You can almost sniff the brine in this richly-described journey of a broken man who finds his bearings in the margins of a tough Newfoundland village.
Proulx’s prose takes you right there, a bleak place peopled by rough characters who eke out a meagre existence in a world of harsh storms and deep superstitions.
The story is beautifully crafted and many layered. It shows warmth and humor in a community that never has it easy. But it also delves into the darker side of a place where child sex abuse, inbreeding and savagery are never far away.
The vivid imagery is a constant source of pleasure and it never flags. This introduction of a weather-beaten, seadog is a great example of the kind of thing you’ll find: “Diddy Shovel’s skin was like asphalt, fissured and cracked, thickened by a lifetime of weather, the scurf of age…” I raced through it at a rapid rate of knots and all too soon it came to an end.