaper as one of the 100 most important Canadian books ever produced (including both fiction and non-fiction).

Wayne Johnston's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“All I have ever done,” Wayne Johnston writes in Jennie's Boy, his account of growing up dirt-poor in Newfoundland, “is repeat what I was told.” Be grateful for that: the result is a story so vibrant and detailed you don't read it so much as you race along and relive it, blow by staggering blow. The man is incapable of writing a dull sentence. The Johnstons of Newfoundland are poorer than Steinbeck's Joads, funnier than the McCourts of Angela's Ashes, and every bit as worthy as material. Which makes sense: there was no place on earth quite like bottomed-out Newfoundland, and there is no better book about it than this one. A brilliant and unforgettable story told by one of the masters of Canadian literature.” —Ian Brown

“I have been a Wayne Johnston fan since my teens. His books are the ones that showed me that my own backyard was worth writing about. In Jennie’s Boy, a glorious tale of bedmobiles and jug baths drawn from his own life, he showed me what was behind closed doors just up the road from me. Like the best Newfoundland storytellers do, he made me laugh and then pause to think of how we can find love and joy in a most untraditional childhood.” —Alan Doyle
“Wayne Johnston’s childhood in Newfoundland was full of laughter, pain and poverty. And then laughter again. His memoir, Jennie’s Boy, is an uplifting account of a childhood not just survived—he came close to death too many times to count—but triumphed over. Thank god he lived to tell the tale.” —Rick Mercer

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