I'm taking a break from a book review to write about another book. Funny, eh?
D.R MacDonald is a writer I don't hear much about, and that's too bad. His novel Cape Breton Road is one I re-read frequently, for the lush descriptions and lean prose, yes, but more for the descriptions of Cape Breton and the characters who inhabit the lonely landscape. Like many of my favorite books, it reminds me in ways of where I grew up in Pennsylvania, the way the woods can look at night as you walk them and listen to the magical noises you can hear when everything else is quiet.
Plot-wise, there's nothing terribly complex going on. 19-year-old Innis is a native of Nova Scotia living in the United States who gets deported for a rash of car thefts he commits in Boston, where he and his mother live. In the company of INS agents, he's escorted back to Cape Breton to live with his bachelor uncle. Needless to say, the two don't get along, and Innis's only hope of getting out is the money he'll get from the pot he's planted far back in the woods on this uncle's farm. The meat of the story begins when his uncle's girlfriend Claire moves in and both men begin to compete for her affections. The real strength of this book is in the prose style and the eccentric characters Innis runs into, not least of whom is his uncle Starr.
There are also highland Scots and whisky priests, sea captains and tv repairmen, all revealed via prose that never seems hurried or less than complex. If the ending is less than satisfying for some readers, that's okay; it seems true to what I know of 19-year-old men.
D.R. MacDonald's also written a nifty collection of stories called Eyestone, and another novel called Lauchlin of the Bad Heart, which I have not read, but trust MacDonald well enough to get it.
You can read some of it via Google Books and look at reviews from the online booksellers. Trust me and disregard the people who gave it ones or twos.