A coil of rope
A Flemish flake is a spiral coil of one layer only.
It is made on deck, so that it may be
Walked on, if necessary.
THE ASHLEY BOOK OF KNOTS
Much like that coil of rope, our protagonist, Quoyle, has also been stepped on all his life. A great damp loaf of a body. At six he weighed eighty pounds. At sixteen he was buried under a casement of flesh. Head shaped like a crenshaw, no neck, reddish hair ruched back. Features as bunched as kissed fingertips. Eyes the color of plastic. The monstrous chin, a freakish shelf, jutting from the lower face.
He stumbles into the newspaper business through a friend he meets one night in a laundromat in Mockingburg, New York. He is not very good at it. He also meets Petal Bear, a small woman he yearns for, they share a month of happiness , followed by six years of misery, two children and a multitude of scars, seared into his flesh from her indiscreet, two timing ways. Petal Bear does not value Quoyle or his children. Alone, without work, without a wife, on the heels of his father’s death, he decides to gather his children and follow his Aunt Agnis to his ancestral home on Newfoundland’s stark and majestic coast.
It is there, working for The Gammy Bird, a small newspaper, covering the shipping news, that Quoyle battles his inner demons and struggles to build a new life for himself and his daughters. But Quoyle is a man defeated, a man with no love of self. He even considers himself as a headline for one of his stories. Stupid Man Does Wrong Thing Once More.
I wanted so badly for Quoyle to find some gumption, to love himself just a little. When an oil tanker docks a Killick-Claw, Quoyle writes an article about it. Before release, the entire tone of his article is rewritten by the managing editor, only this time Quoyle is incensed. “This is a column”, bellowed Quoyle. “You can’t change somebody’s column, for Christ’s sake, because you don’t like it! Jack asked me to write a column about boats and shipping. That means my opinion and description as I see it. This” – he shook the paper against the slab cheeks –“isn’t what I wrote, isn’t my opinion, isn’t what I see.”
At last! I was so overcome with sheer joy that I leapt out of my deckchair, threw my arms in the air and let loose a resounding “YES”! (okay so my neighbours may think I am a little hinky)
This is a great story, with a cast of truly colourful characters but if you will bear with me for just a moment, I would like to talk about what this book, wrong or right, said to me.
You cannot leave your past behind, no matter where you travel, there too, it is.
Everyone is worthy, not all heroes are tall, dark, handsome, beautiful, sexy, confident or comfortable in their own skin.
You cannot run, but you can dig deep and you can find a new hope, a new joy in life.
Family is defined not only by blood but also by bond, by those who are there, in the dark and the light.
These homes of love we build, house many rooms, sanded and painted in the shades and colours of our life, furnished with those moments that, however inconsequential they may seem to others, have in fact, defined us.
Cover beauty is coveted and exploited; provides keys to all the right doors, but it is our inner selves, our own moral code that is the true compass to the coveted life of beauty, peace, happiness and love.
I am not going to lie. I love the fact that this story unfolds on the stark and beautiful, majestic coast of Newfoundland, a province in the land I call my own.
Very rarely do I change a rating on a book once I have set it, but in this case, how can I not. Trust me, this story is worthy of every one of those five stars.
Finally I would like to thank Steve who wrote an incredible, heartfelt review of this work that put it on my radar.