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The Ravine

3.42  ·  Rating details ·  162 ratings  ·  22 reviews
One morning in Don Mills, Phil and his brother Jay agree to let their friend Norman Kitchen tag along on an adventure down into a ravine — and what happens there at the hands of two pitiless teenagers changes all their lives forever. Years later the horrifying details are still unclear, smothered in layers of deliberate forgetting. Phil doesn’t even remember the names: Ted ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published March 11th 2008 by Random House Canada
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Average rating 3.42  · 
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Aug 06, 2018 rated it liked it
“I went down a ravine and never came out,” is the introduction to this novel, and it sums up the life of narrator Phil, a proxy for the author, in this his last and most autobiographical novel.

Something happens when Phil and his younger brother, Jay, go down a ravine near their home with their school friend, Norman. Although we never find out what the two older boys, Ted and Terry (or was it Tom and Tony? Even the younger boys’ memories are selective about the event) did to the three pre-teens,
Ben Babcock
Aug 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is my first Paul Quarrington book, but after reading it, I will definitely read more of his work. His writing reminds me of Douglas Coupland, only with a slightly more Ontario flair. As a resident of Thunder Bay, I smiled at the few scenes set there. It's nice reading fiction by Canadian authors set in Canada.

The last book that I read, Mistress of the Sun, had a great beginning but a lacklustre ending. The Ravine is the opposite: I wasn't too impressed by the beginning, but by the time I
Aban (Aby)
Aug 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book which is sad but, at the same time, very funny. It's the story of Phil McQuigge who, having thoroughly messed up his life, is trying to reflect back on it and come to some sort of understanding of how it all went wrong. Pivotal to his retrospection is an incident that occurred in his childhood when he, his brother, and a friend were attacked by two older boys.

Then book tends to go back and forth in time and between a large variety of characters. Scenes and language are also
Lynn Kearney
May 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
Probably only a 3.5 - the ground has been covered before - but I'd forgotten how funny he is. Good old Canadian content doesn't hurt either.
Sep 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Despite the unattractive cover art, Paul Quarrington's The Ravine is a charming and quick read for those who enjoy unconventional narrative formats. Phil McQuigge, our main protagonist and narrator, tells the story of his life through a combination of tell-all novel excerpts, conversations turned television screenplay and snippets of diary-like explanations. The novel opens with a transcription of a call to a suicide helpline, with no context to frame it besides the dialogue itself. The Ravine ...more
B. Glen Rotchin
Aug 02, 2013 rated it liked it
This novel kept me at a distance most of the time. Partly, this was due to the nature of the protagonist, a guy who is essentially in denial (or as he puts it The Twilight Zone) about a traumatic incident that has supposedly altered the path of his life culminating in screwing up every decent and worthwhile relationship he ever had (wife, brother, friend). Phil is a hard guy to like and the only thing that keeps his voice from sounding self-pitying is its comic edginess, which kept me engaged. ...more
Jun 02, 2009 rated it liked it
I'll admit I rolled my eyes a little when I discovered The Ravine is a "novel within a novel." I thought, Ugh, this has been DONE--to death. But Paul Quarrington ensures that Phil McQuigge's voice is sound and distinct, and I enjoyed reading his "novel", especially because it is made clear that his perspective is flawed. For me, that is what made the book interesting, as it allowed me to imagine the "truth" rather than knowing it outright.

However, the book slowed down for me as I discovered
Feb 11, 2016 rated it liked it
This was my first encounter with Quarrington and I must say I expected more. its not that I'm totally unsympathetic to middle aged angst nor the tragic necessity of coming to terms with ones own choices and false authenticity, but i quickly grew tired of the whiny protagonist and his too clever tricks. in his attempts to endear himself to his readers with self conscious asides and disclaimers bumping into bald admissions of appalling insensitivity, he certainly alienated me.
what saved this book
Jan 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
Paul Quarrington continues to be one of my favorite writers. The fact that he is Canadian only increases the bliss.
His description is delightful with language such as, "The hair was sandy and tired and would have been happier on the head of a bank manager. It lay on top of his head like tangled bedsheets, and no doubt contributed heavily to his air of bitterness. Which was obvious."
Quarrington is funny even at the most sensitive moments and slaps you in the face when you are not expecting.
Try an
Dec 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
not an overly long novel, the author tells the tale he sets out to tell without dragging it out. it's sad and funny and the characters are hapless and at times careless with their lives, but they are likeable and i find myself rooting for each of them. and i loved the ending. simple and in keeping with the story - it feels true.

endings seem difficult for story tellers, so i really appreciate the ones that feel right - the way this one feels right
Jan 18, 2010 rated it did not like it
I am putting todays date as the date I finished reading this book. To be honest I tried and TRIED to get through it but was completely uninterested in it and finally gave up. I think this is the only book I have not completed in the last 6 years at LEAST. I RARELY do not finish a book even if I don't like it.
Sorry... I couldn't even force myself through this one.
Tina Siegel
Feb 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
I wasn't sure Quarrington's meta style of narrative, the writing about writing and self-awareness of the storyteller. But it did. It was distancing (which the narrator himself admits that he's trying to get from his own life) but I still enjoyed the book. I kept on reading. That's a testament to Quarrington's skill as a writer. Not for everyone, but definitely a good read.
Jun 24, 2013 rated it liked it
- from the jacket: "One morning in Don Mills, Phill and his brother Jay agree to let their friend Norman Kitchen tag along on an adventure down into a local ravine - and what happens there at the hands of two pitiless teenagers changes all their lives forever. Years later the horrifying details are still unclear, smothered in layers of deliberate forgetting."
- not bad
Jun 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Ravine is the 2nd Paul Quarrington book I have read and I love his quirky writing. This story follows 2 brothers as they deal in adulthood the trauma they suffered in childhood. I love the dialogue, it is realistic and humerous even if it is dealing with the darker side of life.
There are moments, including the ending, that are terribly clunky and I think the central conciete is lame, but Quarrington is funny and finally, even though the protagonist us a complete putz, he is endearing. Plus I was never bored, and I looked for opportunities to pick it up.
Jan 30, 2014 rated it did not like it
I really wanted to like this book - it had the potential of being SOOO good - unfortunately I thought it was poorly written and I just couldn't get into it -
I finished it with the hopes it would improve - sadly it did not.
Oct 20, 2009 rated it liked it
A well known Canadian author - this book set in Toronto about a man's bad childhood experience in a Toronto ravine ( came a bit close to home)
Quarrington has an interesting style of writing - sometimes you ahve to guess between the lines, but it was quite a good read.
Aug 29, 2014 rated it liked it
Not quite sure I like his writing style. He lost me a few times.
Wendy Hearder-moan
Jan 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Interesting narrative techniques and local colour kept me reading, but I couldn't relate to any of the characters.
Jan 12, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Didn't enjoy this book that deals with adults trying to come to terms with an episode of abuse that took place long ago in their neighbourhood ravine.
Apr 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
LOVE the way this man writes...real...yet not...not my usual novel...not my usual characters...but interesting because of that perhaps?
Jul 13, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
Just couldnt get into this... ...more
Mark Victor Young
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May 25, 2009
Jason Oldham
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Jun 28, 2017
rated it it was ok
Jul 15, 2014
Mark Roberts
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Nov 14, 2012
Kevin G
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Oct 05, 2018
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May 26, 2012
Brian O'Dea
rated it it was amazing
Feb 19, 2010
rated it really liked it
Aug 26, 2012
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Paul Quarrington was a novelist and musician, an award-winning screenwriter, filmmaker, and an acclaimed non-fiction writer. His last novel The Ravine was published in March 2008. His previous novel Galveston was nominated for the Giller; Whale Music won the Governor General’s Award for Fiction. Quarrington won the Stephen Leacock Medal for King Leary, a title that also won the 2008 Canada Reads ...more
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“The man behind the check-in counter gives the impression that he has just axe-murdered the motel's owner (and family, and family pet) and is going through these procedures of hostelry so as not to arouse suspicion.” 15 likes
“Like all of my important memories, it has a potency that has influenced the pocket of time that holds it, so I can remember that particular Saturday afternoon, even though in many ways it was no different from any other. I can remember, for example, what van der Glick was wearing as she stepped out of the elevator, which was a dress covered with clownish polka dots. Rainie would make these heartbreaking stabs at femininity; indeed, she still does. It's not that she doesn't possess a woman's body now, and didn't posses a girl's body then. But clothes never seemed to fit her correctly, and the more girlish they were, the worse they would hang.” 2 likes
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