Have you heard of the novel, Galore? I hadn't. I hadn't heard of it's author, Michale Crummey either--too bad for me. I was sent a copy of it by a generous Canadian friend. Thank you lovely Canadian. Galore isn't due to be published here in the U.S. until March.
Galore is a swallow you whole kind of novel. Speaking of which when the story begins the townspeople of Paradise Deep pull a man out of a whale. I have to suspect that even in the great whaling times of the early 19th century you just didn't see that every day. The whale has beached itself on the shore of this remote village in Newfoundland. When it dies the citizens come together to butcher the whale and gather the blubber for lamp oil. Then just like Uncle Jed's bubblin' crude out from the whale comes an all white dude. True story or so the folklore of Paradise Deep goes. The next hundred years in Paradise Deep are filled with the flux of public opinion, the curse of Judah (The whale man who unsurprisingly never loses his fish smell.) and the savior Judah, blood feuds, ill-fated love affairs, the moneyed of the town verses the hand to mouth, opera singers, paternity questions, alcoholics, scrimshaw, a witch/healer and the kind of legends and characters that come from a very creative writer building a larger than life history.
Galore is a perfect name for this novel by Michael Crummey. It's a word I associate with the word lavish and Galore is a lavish novel. There is a lavish amount of characters, story lines, fish and Newfoundland brought to you in 100% lavish writing. Many writers strive to create a entire community with it's own natural folklore, but who succeeds? In recent memory I'd have to say We The Drowned and Galore both do and...no one else.
If your favorite novels are slim studies of the interior life of characters who have a crisis the level of a hangnail then by all means skip Galore. Only read Galore if you adore terrific writing, invention, unique characters and lots of storytelling. --Oh yeah and historical fiction that doesn't mention a single Tudor, Borgia or Kennedy.
P.S. Some others have liked Galore as well: Winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book, Caribbean & Canada and the Canadian Authors Association Literary Award; Finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, the Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic Book Award, and the Winterset Award.