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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Reader's Diary #1670- Dennis St. John: Yellowknife

I was more than a little skeptical of Dennis St. John's Yellowknife novel. I couldn't find any evidence that he'd actually been here or had any real connection and the photo on the front depicted mountains, of which there are none in or near enough to Yellowknife to see (the Mackenzies are far to the west bordering Yukon).

Turns out that the locale hardly mattered despite the insistence of the title that it does. What little time St. John does take describe Yellowknife, is not accurate mind you, but he avoids talking about it for the most part. He gets a few last names right (such as Football) but then other details makes it sound like Alaska or Yukon. At best it's a hybrid of the three. The Mackenzie Mountains are, for what it's worth, a major setting.

Unfortunately the book falters on so many other levels that accepting a fictionalized version of Yellowknife and moving on is not really a choice. The pacing is problematic, with character development shoehorned into one exceptionally long chapter, the action is implausible, and the character motivations are just bizarre. Attempts at philosophizing are handled clumsily and unnecessary.

With some editing, perhaps it could be salvaged as a genre action novel by scrapping any ambitions of being high literature.

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