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Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  1,056 ratings  ·  236 reviews
February in Newfoundland is the longest month of the year.

Another blizzard is threatening to tear a strip off downtown St. Johns, while inside The Hazel restaurant a storm system of sex, betrayal, addiction, and hurt is breaking overhead. Iris, a young hostess from around the bay, is forced to pull a double despite resolving to avoid the charming chef and his wealthy
Paperback, 440 pages
Published February 12th 2019 by House of Anansi Press
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Average rating 3.67  · 
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 ·  1,056 ratings  ·  236 reviews

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David Yoon
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
The epigraph reads "This might hurt a little - be brave."
Lord thunderin' Jesus there is dark stuff ahead rendered in some of the most compelling prose I've read from this year's Giller shortlist. Jaw-dropping at times. It's Valentines Day at the Hazel in downtown St. John's Newfoundland and no one is getting out unscathed. It's a bleak #MeToo novel, examining toxic masculinity, an enabling culture, and little in the way of a clear or even hopeful path through.

Megan Gail Coles is unflinching,
Enid Wray
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
The publisher blurb refers to this, among other things, as biting, and funny. Biting, yes. Funny, no, not in the least. There is terrible trauma - brutality - here, and my heart bleeds for the lives of Olive and Iris Olive in particular.

But the narration keeps the reader at such a distance that I am never drawn into the story. Indeed it is only after an horrific event - nearing page 300 - that I really connect with any of the characters and begin to really connect with the story... and the
Dec 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is not infatuation.
This is small game hunting at the local coward gun club. And what is worse, as every stroke of recognition is finally delivered hard against Iris's hurt timepiece, is that all was lost the moment she opened the door and let him step across the threshold. He wanted her less from there.

As a sort of trigger warning, author Megan Gail Coles prefaces Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club with a page stating in full: This might hurt a little. Be brave. (And this
Darryl Suite
Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
VICIOUS. ANGRY. INTENSE. BRUTAL. HORRIFIC. AND VERY, VERY DARK. The epigraph said "This might hurt a little. Be brave." No, this hurt A LOT. (I'll come back with more but as of right now, I need a moment). My head is spinning.
Apr 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An absolutely brilliant and powerful read. I often had to stop mid-page so I could fully appreciate the depth of the author's understanding, compassion and empathy for her characters. A distinct writing style that takes some time to get used to but is so distinct and authentic, funny at times and turns the world around on its head. I can't wait to read it again. It is so satisfying to discover a new and talented Canadian writer with a unique voice.
Mar 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 5000-2020, mar-20
Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club, by Megan Gail Coles, is a finalist in Canada Reads 2020.
The warning at the beginning of the book holds true 'This might hurt a little. Be Brave'.
This novel takes place over one day, Valentines Day, in urban Newfoundland during a brutal blizzard.
It tells the story of numerous characters at a local restaurant - The Hazel. Daunting at the beginning trying to follow along, but once I got them straight the story started to flow, darkly very darkly.
Penny (Literary Hoarders)
I'm shelving into my DNF folder. I don't have the time or patience to continue. The list of books to read is far and wide and long. I strongly feel the Giller will/should go to Crummey.
Orla Hegarty
Jul 07, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: sentbynlpl
I am tossing this at 100 pages. Lots of shallowly developed characters. Alienating (all over the place?) writing style. Not my cup of tea.
If you know me on Goodreads at all, I've kept it no secret how much I absolutely hate when authors don't use quotation marks in their dialogue. It can throw off the entire flow of a book for me, I don't understand what the appeal is (for an writer or a reader), and I just am not a fan. So, when I say now that Small Game Hunting, it turns out, is the only book wherein the author chose not use quotations and I didn't even mind it all... that should be a pretty good indicator of how much I adored ...more
Mar 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
It took me a while to finish this and to be frank there are moments the plotting lagged. But in the end I did find the writing and story quite riveting. Coles has a long career ahead of her and looking forward to more great books from her in the future.
Feb 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Well this was a ride.

Coles is INTENSE and intelligent and pointed. She's angry at times, and you can taste it in her writing. The first 150 pages were tough-going. If it weren't for making the Canada Reads 2020 shortlist, I definitely would have given up on this book.

But there's this scene mid-way that no one I know can look away from. A horrific scene but described so astutely, so intelligently, that I kept on reading just to eat up the words. At that point in the book I was convinced that
Debbie Bateman
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I enjoy many books, but only a few register at a deep enough level to change me as a human. This is one of those. It is a wonder of a book, full of magic. I adore the fluidity of Megan Gail Coles' style, how she moves from external to internal, personal to collective, dialogue to action with no need for signposts. All that nonsense about show don't tell and other rules writers tell themselves... is all of it a mistake? I wonder. This book feels like life itself feels and she had me from the ...more
❀ Susan G
Wow! What a book! I am glad that I persevered and will be pondering this story and the eclectic group of characters for a while. I had to read the first 35 pages 3 times and did struggle through the dense prose but it was worth the challenging read.

After hearing Megan Gail Coles speak at the Canada Reads kick off, I could hear her voice as I read the story. Her writing is amazing, readers can picture the characters who are all connected in unfortunate ways.

After reading a number of books with a
Feb 14, 2020 rated it it was ok
In Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club, its February and it's snowing heavily. Youre trapped inside The Hazel - a small restaurant in St. Johns, Newfoundland.  Everyone from the owner to the serving staff are keeping secrets from one another and over time, have become tangled up in each others lives.  As the day progresses, the temperature will rise and tensions will boil over.

Im sorry, but this book was way too long.

The length is my biggest complaint and the main reason I had the
K.R. Wilson
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Megan Gail Coless Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club is literally stunning: at one point I just sat there stunned for a bit, letting what Id read settle. Its one-day main narrative is far from the whole story, as Coles takes us deeply into the lives and minds of her characters, exposing the wrenching traumas, pointless regrets, self-serving rationalizations and inextinguishable flickers of hope that have brought them all together. Its a novel of place, of perceptions, of insightful ...more
Anne Logan
Nov 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Long title, long book. Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles may scare off people for a few different reasons, one of them being the warning issued at the beginning:

This might hurt a little. Be brave.

But those who are brave will be rewarded. I wont say I was one of the brave ones, I HAD to read this book because Im defending it for the Giller Light Party next Monday, but Im glad I did anyway because it was a worthwhile read. Not an altogether pleasant read, but a
This is small game hunting at the local cowards club, p156
romanticism is for the emotionally crippled, sexually confused, and teenagers. p26

It's Valentines day and in Newfoundland the energy of the snowstorm is swirling around the Hazel restaurant, which is trying its best to provide service, despite the meltdown amongst the staff and management.

Bad behaviours don't just miraculously disappear. They are but rearranged. p345
On days when there is no change in illumination, people accidentally
Natasha Penney
Feb 08, 2020 rated it liked it
This is such a hard book for me to rate. I knew from the opening chapter that the author has a God-given gift with the written word. Her writing in this book is brutal, devastating, sharp, acerbic and gut-wrenchingly honest. Therein lies the problem for me with the rating. As previously mentioned I knew I was reading a superbly crafted book written my a masterful storyteller. But the story itself? It was brutal, searing and a pitch perfect deconstruction of the misogyny that runs rampant though ...more
Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow. This is the kind of book that makes me want re-look at all my other 5 star reads and see if they really measure up. Coles doesn't just put these characters on the page for us to consume - she flays them for us down to their innermost parts and in turn flays us as the reader. At first you think the people you're meeting are just unlikable - and a lot of them are - but they're also incredibly human and they carry the seeds of all of us inside them. You can tell they're all on a trajectory to ...more
Mar 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
I liked the story of this book and thought the writing was beautiful. However, I found it hard to follow. It was done without quotation marks (a personal pet peeve), and there were no chapter breaks. The story just flowed from character to character. The characters were fleshed out, and believable, but the structure made me feel that I was missing something.
Feb 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Im not sure yet if 4 stars(likely 3.5) is my actual rating. I have a lot of thoughts and feelings to work over first. ...more
Oct 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is not for everyone. It is dark, depressing, brutal but also skilled and powerful. The structure is difficult at first but keep going because the harrowing content is cleverly written and the story with its severely flawed characters will stay with you for a long time.

Madeline Nixon
Mar 15, 2020 rated it did not like it
This book is hard to read and not because of the not at the beginning that says the content is difficult to grapple with. And sure, it is, but it would have been so much more effective with less one dimensional characters floating around, less flowery sentences, and probably 100 less pages. The book was slow and confusing at times and the writing kept you at a distance. I could never fully connect or really care about anyone. I wanted to love this but Im just really disappointed. ...more
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book was hard to read. I had to make sure I felt mentally prepared every time I picked it up. It was a really heavy, brutal read.

The novel revolves around two seriously downtrodden women, but the story also weaves in the stories of dozens of characters (I don't actually know if it's dozens, but it feels like it), and they all get a chance to speak. I feel like Coles was aiming to show that no action exists in a vacuum, that every action is connected to something far greater than it. This
Dec 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Best book Ive read all year. An all encompassing look at what it means to live in St Johns right now, and an especially powerfully examination of the rampant toxic masculinity inherent to Newfoundland. Finally, a full examination of the misery it is to live here. I didnt expect to like this book and instead, I love it. Im not sure it would even be comprehensible to anyone that doesnt live in St Johns or Newfoundland. At times, the affected dialect of the narrator is grating, and Ill admit that ...more
Apr 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
I loved Megan's use of tension and suspense in this book. You knew shit was going to hit the fan. People were at each other's throats, making bad choices, testing the boundaries of each other's restraint and then it comes to a head, the way you anticipate it will.
The character development in this book was tremendous.
I'll be thinking about this book for a while, especially that ending. It's going to linger with me for a while.
Maria Zuppardi
Apr 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
Read my full review on my blog,ReadingMaria.

This was definitely a hard book to get into. I just didnt connect with the writing style, and it wasnt my cup of tea to be honest. The ending though is totally worth it, and Im happy I stuck with this book.
Feb 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
The main action of Megan Gail Coles debut novel takes place in St. Johns, NFLD, on a single dayFebruary 14, Valentines Dayas a blizzard threatens the city. The setting is a fashionable downtown restaurant called the Hazel, which caters to a varied clientele: politicians, snobbish business types, couples willing to splurge on a special-occasion dinner. The characters are restaurant staff and patrons, their relatives, friends and acquaintances. The setting may seem commonplace, even familiar, and ...more
Mar 30, 2020 rated it liked it
When a book begins with a trigger warning (This might hurt a little. Be brave.) you just KNOW you are in for a challenge.

I will admit that I would have never picked up this book if it hadn't been selected for Canada Reads. I knew it was a Giller finalist for 2019 and I deliberately decided NOT to read it at that time. But when it hit the Canada Reads short list, I decided it was clearly an important book and I should at least give it a go. And "give it a go" I did. It took me almost 4 weeks to
Feb 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club, a book for the #metoo movement, takes place in St. Johns Newfoundland. Set over the course of one long day with a blizzard setting in, we hear from staff and acquaintances of the resturaunt The Hazel.

Narrated by a large cast of characters, Coles seeks to illustrate the ways in which a capitalist society sets you up for either success of failure. When you have a rich dad he can buy you a restaurant to run, nepotism at its finest. When you have drug
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Megan Coles is a graduate of Memorial University of Newfoundland and the National Theatre School of Canada. She is co-founder and co-artistic director of Poverty Cove Theatre Company. Megan is currently working on a trilogy of plays examining resource exploitation in Newfoundland and Labrador titled Falling Trees, Building Houses and Wasting Paper. She is a member of the Writers' Alliance of ...more

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