Okay, insert sound of breath being expelled forcefully from your gut. An anxious and disturbing read for certain. But a really very good one too.
Synopsis: (taken from Goodreads) When Eli Fagan discovers the secret his eleven-year-old stepson has hidden in an old pickle jar, he is filled with blinding rage. As he destroys the jar’s contents, brothers Roy and Lewis Trench, in a drunken prank, stumble into Eli’s yard, and their poor timing costs Roy his life. Though the courts rule the death a tragic accident, the event opens a seam of hate between the two families of Knife’s Point, Newfoundland. Powerfully written, with vivid and unflinching prose, Glass Boys is an utterly riveting, deeply moving saga of the persistence of evil and the depths and limits of love.
I’ve only read two books from Newfoundland writers, Glass Boys, and The Bishop’s Man but I’ve found they both write in this distinct, dark, and secretive manner. Glass Boys is beautiful writing, extremely thought provoking but very disturbing though. I did of course feel more anxiety when reading Glass Boys and was by far more disturbed, but I at times thought back on The Bishop’s Man and how both authors would write about a situation, not fully coming out with the truth in it, but leaving much up to reader speculation.
What did Garrett have in that jar? (well, we find out) What were Wilda’s past secrets? What does Eli really mean when he takes his wife so brutally each time saying “this is what I am, not the other thing”? The reader is left to sort through these hidden thoughts and fill in the answers on their own for much of the story.
The Newfoundland which Lundrigan writes of is dark, depressed, backwater and filled with abuse. And troubling boys. Oh those troubled boys. In the very beginning, I felt sad and sorry for Garrett, as I thought Eli quite cruel, but as he grew, as the story evolved, he changed, and oh my how difficult it became to feel anything but distaste for him. Deeply, deeply disturbed boy. (I do have to say I liked how she tied up this story between Eli and Garrett towards the end.)
“Before Eli stepped forward, he felt the very air change. Heavy now. As though weighted with something forbidden. Something ugly. He believed Lucifer was lingering around the boy, drawing circles through the air, and his heart knocked hard against his ribs as he rushed out from the brush.”
This novel is not necessarily strong in plot, if that’s what you’re after, but rather one that delves very deeply in to these boy’s lives, their minds, their family situation, abuse, their environment, the consequences of life and how it shapes them in to the men they become.
Her writing is both stark and yet in many places quite beautiful.
“To know the blood tie had been severed, the mind tie might follow.” (Wilda)
Stark, yet great.
“As he moved over the earth, dragged by his brother, Melvin was aware of something new expanding within him. Something outside the realm of childhood. A loathing, deep and cold. Not for the snowflakes themselves, but the spaces in between.”
“could smell the lie of sugar, and the truth of grown-up sweat.”
I’m quite anxious to talk to Nicole on Tuesday night (November 29) to ask her what the inspiration was for writing this book? Why? It’s a very exciting thing being able to talk to the author personally about their books…if you can join us, remember to register over at Opinionless and we’ll hear from you on Tuesday night at 9 p.m.
Others involved in the Opinionless book reading have already posted their reviews…and yes, as they have said, it is difficult to put one particular rating on this. She does a splendid job of creating anxiety, disturbing the hell out of you, but there is sadness and tenderness as well, there is beauty in her writing. Many parts I wanted to mark down as they seemed quite lyrical. But…huge expelling of breath for the disturbing stories/lives these boys have. But she wonderfully captures the strong bond between brothers and the ending/combining/bringing together of the scattered stories and lives was perfect. And Toby couldn’t have said anything more perfect to Wilda than what he did. Bang on baby!