Tuesday, May 13, 2008

#33 - The Ravine

A few years back, I read Paul Quarrington's Galveston. It was a swift read, from what I can remember, with some rather blush-worthy sex scenes and a grand old sense of humour. And other than seeing Whale Music about sixteen times, I haven't read much else by Quarrington, despite him being a mainstay of Canadian literature and having won Canada Reads this year.

[Note: I am blogging while under the influence of exhaustion so pardon my rambling review].

[And isn't that an AWESOME cover?].

Quarrington's latest novel, The Ravine, is his most semi-autobiographical (In his own words the only difference between he and the main character is the guy's name is Phil. Heh.) book to date. The down-on-his-luck protagonist, freshly separated and eagerly co-parenting, attempts to change his life by writing a novel. Up until now, Phil McQuigge, seduced by the blue glow of the television from a young, impressionable age, has grown into a writer/producer managing to stay on the air in "teevee"-land by running a show called Padre. All his life he's wanted to reach his full potential. All his life he's stopped himself short by the bottle, by male stupidity (he loves his wife; he cheats on his wife) and one tragic event from childhood. In a way, I kind of felt like this was Quarrington's Cat's Eye, only funnier. And kind of goofier. And really self-referential and kind of trippy.

The narrative follows the narrator writing the book that the reader is reading.

Yeah.

At 4 AM it was kind of confusing but it's sure as hell good company. Quarrington's narrative barrels along in its own kind of drunken stupor, tangential, argumentative, full of love and great dialogue. The characters are real. Broken. Amazingly complex, but also brittle and ultimately redemptive.

I know I'm not making much sense tonight. But in a way, it's kind of appropriate. How very Phil of me. Now, I am going to go eat dinner. Tonight I might start David Bergen's See the Child or I might try to finish Huckleberry Finn. Let me just say that when I told my RRHB that I was finding Finn a little boring, he sat up in bed and said, "That's because you have no sense of adventure or imagination." Aw. He really does love me.

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