Heave by Christy Ann ConlinHeave by Christy Ann Conlin


byChristy Ann Conlin

Paperback | December 3, 2002

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Bursting with wonder and delicate despair, Serrie Sullivan longs for the world, but she’s trapped, just like Dorothy in Oz. Serrie’s got a nasty secret. It’s festering inside her, because in the gothic Annapolis Valley, hey, that’s what you do -- you never show and you never, ever tell.

As she dashes from her wedding altar on the run of her life, ardently wanting to understand what has brought her to this moment, Serrie sweeps us up in an exhilarating and poignant journey from rural Nova Scotia to London bars, to strip clubs by the docks, through mental hospital wards and rehab centres, back to quiet verandahs and porch swings in serene Lupin Cove. Along the way we meet a delightful array of off-beat characters including Serrie’s best friends, Dearie and Elizabeth: Dearie, the anglicized Acadian who wants to go to New Orleans to find her Cajun relatives, and Elizabeth, who would like nothing better than to spend the rest of her life picking strawberries.

Heave explores the joys and agonies of family, of what one generation inherits from the next, and of how past and present are inexorably linked. Memories weave through the book as Serrie searches for equanimity in a life that intoxicates her with its beauty as it knocks her to her knees.
Born in Nova Scotia, Christy Ann Conlin has travelled widely and apprenticed as a storyteller in Northern Ireland. She has an MFA in creative writing from UBC, and has had plays staged in Halifax and Vancouver. Conlin lives in Halifax.
Title:HeaveFormat:PaperbackPublished:December 3, 2002Publisher:Doubleday CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0385658087

ISBN - 13:9780385658089


Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Gritty yet Beautiful Novel Set in Nova Scotia I love that this book takes place in rural Nova Scotia. I read it again because I was missing the East coast and Christie Ann Colin takes you right there. I think "Heave" is the perfect title if thought of in terms of expelling something. The main character Serrie has swallowed a lot of crap and needs to get it out of her system so she can be relatively happy or at least content. Conlin never glosses over any of the tough experiences and I admire the tenuous ending, it felt realistic. It made me kind of sad but at the same time it was catharctic. It's a book I'll read again and again.
Date published: 2008-03-23

Read from the Book

FLOOD TIDEDEARIE ALWAYS SAID, "GO TITS TO THE WIND."And I am.Going so fast it seemed as though I was hovering above myself, watching as I went veil first into those massive oak doors in the foyer because no one makes a getaway in high heels. Just look what happened to Marilyn Monroe – naked, bloated, DOA. That’s what happens when you wear high heels. I put my hands out, just like they taught us in high school gym class, you know, when spotting someone on the trampoline: hold up hands, don’t push, let the person touch and then bounce back to middle. But only an idiot would wear high heels on a trampoline and there was no bouncing back to the middle as those shoes took me down on that hot June day, my sweaty hands flat on the cool oak door panels only long enough to feel the old wood on my palms and I was crashing straight through the doors that hadn’t been properly latched, yards of silk dress floating behind me like a flock of angels as those carved oak slabs were falling silently shut. Magic it was that pieces so large could move with no noise, wrought-iron hinges no doubt well-oiled by the latest sexton. I slipped through the crack and left the musty church behind, all those pews full of stunned guests, and then the sweet outdoors was in front of me but I was crashing backwards as the doors slammed shut, the stupid billowy dress jammed in the doors, and I was smashed back and up, three feet off the top step, hand pounding back into the hard wood, pain dull and distant, and then me, dangling there, garland of flowers down over my eye, battered bouquet of freesias and roses still in my right hand, its scent floating up on the hot summer air, enveloping me in the sweet and squashed miasma of my life.My life seems to have been about crashing backwards. Ever since I finished high school, which really wasn’t very long ago, I’ve been on the run, so to speak. On the road. I mean, I bolt in the middle of things. Well, I finish some things and bolt. I took off to Europe and then landed in a rehab-sort-of-nuthouse (I wasn’t insane, believe me. I was just temporarily unable to communicate.) I started a degree – Classical Studies. I enjoyed the Greeks and Romans. I enjoyed the books, always looking to them as a getaway, a portal in time. Actually, I enjoyed the building the classes were in. The Classical Studies Department was located in a series of grey Victorian houses that ran along a quiet Halifax street with huge sweeping trees. I still don’t know the name of the trees.I was pulling at my dress, the skirt wedged up there with the bodice, and the goddamn jeesly antique lace train that Aunt Galronia had insisted on attaching was pulled tight in the door, most of it still inside. I was pulling, wiggling, tugging, my sweaty skin squeaking against the wood, trying to demolish my vintage 1940s wedding dress, and just thinking about the dress made me so mad that I pulled even harder. “So much for antiques,” I hollered. Somewhere in Foster a lawn mower buzzed. A huge jerk and then ripping and buzzing were one roaring sound as the silk and lace tore and I fell to my knees, hands out in front, drooling libations on the indoor/outdoor green carpet covering the steps. And then I was up with the remains of the dress on me, and a bit of the train hanging off my butt with yards of it still inside the doors. I wondered if it was laid out along the aisle like a banquet tablecloth with all the guests on either side waiting for me to be served up and then I heard Grammie say in her clipped dry voice, You know that old saying, he who hesitates is not only lost but miles from the road out, so I launched off the steps, kicking one high heel over the railing, and sending the other soaring over the heads of the late-arriving guests, second cousins from Ecum Secum with lips going round, opening and shutting, not saying anything, me thinking how people mostly get that piscine look when they are horrified and then it was me smiling and panting, not knowing whether to say hello or goodbye or to cry or pose for a picture and then Grammie’s voice again, Now or never, Serrie.I threw the bouquet up in the air and took three steps at a time because being in bare feet is being eight years old and eight-year-olds don’t worry about how many steps to take, not like a twenty-one-year-old woman in high heels and a princess dress who can only do various forms of teetering.Flaps of dress fluttered as I ran down Main Street, pulling at the ripped bodice, shedding pieces of silk until there was the red bra that I had worn, the only vestige of the rogue I had thought I was. At least up until we were in front of the preacher. Actually it started when I saw Elizabeth’s head, the back of her head. I admired her wispy bits of hair and thought what a flattering style it was, wondered why it was done so daintily, with little daisies in it. And the hairdo got blurry and I wondered about that too, realizing the daisies were blurry because Elizabeth was right up there now, at the altar with my groom and the preacher and the best man who had been making bad jokes and smacking everyone on the back. And then it was all blurry.And so I went. I walked up to the front, wondering if the guests could see my red bra, or at least the suggestion of the bra. It was lacy, really pretty, a push-up. But I didn’t think so. I was the only one who knew about it besides Elizabeth who had helped me dress. I focussed on the teeth. There were so many teeth. I assume this is because people were smiling. At weddings, people usually smile, right? Goddamn, it was like being surrounded by Mormons. I always think of Mormons as people with big white teeth. But no one was Mormon here. It was the Foster First United Church, in old-style Nova Scotia, where change is slow like winter and tradition as strong as the forty-five-foot tides of the Bay of Fundy.Those white teeth became a haze of cotton and the music was squeaking. God, it was terrible, which surprised me – my brother is a concert violinist.From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

“This is a wildly energetic debut, alive with characters so vivid they very nearly eclipse one of the tenderest, truest depictions of Nova Scotia life and landscape I think I’ve ever read.” -- Lynn Coady“Some books, such as thing debut novel…should arrive with the kind of abe that come on cigarette packs: WARNING: Excess of Talent, Visceral Reation May Ensue. Conlin…has produced an extraordinary book…that won’t soon be forgotten.” -- Toronto Star“Conlin proves herself a keen observer of family life, adept at teasing out the loose ends and following them to uncover the lumps and knots in the fabric.” -- Hamilton Spectator“Fresh as a Sea Breeze” -- Vancouver Sun“Highly visual and visceral prose” “Right from the first line Heave is a crazy ride” -- Halifax Daily News“One book I will not be passing on is Nova Scotian writer Christy Ann Conlin’s marvellous first novel Heave. This book prompted a whelp of excitement from me. “ -- Noah Richler, National Post“Heave is simply a marvellous book.” “Heave is a powerful book”. “Conlin’s style is precise, the intensity often startling. She writes with a truthfulness that is passionate.” -- Michelle Berry, Globe and MailFrom the Hardcover edition.