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Monday, August 15, 2016

Reader's Diary #1353- Bryan Manning: She's Gone West Indie


Bryan Manning's "She's Gone West Indie" started off so strong and I was loving it. The language is so authentic, so rife with real Newfoundland vocabulary and colloquialisms that I suspect many non-Newfoundlanders would find it difficult, and yet it felt natural, unforced. But the essence of Newfoundland is not just captured in the words but the details themselves: the macho masculinity that suppresses conversation even between a father and son, the homophobia, the turrs.

 All that richness aside, it fell apart at the end. So badly and abruptly that I wondered if the story was excerpted or the publication accidentally omitted a link to the second page.

I'm also at a lost for the title. In the story, one of the men clearly has had a difficult time dealing with the death of his mother. I wondered if "gone West Indie" was a local Newfoundland euphemism for death for some reason or another. (As much as the rest of Canada likes to think of Newfoundland English as one consistent language across the whole province, it can vary greatly from outport to outport and this might have been an expression unfamiliar in my neck of the woods.) I also Googled the term. I did find a joke that went:
Person 1: My wife's gone to the West Indies.
Person 2: Jamaica?
Person 1: No, she went on her own accord.

But I can't really see much significance in that (beyond a wife leaving), so it might be just a coincidence.


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