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From the Publisher
Back then it was spring. He had a truck. A girl had given him a
picture for his wallet.
1982 starts well for Guy Boucher. But before long he feels the need
to move to the town of Big Harbour to get away from his school,
family life, and most of all "the supreme and utter retardation of
my existence which mostly takes the form of Isadore".
An Acadian adolescent oppressed by boredom and poverty, Guy is made
even more miserable by uncle Isadore who lives with Guy and his
mother in exchange for use of his pick-up truck. Isadore is
determined to make a man of Guy by feeding him drinks at age ten,
coaching him to be an aggressive hockey player, and teaching him to
box and not flinch when he''s hit. Fighting is an accepted way of
alleviating the tedium of small-town life, and violence finds its
way into hockey games and school dances and bars.
Isadore is not an ideal role model, but he''s the only man in the
house since the departure of Guy''s father. Isadore once moved away
to make something of himself, but now is looked after by his
sister, spends his disability cheques on booze, is prone to violent
tantrums, and yet commands a certain local respect. He waxes
eloquent on family values, loyalty and "being a man". He is a
large, confident man, a natural storyteller, and people like to
follow him. But in spite of his speeches, he is only concerned with
himself, ignorant of the needs of others.
Driving the truck to a dance one night, Guy meets the lovely
Corinne Fortune. Corinne also has a physical power that makes
people want to share the glow of popularity. Like Isadore, Corinne
is manipulative, and a compulsive liar who makes up stories for her
friends to fulfil her need to be the centre of attention.
Infatuated with her, Guy has no idea what trouble she will get him
into. Soon there are two older guys hunting him down, and everyone
in town believes he deserves it. Big Harbour is not all he hoped it
Saints of Big Harbour shows Guy''s story from
shifting points of view, from Guy to bookish Pam to the
schoolteacher Alison. The narrative is populated by a host of
lively characters, such as second cousin Ronald, who regularly
delivers "fresh deersteak and a two-litre pop bottle filled with
holy water" to Pam''s house. There are drinkers and fighting drunks
and bitter ex-alcoholics, including those who attend the
inappropriately named Alcoholics Anonymous program at the
monastery. Isadore''s coaching helps Guy stand up for himself, and
in the end he must stand up against Isadore in order to make
something of his life. His survival of a hard adolescence makes for
a heroism all his own.
Saints of Big Harbour handles the bleak subjects
of violence, addiction, small-town mentalities and destructive
families with insight, irony and humour, in a compellingly
accessible style reminiscent of Roddy Doyle.