Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Alligator” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.31  ·  Rating details ·  1,522 ratings  ·  141 reviews
Lisa Moore’s wickedly fresh first novela Canadian best seller, winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (Canadian and Caribbean region), and a Globe and Mail Book of the Yearmoves with the swiftness of an alligator in attack mode through the lives of a group of brilliantly rendered characters mingling in contemporary St. John’s, Newfoundland. St. John’s is a city
Hardcover, 306 pages
Published September 30th 2005 by House of Anansi Press (first published September 1st 2005)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.31  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,522 ratings  ·  141 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Alligator
The nice thing about unravelling a Sudoku is: in the end it either fits or it doesn't; if a mistake has been made, whether by a careless realignment or a lapse in logic, it's clear that I've got it wrong. When trying to put together the shards of Lisa Moore's Alligator the solution does not appear upside down after the acknowledgements. I may have it wrong. Embarrassingly so. But the writing so deliciously excites the imagination paragraph after paragraph that I feel like I can't be alone in ...more
I loved Alligator so much. It's not perfect -there are certainly a few things that some would find offensive- but I don't understand why the average rating isn't higher. Lisa Moore is my favourite contemporary fiction author. Like Moore, I was born and raised in Newfoundland, so the Newfoundland setting drew me in and definitely adds to the appeal for me, but my appreciation for her books goes so much further than that. Her unique style embodies everything that I adore and her characters feel so ...more
Geoff Seymour

I wanted to like it, I really wanted to like it but I just didn't find any of the characters likeable. I think each chapter is very well written, and I think as a series of short stories it could be a decent collection but as a novel I found the lack of continuity between chapters jarring. The subject of each chapter shifts between characters, and because I really didn't like any of them, I found it difficult to keep track of what was happening to whom. I also felt let down by the lack of
This author has a true gift for place description and feelings laid out so evocatively, but her style of chapter intercutting is too annoying. I really would love to read a novel she writes fluidly, rather than jumping around back and forth, person to person, year to year. It is frustrating and I am not sure why I cannot accept her strategy except that I see it as a weakness in a writer, rather than a strength.
These characters were more interesting than February but I am curious whether I would
Rebecca McNutt
Taking place in the capital city of Newfoundland, Alligator was a half-decent enough novel although I definitely could've done without the eco-freak teenager and inconsistent characters. The plot didn't seem to go anywhere but the writing style was great and I think the author still has potential.
Aug 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A novel of a first novel! Love the style, the writing...more later! In the meantime, highly recommended.
Kristine Morris
May 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian
Picked this book from the library shelf because of it's alluring cover. Lisa Moore is a very skilled writer. Her ability to describe the details of ordinary things is amazing. Many authors can do this, and somehow Moore describes things you have seen yourself, can identify with immediately, so it feels almost as if you are reading about your own memories. For example, at the beginning of the second chapter: "...the warm night breeze jostles the handful of forget-me-nots sitting in a Mason jar of ...more
Michael Belcher
Aug 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have rarely had such a visceral reaction to a book as I did with "Alligator." Closing the book after finishing, I felt a seething anger towards life, which was mixed with a sublime terror not unlike what that moment right before being attacked by a slithering, obscured reptile must feel like. There are instances of empathetic humanity in the novel, but the undercurrent is of a pervading thoughtlessness that spins progressively out of control. The characters cause each other immense pain and ...more
Too choppy, too disconnected, too many stories, too many characters. The book jumped around far too much to hold my attention, and the less attention I paid the less I liked it. My memory of it now is much like a black-and-white newsreel on fast forward, with no chance to grasping enough of any one scene to understand what was happening. Perhaps the author described her own writing technique when she described the process of acting, on page 294: That is acting: the alchemy of absence and ...more
Crystal Allen
Feb 26, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Crystal by: Barb
Shelves: 4mybookclub, fiction
I read this book while I had the flu and actually found it to be a pretty quick read. I like Lisa Moore's writing however this book didn't feel like a complete novel to me but rather a series of short vignettes. It was told from at least 7 different peoples' points of view and while I normally love that type of style this book never really came together for me. I enjoyed reading from Coleen and Frank's point of view the most and wish that Moore would have focused on just their points of view and ...more
Jun 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Life has you in its teeth. You can either submit or you can fight.

Everyone in this story is passionate, broken, and resolute. The 17-year-old Colleen outwardly wants to save the earth, inwardly is bent on her own destruction. Frank loses his mother to cancer, leaving him alone in the world. She has extracted his promise to go to college, so he works every night at his hot dog cart to save tuition money. Colleens mother Beverly slogs through each day, four years into her sudden widowhood.
Nicole A
I really enjoyed the writing style of this author, but the story was one that had a different character perspective for each chapter, and it took me til about 2/3 through the book to really follow who was who and what was happening. Made it harder to grt into the story.
Joanne Seitz
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed Lisa Moore's "February" which is a novel about the Ocean Ranger sinking and its effect in St John's Nfld. But this book - which is also set in St. John's - is beautiful. There were pages where I thought I would like to take out paragraphs and frame them, her writing is so lovely. The characters and their relationships are complex and non-derivative. Loved it.
Jigsaw pieces... Before you start piecing them together to see the bigger picture, that's what Alligator reminded me of most.

The book is written using different viewpoints and the chapters are named after the character who is giving the reader his or her part of the story. It is not always clear from the start of a new chapter how a character will fit into the story and this intrigued me, because I knew there would be a connection with one or more of the other characters sooner or later.

When Id
Nov 18, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
12/31/2010: Because I loved Lisa Moore's second novel (February) so much, I wanted to read Alligator, her first. (Before Alligator, she published two volumes of short stories.) And I'm glad I did, as I loved seeing not only how much Moore has grown and developed between the two novels, but also what has remained consistent.
Alligator is told by multiple narrators who are each somehow linked to at least two of the other narrators. This narrative form can sometimes be confusing, especially if
Sep 27, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a bizarre exercise in stream of consciousness writing, this novel seems to lack substance until somehow, something clicks and the structure is thrown into stark relief. I was especially compelled by the dynamism of these relationships, how subtly the struggle between love, disappointment, fear, and hate played out throughout the network of characters. I admit that I found this narrative style to be outside of my comfort zone, and so the regret I feel in finishing any book was here tinged with ...more
Erin Reads Rants Raves
4.25 / 5
It took me awhile to warm up to this book but once I did, I found the characters and their interwoven plot lines compelling.
This is a beautifully crafted character - driven story about a group of people whose lives butt up against each other. These people will stay with me for a long time.
Mar 09, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
So detailed and evocative in its sentences, yet so scattered and plot-less in its story! I'm not a fan of train-of-thought novels, and I had to force myself to finish it. I will say that being a Newfoundlander, I liked the setting, but it unnerved me that the source of all evil-doing originated in Hr Grace. Ha!
Jun 06, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What to say about this book? It was an okay read, although I wouldn't recommend it. Lisa Moore's writing style is interesting and unusual.
The many stories from many characters past and present blend better than I would have thought. It was a fair book. Not a great one.
Corinne Wasilewski
A book about survival and how some of us live for love and others of us live to run from love but it's love that drives us either way. I found the book easy to read and hard to put down.
Nov 19, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is so much to like in this book if you're a fan of good writing. Writing chops galore. You've got vivid settings offering a flavour of St John's, Nfld, well-fleshed characters from the margins of life, and razor-sharp details -- whoa, the details! Precise, evocative, curious. All good stuff. And conflict? Aplenty. Boy wants girl. Girl wants out. Russian wants bad things. And everyone else pursuing their own small dreams.

But if you're a fan of a good story ... this can be an exasperating
Aug 22, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Terribly disappointed on this book.

I read February and picked it as the winner of the Canada Reads competition in 2013 and was delighted to find this book at the library. But I found it confusing and rather bizarre.

There are ten (?) characters in the book. Each has their own story to tell. They are all loosely connected to Colleen either directly, or because she knows a character that then interconnects with another character. But it just didnt click with me.

None of the characters were really
Peter B
Picked this one up right after reading February. Once again some very strong characters but either my reading habit which stretched over almost three weeks or the novel itself made the whole thing seem quite scattered. Maybe that was the intent, as the characters themselves were all over the place. The plot begins with a Russian ship stranded in the harbor in St. Johns Nfld and a Russian sailor who comes ashore. He is seductive and vicious and burns down the house of Isobel, the actress he ...more
Jayne Charles
The prose in this novel is spiky, intelligent, incisive and illuminating in ways that more conventional prose cannot ever be. That said, its not an easy read - several sections I had to re-read several times before I understood what was going on. It seemed to meander around, with its small group of characters bumping gently off one other without anything substantial actually happening; then there is a brief flurry of drama, then its over. I kind of wanted the alligator of the books title to ...more
Dec 30, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoy Lisa Moores writing - her words seem carefully chosen. Small scenes, like Colleen in the exam room with her doctor, are described so honestly. I appreciated her ability to bring the seemingly random characters together in Alligator, but I was wishing for more depth or focus on just one of them ... it could have been Frank or Colleen ... or any of them (except the horrifying Valentin who struck fear in my heart) rather than galloping through the story touching only the surface of so many. ...more
Ian Carpenter
I still love her writing and the second I started this I was thrilled by it all. But I found myself losing steam as the story went on, some characters crossing, others perpetually circling each other. It has a beautifully moving ending that points to many of the characters' independence from each other. In the end their stories didn't win me over or give me the kind of resolution or emotional impact I was craving.
Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newfoundland
This book follows several plotlines involving inter-connected characters.
With the exceptions of Frank and his friend Kevin, none of the characters are particularly likeable and none of them are all that interesting, or even realistic, in spite of extremely well-crafted, vivid descriptions.
However the plot makes up for it (at least part way), and it is possible to appreciate this book as a novel without liking any of the characters.
You don't tell the truth....But what you tell becomes the truth. p119

This debut novel from LM certainly stretches credibility but with deft humour she captures the complicated reality that defies it. Her characters may be distinctly eccentric and not entirely reliable, but we get them.

First you think the lines out, and then you say them. Say the lines as if everything had been settled. p294
Jun 15, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't like it. Sometimes it worked to have a story line that stretches over a very short time and the reader gets to know the characters via their biographies. But in this novel I didn't see the point. Especially when a new character gets introduced by the end of the book and i have to read about his backstory when he serves no apparent purpose at all. Sorry but n.
Tamara Taylor
Jul 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: can-lit, read-in-2017
Beautifully and starkly written. Every word counts and is perfectly selected. Moore has a gift of crafting precise description of the everyday. Her characters are believably flawed, and, more often than not, massive jerks. This somehow makes the tale more relateable. I loved the setting of St. John's, the mention of Ches' and the irony of a hotdog stand entrepreneur aptly named Frank.
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Empire of Wild
  • No Great Mischief
  • Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club
  • The Piano Man's Daughter
  • Three Day Road
  • The Assassin's Song
  • The Wreckage
  • 419
  • Galore
  • The Book of X
  • River Thieves
  • The In-Between World of Vikram Lall
  • Son of a Trickster
  • H.M.S. Surprise (Aubrey & Maturin #3)
  • Women Talking
  • 77 Fragments of a Familiar Ruin
  • The Girl Who Was Saturday Night
  • One Story, One Song
See similar books…
Lisa Moore has written two collections of stories, Degrees of Nakedness and Open, as well as a novel, Alligator.

Open and Alligator were both nominated for the Giller Prize. Alligator won the Commonwealth Prize for the Canadian Caribbean Region and the ReLit Award, and Open won the Canadian Authors' Association Jubilee Prize for Short Fiction.

Lisa has also written for television, radio, magazines

Related Articles

Need another excuse to treat yourself to new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our list,...
3 likes · 1 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“While he sat there he decided he would buy a waterbed. He had always imagined owning a waterbed when he was successful, but now it struck him that getting the bed might invoke the man he wanted to become. You bought a waterbed and so became the sort of man who owned a waterbed.” 3 likes
“Afraid was good, he thought. Change requires fear, he knew this too.” 1 likes
More quotes…