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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Guest Post- Ann Weir's review of Kenneth J Harvey's Inside

Based on Kenneth J. Harvey’s novel Inside, freedom doesn’t come easily to the wrongfully convicted, even after being released from prison. Set in St. Johns, Newfoundland, Inside tells the story of Myrden, a man whose first name we don’t learn, and his struggles to resume his life after serving 14 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit. Myrden is somehow trapped in an antagonistic relationship with his wife and family who, beyond waiting to share in any financial windfall, don’t seem to care that he’s been released. His old enemies still threaten him, the media hound him and even the police treat him differently, by ignoring his transgressions and not protecting his daughter and granddaughter from an abusive man. Myrden himself doesn’t even seem sure of his own innocence. He does have two people in his corner; his stand-up-type-of-guy best friend Randy, who goes to battle to protect him in a bar fight, and his former/current girlfriend Ruth, who embodies calm, poise and a lonely middle class lifestyle.

 Inside is written in short and sometimes fragmented sentences, closely resembling a stream of consciousness style. That combined with the subject matter and Myrden’s ambiguously flawed character make this a difficult book to read. The writing style forces us to be right there with Myrden when he is drunk, angry, confused and in physical pain. The only heart of gold in this story appears to belong to Randy, with Myrden’s lawyer a distant second. Even Ruth’s motives are difficult to understand or appreciate until the end of the book. I respect Harvey for tackling this subject matter, but I was hoping for a more uplifting story, something with some joy or even relief at a wrong finally being made right. But maybe that’s not how these stories actually turn out in real life. A sliver of redemption does peek through at the end of this book, but it’s a tough road to get there.

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