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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Reader's Diary #65- Lisa Moore: Alligator (up to p. 140)



Two more things I like about Alligator:
1. The setting. And not just because it's St. John's (the greatest city on Earth- well, that I've been to anyhow). One of the most memorable Canada Reads moments for me is when panelist Zsuzsi Gartner defended Barney's Version by saying books should not be hermetically sealed (it's a phrase she seems to enjoy spouting- but apt nonetheless). I agree with her conclusion and reading through Alligator, it's a pretty safe assumption that Moore does too. I'm practically in St. John's as I read this novel. George Street, the Ship, spanworms, Walmart, the Sundance, the Village Mall, Sobey's Square, MUN, etc all make brief cameos. In terms of the plot they're insignificant cameos for the most part, but in terms of painting a realistic setting, quite significant. Ah St. John's, I miss you. Spanworms and all. Hey, the more I think I think about it, Spanworms should have been the title of this book. They're more "S. John's" and while the "head in the alligator" metaphor is okay, an argument could be made for spanworms being a better metaphor for these characters' lives. Furthermore, think of the word "span" and then read on to my 2nd point...
2. Cross chapter similarities. While it is only in the most recent chapter that the lives of these characters are beginning to intertwine, Moore doesn't allow you to forget the other characters or chapters as she shifts from one perspective to the next. Subtly or not, she throws in references that remind you of what you have already read. For instance, Valentin's superstitious side (the number three is somehow significant) can easily be compared to superstitious beliefs of Beverly (birds in the house are omens, migraines are related to the supernatural). Likewise Isabel's spanworm infestation blends in with Frank's spanworm ordeal. Likewise Madeleine dwelling on her divorced husband Marty, is reminiscent of Beverly's preoccupation with her deceased husband, David. It's a very connected novel, there's a common thread (like that of a spanworm) that spans across it.
(tee-hee)

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