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Everything: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, July 6, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
The disaffection from a purposeless life unites the characters in Canty's painstakingly crafted novel of backcountry Montana. When longtime friends RL and June memorialize the 11th anniversary of June's husband's death, they're confronted with the emptiness of their lives. RL seeks new beginnings with an old acquaintance undergoing treatment for cancer, while June contemplates selling her house. Into the mix is added RL's sweet but depressive college-age daughter, who engages in an ill-advised affair with an older man beleaguered by a dull marriage. Though the narratives rarely cross, Canty's adept handling of structure and themes makes them all feel like part of the same conversation, and the few points of intersection resonate sharply. An able minimalist, Canty (Nine Below Zero) is skillful at evoking the weight of a lifetime's quiet angst in mundane moments. The story offers few moments of grace for its luckless characters, but it's full of life, and the occasional bright spots are hard-won and authentic. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Montanans June and RL are linked by their affection for Taylor, who died several years ago just shy of his fiftieth birthday. Taylor was June's husband, her one and only true love; he was also RL's best friend. The survivors must now go on with their lives. For June, it means abandoning the grief she's been clinging to for too long. For RL, it's enjoying time with his daughter, Layla, who will soon head back to the University of Washington for the fall term. As the novel progresses, RL finds himself entangled in a complicated relationship with Betsy, a onetime flame who is battling cancer. June, too, finds herself in the throes of romance with the real-estate agent who appraised her house. (She has mixed feelings about selling the multimillion dollar property, though having that kind of money certainly wouldn't hurt.) The plot of Canty's latest work (after Where the Money Went, 2009) tends to ramble, but the novel deftly renders the stark beauty of Montana and the free-spirited souls who inhabit it. --Allison Block
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Top customer reviews
Ganty continues the great flow and tradition of wonderful author/instructors that University of Montana has had over the past 50 years or so. being a native I know, its the mountains.
The story, while similar in theme perhaps, doesn't read like anything you may have read before...it reads easily and flows freely and captured me from the start.
Well worth your time and money.
Perhaps she will take grad courses at UM and THEN I'll be able to meet Kevin.
White Bear Lake, MN and
The characters that comprise this novel overlap, and each chapter is primarily about one or two of the characters. There is RL, owner of a bait, tackle and guiding shop who has not had a loving relationship in years. He is a big man - in girth, spirit and appetites. He likes his booze and he wishes desperately for a woman. He was married for a while to a Dead Head who followed the Grateful Dead for years, leaving him to raise their daughter, Layla, on his own. Layla gives meaning to his life. She is nineteen years old and a college student. When not at school, she spends her summers in the Montana wilderness with RL where most of this novel takes place. Layla is recovering from a love affair gone amiss. RL realizes that Layla is not likely to be with him for much longer. He is trying to learn how to let her go.
RL decides to take in an old lover of his who is having chemotherapy for melanoma. In the back of his mind he hopes to resurrect some sort of relationship with her despite the fact that she is married. Betsy helps give some meaning to RL's life because, with Layla in college, he faces the empty nest syndrome. With his big heart, he needs to give. However, with his huge appetites, he also expects a lot from others.
June is a close friend of RL's. She was married to RL's best friend who died eleven years ago. As the book begins, June decides to give up her widowhood. Her husband, Taylor, was her great love but now she wants another love. Eleven years of grieving is a long time. On top of that, she is a hospice worker, spending her days with the nearly dead.
Edgar is RL's employee, an artist and lover of fishing. He 'knows' fish and feels at one with the trout that inhabit the rivers of Montana. He is married with one child and another on the way. He is trying to make some difficult decisions in his life.
Canty has an inimitable sense of place. The reader feels like the Montana mountains are looming. I felt the lushness of the land, along with the hard life the inhabitants face. This is not a land for the weak but it can be a land for the lost - an end of the road place where people depend on one another. There is a lot of alcohol consumption in the book but there is rarely a mention of television or movies. Despite the loneliness of all the characters, they depend on one another for sustenance.
The characters speak to us in what they don't say as much as what they tell us. This is a book about everything that makes us human - love, work, life, money, pain, joy, loneliness and connection. Canty gets it. His characters run the gamut of the soul. They are not sweet, nor are they urbanized. I pictured them in Carrhartts and jeans, rubber boots and down parkas. I felt their hands get cold and traveled with them on the dirt roads that were slick with mud or snow. I felt their pain and I soared with them in those rare moments of joy. It takes a fine author to take me to the depths of despair and soar the height of joy with his characters.
Another wonderful book by Canty is Winslow in Love.
Let's see, maybe he's trying too hard to write about ordinary people who don't understand themselves and aren't doing much to further their understanding and going nowhere but to drink more, screw more, escape to the woods and streams more, and bang about life without much insight or direction as if that was a good thing. That may be OK for some, ordinary people, unexceptional, but these kind of folks can ultimately be boring.