“Slaney had to believe there was a connection between people. He had to believe trust was pure too. It was worth fighting for. He trusted Hearn. He could say that out loud. It would be better that way. And he had no choice. Trust lit up on its own sometimes without cause, and there was no way to extinguish that kind of trust.”
Lisa Moore has an unusual writing style. There is an untutored quality to her writing that feels unique and unpracticed. It makes this reader slow down, and read more thoughtfully. There is no formula. The things Moore chooses to highlight in her writing somehow lead readers down the rabbit hole of associations and one is drawn into her fiction almost against our will.
In this novel, the young man Slaney escapes from his jail sentence for importing narcotics into Newfoundland and seeks out his former partner for another swing at the piñata. If writers write about what they know, the reader can’t help but wonder which side of this story Lisa Moore knows most about—the drug running or the law enforcement side. She makes it into a spine-tingling story, with a young man evading the law following him at every turn.
We have a slightly queasy feeling in the beginning, knowing our man means to try his hand at drugs again, despite having lost four years of his twenty-five to the inside. We know early on, too, that the police know his whereabouts and are allowing him to think himself free. Then there is the title, about which, even halfway through, we are still not sure. We want to suspend belief. We come to admire our man Slaney. He is so focused, dogged, and somehow pure in his devotion to an idea.
“It was the certainty that satisfied some desire in the audience. The best stories, he thought, we’ve known the end from the beginning.”
This novel has been shortlisted for Canada’s largest literary prize, the Scotiabank $50K Giller Prize, and for the 2013 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction prize. Moore had been Giller-nominated twice previously, for Open (2002) and Alligator (2005). Her 2010 novel February, about the Ocean Ranger oil rig disaster on Valentine’s Day 1982, was long-listed for the 2010 Man Booker Prize and won the 2013 Canada Reads award.
This year’s Giller Prize jury features Margaret Atwood, Esi Edugyan, and Jonathan Letham, and the other shortlist novelists are Dennis Bock (Going Home Again, HarperCollins); Lynn Coady (Hellgoing: Stories, House of Anansi Press); Craig Davidson (Cataract City, Doubleday Canada); and Dan Vyleta (The Crooked Maid, HarperCollins). The winner will be announced on November 5, 2013.
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