Friday, May 12, 2006

Reader's Diary #86- Kevin Major: No Man's Land (Up to Ch.3)

After suffering through The Plains Of Passage over the past few weeks, Barbara suggested reading something fun next. Well, I'd hardly say a novel about WWI is anyone's idea of fun (especially after just suffering through two for Canada Reads), but I do have my reasons for reading it next.

First and foremost, I wanted to read No Man's Land because it's by Kevin Major. Major is one of Newfoundland's most prolific author's having dabbled in children's lit, young adult fiction, adult fiction, and nonfiction. Yet despite the great number of books and awards, I've only read two of his works; Eh? to Zed and Blood Red Ochre. But since I'm a little worn out from war novels, why this particular book?

That's where the CBC comes in again. More specifically, that's where CBC Newfoundland and Labrador's Radio Noon comes in. On June 16th, they're having an on-air discussion of this novel and if things go right, I might get some input. More on that as it develops...

Also, the stage version of the novel is set to be part of this year's Winterset Festival. And since I'm hoping to attend, I'd like to read the book first.

But enough of the why, let's get to the what.

The first chapter unfortunately did nothing to alleviate my qualms about reading another war novel. It's full of the typical WWI cliches; the young French love interest, the pocket-watch memento, and so forth. I know such things were legitimate parts of the war, but when you've heard them time and time again, they do not make a great opener for a novel.

However, the second chapter helped the book recover a little. Instead of being just "another war book," it started to become a Newfoundland war book. Newfoundland dialogue and personalities began to colour the book, making it much more interesting. I especially liked the guys who kept pretending they were still fishing back home. There's a certain ironic sadness underneath- you know their jokes mask homesickness- and even though you know there's even more sadness to come, for the time being the two characters are comic and add a certain joviality to the scene.

I'm looking forward to the rest and I'm hoping that those dull history lessons will become more meaningful- even if it is through fictional characters.


Rebecca said...

I read Hold Fast a few years ago, and loved it. So I'd be interested in learning more about the other things he's written.

John Mutford said...

Hold Fast is one of many young adult books that Major has written- it seems that age group is where most of his energy has been focused. Though I haven't read it, your recommendation sells me on it much more than the one on Amazon which claims it's the 2nd best Canadian children's book of all time, behind Anne of Green Gables. That's a bit much.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

That sounds like a good one! I've finally finished the longest book I've read in a while as well, and have just started on Life of Pi. But my daughter just got Fight Club from the library and I've been eyeing that up jealously now.

Thanks for the shout.

John Mutford said...

Barbara, I'd love to hear your thoughts on Life of Pi when you're done.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Absolutely, but I must warn you, it seems lately I only have time to read when I go to bed, so it could be a while before I finish. Sometimes I'll wake up after half an hour and I'm still stubbornly hanging onto my book.
I take it you've read Life of Pi?

John Mutford said...

Barbara, Yes I read Life of Pi- it was up for a Canada Reads a few years back. I really liked it and it bothers me now that critics seem to have Life Is Beautiful syndrome- that is, they all raved about it until it became popular, then they went 180 and talked about how bad it was. Critics can be such snobs.