Thursday, March 27, 2008

She's Going...Going...Gone


It’s been a crazy week. Or perhaps the week’s been quite normal but I’m going crazy. Either way, I need to get the hell out of here.

And I am. I’m heading to the cottage tomorrow morning with friends for some “absolutely no responsibilities” time. Way past due.

Plans include eating, sleeping, reading, drinking and laughing – a lot.

(Okay, maybe some exercise, too. I’ll walk on the frozen lake – my friends can go first.)

I have no goal other than achieving some of those wonderful laugh-until-your-abs-hurt-and-the-tears-flow moments. (If it was possible to turn my brain off for the duration, that too would be a goal.)

Stay well.

(I’m leaving you with yet another book review…)




The Ravine – Paul Quarrington



This won’t impress everyone (nor is it pertinent to a book review) but I was tickled that the protagonist of The Ravine grew up in the same neighbourhood I did. (Well, until I was six.) Not only did he attend the same school and named it (Norman Ingram) but I know the ravine he is talking about!

It was the title of the book that caught my eye – that and the first line on the inside of the cover flap. “Every childhood contains at least one ravine…” I may not have explored or searched for adventure in this particular ravine (too young) but I certainly did some reckless exploring of others (or the equivalent) in my childhood. Defining moments indeed.


With self-depreciating wit and humour (the kind I adore) the main character Phil McQuigge looks to his past while struggling to make sense of his life. The “incident” that took place in that ravine haunts him. What actually happened back then???

“Because it seems to me…that I went down into a ravine, and never really came back out.”

Having sunk to an extreme low in his life (marital woes, career woes and edging toward alcoholism) Phil decides to write a novel in an effort to understand how and why he has ended up at this point. The discipline required, the scouring of memories, the questions...surely writing about it will aid him in his quest.

So we have a novel within a novel. Quarrington uses this technique well – manages to keep the reader engaged at every level. Phil talks to us, takes us aside with amusing quips and explanations as he makes his journey and writes his novel.

His (failing) career was as a writer and producer for television. Like so many of us, Phil grew up on a regular diet of television shows and adventure movies. Both these genres have a tremendous impact/influence not only upon how Phil views his life but how he has lived it.

With a sympathetic and engaging protagonist, a host of intriguing characters and a knack for the funny retort, the wicked barb – Quarrington has you smiling and nodding your head with amusement and empathy while you read about such serious subject matter as human frailty, failure and childhood trauma. Quite a feat.

Are the events that took place in our childhoods simply a means to rationalize our mistakes, our inability to cope with the present? Is the past a refuge? A place of solace for our failures? Or is it possible to move beyond those events if we can just learn to forgive – both ourselves and others?

Interesting questions prompted by a well written and intriguing novel.

17 comments:

Rebecca said...

Geez, I read the title and saw the picture and thought you were giving up blogging. My heart sank a little.
Have a great time at the cottage!

Rebecca said...

Geez, I read the title and saw the picture and thought you were giving up blogging. My heart sank a little.
Have a great time at the cottage!

Shari said...

Can I tag along??? I need a break.
Have a good time relaxing and all. If you intend to laugh till the tears come, better not have a full bladder...;)

What a good friend you are to let your friends go first...on the lake. Thin ice anywhere?

Nice review, as usual. Another one to add to the growing list. I'm starting to feel like I will not be able to read them all. Interesting that the ravine was an area you remembered in your old neighborhood. Cool.

Dorky Dad said...

You deserve some time to get out of there, wherever "there" is exactly. Enjoy yourself reading and getting loaded.

Mamma said...

Enjoy your time away!

My boss just told me to stay home on Monday to get some time for me. How amazing is that??

Psychgrad said...

Enjoy the cottage. Looks like the weather will be very nice this weekend. It's beginning to feel a lot like spring (said to the tune of "It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas")

Princess Pointful said...

I so badly wish I had an easy escape like that. Have a great time!

oreneta said...

Cottage country in the winter is so spectacular...and I LOVE Quarrington's work, he is so great. The ravine systems in TO are the best aren't they, I grew up with one in my backyard. You've stirred up a whole lot of lovely memories. Enjoy your weekend.

Beth said...

Have soooo much fun at the cottage with your friends...you so deserve it!!!

Beth said...

Rebecca...I THOUGHT THE SAME THING!!!! I thought, "OH NO!!!!!"

megan said...

I ain't just any friend - I'm a SISTA-friend..........can't wait. By the way, you're going first on the lake...

Sherry ~ Cherie ~ ms. herbes de provence said...

I need to read this book -- given what I've been posting about lately -- n'est pas?? Off to check it out (I'm doing downtown today and will be popping into Indigo for sure)....

Enjoy the weekend chica -- may you and the "girls" have a blast -- and as ever, "ladylike" Beth will allow her friends the honour of walking on the frozen lake in front of her......LMAO!!!!

Sherry ~ Cherie ~ ms. herbes de provence said...

ROFL at Megan -- she knows you way too well Beth!!! That's what happens with Sistas who is also friends!!! :)

Mom of Three said...

It's the same with me. I read Dean Koontz books, not because I think they're particularly well-written, but because they're written about Laguna, where I grew up, and I know the highways and features and everything.

Have a GREAT time!

Cheri said...

Have a great time at the cottage! *sigh* I want to go to the cottage.

Gary said...

Enjoy your time away from planet earth as we know it...

I like Quarrington and just finished King Leary, the Canada Reads winner.

And I too had a ravine in my youth. Just north of Wilson Heights Blvd in Downsview. A huge ravine, filled with towering trees, wild animals and a roaring river. Okay, when I re-visited it 30 years later, it was a trickling creek, scrubby brush and maybe some rats and sparrows, but I remember it differently.

Angela said...

Hope you had a great time!!!!