Jeff's Reviews > The Museum Guard

The Museum Guard by Howard Norman
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's review
Jun 10, 2008

really liked it
Recommended for: people who want some hard driven Canadian drama.
Read in May, 2008

Okay, so I've seen other people write very highly of Howard Norman's work. I've had The Bird Artist sitting on my shelf for awhile now, and while I probably should have read that book first (since I did buy it first), but I liked the cover to The Museum Guard better.

The Museum Guard takes place in Halifax, Canada.

What? Where? Who writes books about Canada? I mean who cares?

The Museum Guard takes place just before World War II when Canada was rife with tension over the impending war they felt they might be forced into entering.

I'm sorry? Had Canada even been invented by the time World War II rolled around? Rife with tension? Did anyone even live in Canada at the time? I hadn't even heard of Canada till they got their first NBA team in 1995. Prior to that I thought they were a country of bears and fish. What did they use as weapons in World War II? Do they have guns in Canada?

Okay, that aside, it really is a good book. Norman has a very bare bones writing style that agrees with my reading sensibilities.

Defoe is a security guard, making very little money, working as a security guard with his uncle in a small art museum in Hallifax, Canada. Defoe is a simple man surrounded by overly eccentric types: An eggheaded and uppity museum curator, a snooty museum tour guide, an over-opinionated/ man whore of an uncle, and the worst, Defoe's crazy girlfriend.

I don't want to give too much away- but Defoe's crazy girlfriend does something crazy, which drives Defoe mad. All of Defoe's "friends" allow and even support Defoe's crazy girlfriend in her craziness, which makes Defoe even angrier, but since Defoe is poor and simple Defoe's eccentric friends don't pay much mind to Defoe, and allow the crazy girlfriend to be crazy in her craziness.

In the end the crazy catches up with everyone, and, I could be wrong about this, but I think Defoe learned not to get so wrapped up in craziness... and I think this is a lesson we all would do well to learn- taught to us by NWA: Life ain't nothin but bitches and money.

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