Monday, October 03, 2005

#51 Smoke

Smoke, Elizabeth Ruth's second novel, tells the story of Brian "Buster" McFiddie, a young boy who suffers from terrible burns after falling asleep drunk, with a lit cigarette and an open bottle of liquor in bed. The one thing that saves Buster from both a terrible depression as a result of his injury and, well, death, are the kind words and tender hands of Doc John, who tells the boy stories of Detroit-area mobsters to take his attention off the burns.

The novel, set in the 1950s, in a small town in Ontario called Smoke, where the majority of the inhabitants are tobacco growers. It's a rural town, but it's not your typical "small town Canada" kind of novel. It's a novel that explores outsiders in the purest sense, from Buster, now disfigured as a result of the accident, to Doc John himself, each hiding secrets as easily as they hide in the shadows of society (to an extent).

It's a brash, bold, even brilliant second novel. And one that fit perfectly into my melancholy afternoon coughing, spluttering and generally feeling sorry for myself being sick for the second time in three weeks.

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My Boy is Ten

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