Minister Without Portfolio by Michael WinterMinister Without Portfolio by Michael Winter

Minister Without Portfolio

byMichael Winter

Hardcover | August 27, 2013

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Shortlisted for Canada Reads
National Bestseller


“Minister Without Portfolio is a masterful examination of the very marrow of life. . . the stylistic comparisons between Winter and Hemingway (or Winter and Carver) are pretty much rote, but they’re accurate. . . Minister Without Portfolio is essential reading, an honest, and at times frank-to-the-point-of-discomfort exploration of guilt, loss, faint hope and struggle. It peels back the surface calm and reveals the roiling, cold depths beneath, the currents that threaten to pull one down, that must be fought with all our strength.” - National Post


Henry Hayward has been living life the way he's wanted—working hard, playing hard—but when his girlfriend tells him she's leaving, it destroys him. In a quest to recover, he joins an army-affiliated contracting crew that takes him overseas to a Canadian base in Afghanistan. In the company of friends, he begins to mend: having laughs and being rebellious, blithely unaware of all he's left behind. But everything changes during a roadside incursion when a routine patrol turns fatal. And Henry, who survives, knows in his heart that he is responsible.

 

Upon returning home, tormented by guilt, he resolves to take care of the people and places around him: Martha Groves, whose boyfriend was killed in Afghanistan; his friends and neighbours; and a summer home that needs revitalizing. Henry tries his best to seek roots after a rootless life, collecting around himself a "community of a hundred people" for whom he cares deeply and is responsible. But he hasn’t factored in family history and social infidelity—and Martha has a revelation of her own that may change everything.

Minister Without Portfolio illuminates the power and violence of self-creation. It asks: To whom are we beholden? Who do we adopt—and who couldn't we live without? It is an emotionally affecting work, filled with truths about the frailties and miracles of human nature, by a writer of exceptional talent.

MICHAEL WINTER is the author of The Architects Are Here, which was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and The Big Why, which was shortlisted for the Trillium Book Award and longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. His previous novel, The Death of Donna Whalen, was nominated for the Writers' Trust Fiction P...
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Title:Minister Without PortfolioFormat:HardcoverDimensions:336 pages, 9.3 × 6.3 × 1.1 inPublished:August 27, 2013Publisher:Penguin CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0670067156

ISBN - 13:9780670067152

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Reviews

Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good Read Good read, was not what I was expecting. Very realistic with PTSD symptoms as Henry returned from war.
Date published: 2017-02-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from There is a possibility for you to enjoy this, especially if you are a teen. You see—I cannot reconcile this book; I cannot remember anything about it, to be honest. After being introduced to the Canada Reads debate by my English teacher, I decided that I wanted to read a majority of these Canadian novels. Minister Without Portfolio was one of them. I wanted to read one of those books that are comical, but come with a point. Maybe this is because I'm a teenager; I just do not get these "adult concepts." By concepts, I simply mean adult situations. I have not been tormented in the way that Henry has, or have had marriage issues. I just could not relate to this book or the author's writing. This story seemed like a chore, not a book that I read just for enjoyment. If you are older than I am and enjoy these simple, philosophical stories, this could simply could go well for you. I am not saying that a teen cannot like this—no. There is a large possibility, but everyone always has their different opinions on books. But hey—there are positives. There are things that I actually enjoyed about Michael Winter's story. He must be a popular author for those reasons. Winter creates a character who acts like he's in his mid-life crisis, which seems comical but is completely serious. Henry deals with some kind of PTSD, stress disorder that takes him out of living his normal, ordinary life. He walks around, but as I could tell, there was no meaning in his footsteps. He moved through the story being quite depressed, which demonstrated a completely depressing mood for the whole story. I am still confused to this moment if that was what the book was supposed to provide; I could just not tell. Minister Without Portfolio is a story where the readers endure. They endure all of the plot's events and how Henry goes on his own personal journey of his life. Once again, I am unable to relate to Henry's character in any way, which is something I usually rave about a character after reading a great book. This seemed a little too boring for my liking. If you expect some serious action, this is not the right story for you. Instead, we have a slow-moving continuation of a man's life and how he himself cannot contemplate his own feelings. What are the great things about this story? It's written by a Canadian author in a Canadian setting, it's extremely comical, and you feel bad if you put it down. I endured some kind of sympathy for Henry, for a man who is stereotypically supposed to undergo his feelings and save himself. I found myself giggling from time to time, and you seriously cannot take this book seriously. Everything was meant to be placed into this book for a reason, but there are only a few readers who understand why, and see the positivity; I am not one of them. There, I have said it. I am not the biggest fan, whoop dee-doo.
Date published: 2017-01-17

Editorial Reviews

Longlisted for Canada Reads 2016Toronto Star fiction bestseller"[Winter] is a writer who dangles the delicate bait because he knows we will take it, then sets the hook and reels us in hard. And when he has us in his boat, all we can do is stare up at him, gasping, not sure if he'll club or release us. And frankly, as readers, we don't care. We're thrilled, simply, to be along with him for the ride." - Joseph Boyden, Giller Prize-winning author of Through Black Spruce“Evocatively told with spare, poetic elegance, this is a story of the love and life which can grow from a terrible loss. Henry is a man torn between escaping a past tragedy, and embracing its implications fully within his own life. Set in rural Canada, where the reverberations of world events can both shatter lives and offer the potential for redemption, Minister Without Portfolio is an essential, modern, Canadian novel.” - Vincent Lam, Giller Prize-winning author of Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures and The Headmaster's Wager“Michael Winter gives us the story of a man who suffers a shock, searches for a foundation, and rescues a home. This is a book about old-fashioned love, the very unlikely, smoking hot, so lucky you came across it kind. The lasting kind of love that blazes like a forest fire. In Minister Without Portfolio Michael Winter takes a ballpeen hammer to your heart and finds the veins of gold. Every sentence is an ungrounded wire, megawatts of ebullience, wonder and sparking-spitting joy. Electric prose.” - Lisa Moore, author of February and Caught“Reading Michael’s fiction is a lot like hearing him talk about his life. Packed with odd but compelling incidents that in anyone else’s hands would feel exaggerated or fake. Harrowing, in an after-the-fact hilarious way. Full of wonder and mystery. A hangover you wouldn’t miss for the world.” - Michael Crummey, author of Galore and River Thieves“Minister Without Portfolio is a masterful examination of the very marrow of life. . . the stylistic comparisons between Winter and Hemingway (or Winter and Carver) are pretty much rote, but they’re accurate. . . Minister Without Portfolio is essential reading, an honest, and at times frank-to-the-point-of-discomfort exploration of guilt, loss, faint hope and struggle. It peels back the surface calm and reveals the roiling, cold depths beneath, the currents that threaten to pull one down, that must be fought with all our strength.” - National Post"Another tour-de-force from one of Canada’s most exciting writers" - – Zoomer"Almost Tolstoyan in its sense of weighty importance." - Toronto Star