- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Anvil Press; 1 edition (April 15, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1895636736
- ISBN-13: 978-1895636734
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,686,715 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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About the Author
Annette Lapointe holds a PhD in Contemporary Canadian Literature and teaches literature and gender studies a the Universities of Winnipeg and Manitoba. Her first novel, STOLEN (Anvil Press, 2006), was nominated for a Giller Prize and was the winner of two Saskatchewan Book Awards (First Book Award and Saskatoon Book Award). She currently resides in Winnipeg.
Top customer reviews
This is one of my favorite examples:
Tim is only tangentially her friend. They intersected in Saskatoon's geek network. It's a layer of the city Rowan doesn't often get to see; he missed it by skipping university. All the engineers, a cross-section of the computer guys, and their girlfriends and exes and gaming partners have locked into their own tribe. They're producing strange kids at an alarming rate, but none of them are stupid.
I bought this book last year and have reread it several times. If you aren't threatened by descriptions of alternative lifestyles I would highly recommend this book.
The book is set in and around Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, a small, cold, isolated Canadian city buried in the heart of the prairies. The world Lapointe constructs is familiar to me, although I grew up nearly a thousand kilometers northwest in another small, cold, isolated Canadian city. The culture is the same I'd known growing up: northern, rural, and poor, constructed on a mongrel foundation of Mennonite spiritualism, cowboy nostalgia, failing industry, mental illness, and substance abuse.
Rowan, the novel's protagonist, is brilliant, antisocial, prone to hyperactive compulsive disorder, and deeply alienated. A sociopath, in other words, but not without redemptive qualities. At 22, Rowan has already been institutionalized a couple of times and creates videogames based on the Manson Family murders. His family history is dotted with incest, schizophrenia, and severe neglect. His mother is a mess, his father a ghost, and his best friend and lover, Macon, is quickly swallowed by a justice system that doesn't know what to do with young boys who have nothing but time on their hands and a desire to watch the world burn. The dustjacket calls Rowan an "unlikely and unlikeable protagonist," but I found him to be all too realistic and accurate. Likeable, too. We grew up in the same house, after all, just hundreds of miles apart.
Diana Gabaldon, the author of the Outlander series, talks about the "shape" of a book in her blog; she describes her thick, fat, thousand-page historical novels as a wave, or a bell. Lapointe's book (nominated for the Giller Prize, which is a damned prestigious award for a first-time novelist) looks more like an triangle. The beginning is sharp, pointed, and painful. We're given sketches of Rowan's life, and Lapointe's bare-bones style draws his daily existence in terms of drug deals, fast food, eBay, and the aching sense of disconnection that is the inevitable byproduct of coming from nothing and going nowhere.
Incredibly, though, things get better. I wasn't expecting that, given the precision and pain of the novel's opening, but this isn't a story about Rowan's further collapse and insanity. He does cruel things; blowing up his highschool and burying a winter-thawed corpse is the least of it. But as Lapointe guides us through his personal history, sexual awakening, and his abortive foray into the geek/fanboy culture of Saskatoon, there's an unfolding sense of hope and optimism that manages to blossom despite the harrowing circumstances of the rest of Rowan's life. The novel angles out from the razor sharp beginning to show trust, forgiveness, friendship and connection. Rowan meets Alex, a young skateboarder/middleschool math teacher, and the two fall in love and set out on the northern highways to find Rowan's father.
The inverted structure - tragedy giving way to hope - worked really well, and the agony of the early and middle passages is relieved by pitch-black humour and budding romance. It's an unconventional structure, but it shows Lapointe's enviable confidence and flexibility as an author. She's destined for great things in Canadian literature.