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Cumberland [Kindle Edition]

Michael V. Smith
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $22.95
Kindle Price: $9.99
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Book Description

Shortlisted for the 2003 Amazon/Books In Canada First Novel Award

A stunning first novel full of empathy, marked by an astounding maturity of insight. Cumberland is both a place and a state of mind; it is a small-town story of longing and loss in the manner of David Adams Richards. It is an exploration of loneliness and the fear of loneliness in lives limited by circumstance.

Cumberland is an industrial town located halfway between Ottawa and Montreal on the shore of the St. Lawrence River. It's facing the close of its factories and mills in the wake of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Ernest, a mill worker whose job is lost when the mill closes, is fifty-two; his employment prospects are poor. His life to this point hasn't equipped him to face any more loss. Longing for companionship, he meets Bea, a waitress at Malouf's, the local pub. Bea lives in an apartment with Amanda, who left home at seventeen because she couldn¹t live with her mother and stepfather. Yearning for a better life, Amanda develops a crush on Nick, Ernest's drinking buddy, who represents many aspects of a better life — he has a Range Rover, owns a house — he is emotionally unavailable to Amanda, being a recently widowed single father.

The lives of Ernest, Bea, Amanda, Nick, and his son Aaron come together, fall apart, and come together again in this memorable and emotionally satisfying novel.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Michael V. Smith is an assistant professor at UBC, where he teaches creative writing. His first novel, Cumberland, was shortlisted for the / Books in Canada First Novel Award. His short fiction has won the Western Magazine Gold Award for Fiction and been nominated for the Journey Prize. In 2007, Smith received the Dayne Ogilvie Award for Emerging Gay Writers and Vancouver's Community Hero of the Year Award. A native of Cornwall, Ontario, Smith currently lives in Kelowna, BC.

Product Details

  • File Size: 447 KB
  • Print Length: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Cormorant Books (November 8, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004BDOUE4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,345,809 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great reader, great novel May 7, 2003
By A Customer
I bought the novel after hearing Michael Smith read at a Toronto event. What an incredible reader - he was honest, spontaneous, and moving. It was interesting how all segments of the audience (all kinds of people) were engaged. Smith breaks down a lot of social divisions - warmly and effortlessly. Cumberland is much the same. An honest portrayal of lives you often don't hear about, in a smallish town. Eye-opening, and very *caring*. You can't help but enjoy reading this, and up feeling very close to some people you might not normally meet in your daily life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Steve
Canada's Michael V. Smith, Ireland's Colm Toibin, Russia's Chekhov. It's hard to imagine the three of them conversing over toast at breakfast. But the books of these writers would cozy up quite comfortable on your shelf.
Ideally, "Cumberland" would have a cover of flannel. It wraps its characters in care as it gently opens their hearts to our view. And like any open heart surgery, there is the hope of a better life after, and the constant forboding of terrible consequences.
A darn good read.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cumberland April 28, 2004
By A Customer
Cumberland is written in an almost effortless prose that seems to melt away and let the mind engage the story independant of syntax, and it's this effortless and affecting prose that becomes the main character in Cumberland, and that in itself is no small feat because the characters are so real you almost begin to think of them with your own names, rather than the names they're given by Smith. The portrait of small town southern Ontario is part Alice Munroe and part David Lynch. There is a dark undertow beneath the still waters of Cumberland, and it's this undertow that gives the novel its main pull. Earnest, a fifty year old, laid-off factory worker, a single man still marked by the death of a six year old son 17 years past, and Aaron, the six and a half year old son of Nick, a mid-thirties widower, form the heart of the story. Smith's two female characters---Bea, a forty-something waitress looking for a commitment from Earnest, and Amanda, a 17 year old on the outs with her family---counterbalance nicely the deeply affected emotional lives of the male characters. This novel is about life in the face of loss, about going on, and about the forceful undertows in the human psyche. This is a good novel by any standard, but, as a first novel, it marks an auspicious debut for the abundantly talented Smith. I highly recomend it.
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More About the Author

Michael V. Smith is a writer, comedian, filmmaker, performance artist and occasional clown teaching creative writing in the interdisciplinary program of the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies at UBC's Okanagan campus in BC's Interior.

Smith's novel, Cumberland (Cormorant Books, 2002), was nominated for the Amazon/Books in Canada First Novel Award. In recent years, Smith won Vancouver's Community Hero of the Year Award and the inaugural Dayne Ogilvie Award for Emerging Gay Writers. He's also won a Western Magazine Award for Fiction, scooped two short film prize categories at Toronto's Inside Out festival, and was nominated for the Journey Prize.

His videos have played around the world, in cities such as Milan, Dublin, Turin, London, New York, Toronto, Paris, Geneva, Berlin, Glasgow, Lisbon, Beirut, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Buenos Aires, SF, LA and Bombay. Smith is an MFA grad from UBC's Creative Writing program.

Vancouver Magazine has considered him one of its city's 25 most influential gay citizens whereas Loop Magazine named him one of Vancouver's Most Dangerous People...

His first book of poetry is What You Can't Have (Signature Editions, 2006), short-listed for the ReLit Prize. In 2008, he published a hybrid book of concrete poems/photographs, Body of Text (BookThug), created with David Ellingsen.


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