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Galore Paperback – March 29, 2011

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Editorial Reviews Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, April 2011: Out of the belly of a whale, Michael Crummey pulls the marvelous story of Paradise Deep, a remote settlement on the northern Newfoundland coast, a place "too severe and formidable, too provocative, too extravagant and singular and harrowing to be real," teeming with fierce rivalries, affections, and loyalties spanning five intertwined generations. His tale opens in a hungry winter, when a beached humpback arrives as an unexpected gift and the townspeople convene to claim their piece. From a slit in its gut spills a man--white, mute, and eerily alive--who assumes a central role in the lineage of the Divine family. Alternately feared as a devil and revered as a healer, Judah fathers a fish-scented son with the raven-haired Mary Tryphena. Their family comprises the heart of the town's rich mythology, with all its ghosts, mermaid trysts, strange accidents, miraculous babies, and impossible loves, rendered in language so gorgeously raw, it will transport you to a land whose sky is "alive with the northern lights, the roiling seines of green and red like some eerily silent music to accompany the suffering below." --Mari Malcolm

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Crummey (River Thieves) returns readers to historic Newfoundland in his mythic and gorgeous latest, set over the course of a century in the life of a hardscrabble fishing community. After a lean early-19th-century winter, a whale beaches itself and everyone in town gathers to help with the slaughter. But when a woman known only as Devine's Widow—when she's not called an outright witch—cuts into the belly, the body of an albino man slides out. He eventually revives, turns out to be a mute, and is dubbed Judah by the locals. Judah's mystery—is his appearance responsible for the great fishing season that follows?—is only one among many in this wild place, where the people are afflicted by ghosts and curses as much as cold and hunger. Crummey's survey eventually telescopes to the early 20th century, when Judah's pale great-grandson, Abel, sequesters himself amid medical debris in an old hospital where his opera singer cousin, Esther Newman, has returned and resolved to drink herself to death. But before she does so, she shares with him the family history he never knew. Crummey lovingly carves out the privation and inner intricacies that mark his characters' lives with folkloric embellishments and the precision of the finest scrimshaw. (Apr.)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Other Press (March 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781590514344
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590514344
  • ASIN: 1590514343
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #277,267 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Michael Crummey is a poet and storyteller and the author of several critically acclaimed novels. His most recent book, Galore, won the Commonwealth Prize for Canada. He lives in St. John's, Newfoundland.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

87 of 95 people found the following review helpful By Debra Rodgers on September 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Michael Crummey was born & raised in Newfoundland, lives there still, and has set all of his meticulously researched novels & collections of short stories thus far in this beautiful, windswept, and harshly-demanding Canadian province.

is set in the outport villages of Paradise Deep and The Gut, joined by the Tolt Road over the headland between them, in an undefined period that covers most of the nineteenth century and the first few years of the twentieth. The novel chronicles the lives of two rival families (the Sellers and the Devines) for six generations, and I often referred to the genealogy chart at the front of the book, especially during my first reading.

Inspired by the works of Gabriel García Márquez, Crummey has combined the starkly difficult conditions of pioneer outporters with a touch of magical realism. According to Wikipedia, magical realism is "an artistic genre in which magical elements or illogical scenarios appear in an otherwise realistic or even `normal' setting." This is Crummey's first use of the method in his novels.

Part 1 of Galore more or less moves around the life of Mary Tryphena Devine who is nine years old the winter day that a whale beaches itself in the bay. From the whale's belly emerges, half-dead, the man who becomes known as Judah, the Big White, whose presence will affect the lives of all in the port, and none more so than Mary Tryphena's.

As Mary Tryphena matures, marries, has sons (one illegitimate), and then grandchildren, the story goes back and forth between the history of Mary T.'s grandmother (Devine's Widow) and her parents, and the interconnection with King-Me Sellers and his grandson Absalom. The boy Absalom has fallen in love Mary T., who unbeknownst to him, is his first cousin.
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39 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Beth C. on August 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I had occasion to read an Advance Reading Copy of Michael Crummey's third novel, Galore. It's the first Michael Crummey I've read, and I now know I need to read anything else by him I can get my hands on.

A multi-generational tale of community, Galore is set in a small fishing village in Newfoundland - exactly when and exactly where are not revealed. The story begins with the death of a whale, and a shocking discovery inside its belly.

It tracks generations of two families, the Sellers and the Devines, and their rivalries, grudging inter-dependence, secret romances and superstitions.

The village is entirely dependent on the mercy of the ocean - to provide their food, to return their sailors home safe, to not wash away their homes. Year after year, babies are born, people die, people marry, hopes are raised and dashed, and the ocean is there for it all, along with the mystery the dead whale brought.

I enjoyed this book tremendously. Galore is a treat to read, by turns dark and slippery, funny and quirky, heartbreaking and tragic, and the people feel real enough to touch. Their stories can't be put down. I recommend it highly.
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62 of 71 people found the following review helpful By K. Sullivan VINE VOICE on March 29, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Life in Paradise Deep is harsh and unforgiving. The small fishing community ekes out a meager existence often teetering on the brink of starvation and freezing to death during the bitter Newfoundland winters. "Galore" follows the lives of the motley inhabitants of the village over a century or so - largely focusing on their relations one to another and the evolution of the village itself.

Michael Crummey's storytelling was certainly unique - whether for good or ill. The story lacks both a principle protagonist and a central conflict and abandons any precept of proceeding chronologically within the book's first three paragraphs. The narrative is like a tangle of thread. Picking a random thread, the author slowly pulls it free, patiently revealing it to the reader. At some point the thread snags another. He turns his attention there, pulling with equal care and deliberation. Before each thread is free, another is snagged. Thus he bounces back and forth in time revealing some event or chain of events in the life of one character or another. Undoubtedly an oversimplification, but perhaps a more fitting analogy would be jumping from branch to branch on a family tree.

The result is a series of related but thinly drawn anecdotes. The characters were deeply human, but so quickly were they used and discarded, little attachment was formed. The book overflows with treachery and tragedy, but everything was given such short shrift the impact was severely limited. The mechanics were also unique in that the dialogue was denoted by hyphens or paragraph breaks instead of quotation marks.

The supernatural or mythical played a very minor role.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Alan L. Chase VINE VOICE on March 18, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Michael Crummey has penned a novel that combines the best elements of "The Shipping News" and "Moby Dick." In the hands of a lesser writer, the tale could have easily devolved into something cartoonish and bizarre. But Crummey has cobbled together a Dickensian cast of characters who inhabit two small desolate villages on the remote coast of Newfoundland - far from the "metropolis" of St. John. The action and mythology of the story covers several generations of the denizens of Paradise Deep and The Gut, with men and women and other worldly creatures struggling to scratch out a living from the sea. Throw in biblical elements of a man born from the belly of a beached whale, spectral figures that refuse to rest in peace following their death, tension among Anglicans, Catholics and Methodists, the burgeoning labor movement, World War I - and you have a rollicking tale. The description of the characters, place, smells, tastes, and blood feuds are so vivid that each time I picked up the book I felt myself instantly transported to this far off and alien world.

Even the laconic and taciturn Newfoundlanders speak volumes through their clipped speech, silences, deliberate actions, stubborn inactions, enigmatic looks, and miasmal smells. This is a very sensual story - assaulting all of the senses in a way that allows the reader complete immersion into the lives and ethos of the fictional communities.

This novel is destined to become a classic. I loved it.
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