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The latest in Newfoundland fiction

By kileyturner
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We perk up around here whenever we see the word "Newfoundland" attached to a new book ... so much great Canadian fiction is set in this gorgeous province, and some of our finest writers live there.
Our Homesick Songs

Our Homesick Songs

edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover

LONGLISTED FOR THE SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE
From Emma Hooper, acclaimed author of Etta and Otto and Russell and James, a People magazine “Pick of the Week,” comes a “haunting fable about the transformative power of hope” (Booklist, starred review) in a charming and mystical story of a family on the edge of extinction.

Newfoundland, 1992. When all the fish vanish from the waters and the cod industry abruptly collapses, it's not long before the people begin to disappear from the town of Big …

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Excerpt

There was a mermaid, said Finn.

Yes, said Cora. She pulled an old towel up over her, a blanket. Out on the dark green night water, said Finn, there was a mermaid. And, because mermaids need to, it sang. Sad songs, homesick songs. Night after night, over a hundred thousand fish. And the only one who could hear it was a girl.

Lonely, said Cora.

Yes, a lonely girl, said Finn. Orphaned. But tying knots and listening to the mermaid sing made her feel a bit better. All through the night, she’d lie awake and knot and listen to the songs.

And then the storm, said Cora.

Yes, the storm, said Finn. There was a storm one night. And the girl couldn’t think of anything but her parents not being there, and the knots weren’t helping as much as they should, and the mermaid was singing and singing, not high and pretty, like you might think, but low and long, like she felt, so the girl got up, out of bed, and followed the song down to the water.

The sea.

Yes, to the sea. Where the storm was wild and it was probably too dangerous –

Definitely –

And it was definitely too dangerous, but she kept going anyway, the mermaid’s singing washing up to her, calling out to her. She walked all the way to the edge of the sea and then, even though it was freezing cold, she took another step into the water. She should have sunk down, but she didn’t. She stayed on the surface.

She what?

She stayed on the surface.

She did? I don’t remember this part . . .

She did. Because the sea was so thick with cod, brought out by the singing, hundreds of thousands of them, she could walk on them, right across their backs, out and out and out towards the song . . .

Oh . . .

And it got louder and louder until it was louder than the wind, until –

Until she saw it wasn’t a mermaid at all, said Cora. Yes, said Finn. Until she saw it wasn’t a mermaid. It was Dad. It was our dad. Singing.

Cora and Finn were on the ferry, going west. The sun had set and their parents were asleep, leaning against each other, surrounded by bags and boxes. There was no one else there. It was too foggy to see out the windows, to check for boat lights or anything else. Too quiet and late for music, too much pull of the sea for reading. There was nothing to do but tell stories. Tell this story.

And then? asked Cora.

And then everything, said Finn.

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The Luminous Sea

The Luminous Sea

edition:Paperback

A team of researchers from a nearby university have set up a research station in a fictional outport in Newfoundland, studying the strange emergence of phosphorescent tides. And Vivienne, a young assistant, accidentally captures a creature unknown to science: a kind of fish, both sentient and distinctly female. As the project supervisor and lead researcher attempt to exploit the discovery, the creature begins to waste away, and Vivian must endanger herself to save them both.

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Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club

Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club

edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
tagged : literary

February in Newfoundland is the longest month of the year.

Another blizzard is threatening to tear a strip off downtown St. John’s, while inside The Hazel restaurant a storm system of sex, betrayal, addiction, and hurt is breaking overhead. Iris, a young hostess from around the bay, is forced to pull a double despite resolving to avoid the charming chef and his wealthy restaurateur wife. Just tables over, Damian, a hungover and self-loathing server, is trying to navigate a potential punch-up w …

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Excerpt

Olive waits below the sad mural painted in memory of some long ago drowned boy.

She can see up and down Duckworth Street from her perch though there’s not much to see this early in the morning. A scattered taxi slogs by carrying fiendish-looking passengers who attempt to discreetly smoke from barely cracked windows. Discretion is a skill they have fallen out with but they don’t know that yet. They still fancy themselves stealth, piling four parka-plied humans into a single toilet stall, scarves dangling beneath the door, telling tails on them all.

Volume control is a thing of delusion in the confined spaces they inhabit. It will be years before this is fully realized by those who escape the scene or are thrown into adulthood by overdose or pregnancy. These lucky few will feel overwhelmingly, retroactively embarrassed by their one-time rock star fantasies. Olive can hear them bawling about their supposed betrayals as clouds of tobacco smoke and slurry syllables updraft skyward through the slightly parted window.

But Olive forgives them their make-believe follies.

They are no better or worse than most of the half well-off, half grown-up humans she has met. They are just flawed and vulnerable to the pitch. Olive is no different. She has chased the white dragon into smoky rooms where grad students complained about unkindly thesis feedback while wearing thousand dollar watches. A holiday-tanned winter wrist, a baggie held aloft, another Volvo fob serving key bumps round the ring. Under such circumstances, Olive is for the most part silent. She can pass for one of them until she releases language into the world.

Olive often holds her rural tongue for fear of being found out. She is not a card-carrying member of the townie majority. And rarely are there other fugitive faces for Olive to hide behind on nights when she wants to get on the go. There was a Mexican painter once. A Russian musician. There was the one Pakistani fellow whose name Olive could never recall. She did not think it was unpronounceable, she just could not pronounce it.

There are lots of words still beyond her reach.

Like Olive can think of no words to describe the pain felt where her pants nearly meet her feet. She winces and tucks her chin farther inside her coat. She tries to push her neck back to save from catching skin in the zipper. She sniffs back hard and swallows a slippery lob. Her grandmother would not approve of hoarding mucus in the body but her grandmother would not approve of much of what she does lately. Olive sighs and swells and swallows spit to slide the lob along.

Ollie my dollie, get a tissue.

Her grandmother’s voice is always a program running in the back of her mind. But Olive can’t sacrifice a tissue on mere mucus this morning. Her store of napkins is running low and the last time she tried to hock and spit the wind gust blew snot back onto her sleeve. The line of mucus running from her lips to her elbow turned her weak stomach over. A middle-aged woman in a bright blue Canada Goose coat muttered oh for the love of god as she hurried past the translucent boundary. This made Olive feel gross.

She swallows that gross feeling down again while she waits.

She can distract herself for a time from the damp soak settling in her heels by watching the craven-faced respectable people meander to their grown-up jobs after a weekend of pretending to be twenty-five. They are not twenty-five. They are not even thirty-five and feel as such. Most internally promise to stay home with the kids next weekend as they turn their faces to or from the sunshine depending on the quantity of painkillers ingested in the car. This temporary commitment to sobriety is bookended by revolving party systems.

Some relish vitamin D while others resent it.

The division will not last long, though, as the sun already has started to duck back inside the nimbostratus. It will storm again today as surely as the nearly forty will go out again in four days’ time. The babysitter will be called. The cat will be let in. They will flee their houses for a little look around.

Get the stink of house off ya.

They will reliably cloak this smell of domestication in alcohol and nicotine and self-loathing until Monday. Mondays are for quitting everything. Again. Except when it storms on Monday. Then quitting everything is pushed to Tuesday.

Today is such a Tuesday.

The weekend warriors refuse to sell out and so have fully bought in pound for pound.

Olive is just the same. She too had been sold the notion of party drugs as lazy fun and then fast gobbled them hand over fist. Swallow, snort, smoke; ingestion is an irrelevant matter of personal preference and ease. There is no wall to wall them out. Or in. Drug trends are trendingalong regardless of national media reports daily updating all on their progress east and upward. Olive has watched the same scenes play out on repeat in dark corners of the late night since arriving in Sin Jawns.

And they’ve gone and stashed the kits everywhere to protect against the siren call. A first line of defence kept behind wine bars. Under the bathroom sink. In purses. And Olive knows she must address the long list of reasons why self-medicare is needed to comfort her.

Eventually.

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Something for Everyone

Something for Everyone

edition:eBook
also available: Paperback

Nominated, Scotiabank Giller Prize
Internationally celebrated as one of literature’s most gifted stylists, Lisa Moore returns with her third story collection, a soaring chorus of voices, dreams, loves, and lives. Taking us from the Fjord of Eternity to the streets of St. John’s and the swamps of Orlando, these stories show us the timeless, the tragic, and the miraculous hidden in the underbelly of our everyday lives. A missing rock god may have jumped a cruise ship — in the Arctic. A griev …

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We'll All Be Burnt in Our Beds Some Night

We'll All Be Burnt in Our Beds Some Night

A Novel
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
tagged : literary, humorous

A blackly comic and heart-rending odyssey by the inimitable author of Down to the Dirt

Scrappy tough guy and three-time loser Johnny Keough is going a little stir-crazy awaiting trial for an alleged assault charge involving his girlfriend, Madonna, and a teapot. Facing three to five years in a maximum-security prison, Johnny knows this might just be the end of the road. But when Madonna doesn’t show up for court due to a fatal accident, shell-shocked Johnny seizes his unexpected “clean slate” …

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