Monday, August 14, 2006

Reader's Diary #139- Carl Sharpe: Memories In The Life Of A Twillingate Man (FINISHED)

Growing up in Newfoundland, I wasn't always sure how I fit into the whole Newfoundland identity. But then trying to match oneself to a stereotype is always difficult.

To me, Sharpe could be the iconic Newfoundlander. Hard working, family man, loves his wife and kids, goes to church and enjoys an occasional drink. And doesn't have a lot of education.

True, that last one has been the source of many "Newfie Jokes" and has been the sore spot of many of us who have left the province for work, regardless of whether or not we have a doctorate or dropped out of school in grade 3. But still, it's hard not to giggle when Sharpe writes such phrases as "...that was to take it to the oboe on the street..." "Oboe" of course, meaning "hobo". Or when he consistently misspells "well" as "will."

You see, Sharpe left school after grade 8 to fish with his father. The fact that he's written a book at all is quite an accomplishment. And I'm not laughing at him as much as with him, for I really enjoyed his memoirs. Not only did I get a glimpse of my home town in years past, but I feel like I really got a glimpse into the blue-collar psyche. That might make me sound somewhat of a snob, to think we're all that different (my parents after all are no strangers to manual labour themselves) but still Sharpe and people like him are the backbone of Newfoundland and I've often wondered what made them tick, what is it about them that draws in the tourists by the ferryload year after year? Memories has given me insight.

There is a part of Sharpe's character that doesn't help the book: he's too darn nice! It's part of his appeal I'm sure, to never say anything mean and always try to find the positive, but it leaves out a bit of the seedier side of Newfoundland outport life. Oh well, we can always turn to Hatching, Matching and Dispatching I guess.

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