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Archives 2020 > Small Game Hunting At the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Cole - spoilers included

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message 2: by Allison (new)

Allison | 2267 comments Well it ain't an easy one!

I'm now past half way on this book. The first 150 pages were HARD going for me. Now I have the rhythm and and invested in the characters and the story. The writing is so sharp, so acute, so pointed and exact. There is one scene with Olive -- you'll know it when you read it -- that I couldn't look away from because of the way the author so insanely precisely addresses every nuance. That scene was horrifying, but at the same time so very well narrated by the author. For me, this was the moment when she really gained all my respect as an author.

But it was along road through the start of the book for me to get there. If it weren't for Canada Reads, I definitely would have given up on this one, unfortunately.


message 3: by Joanna (new)

Joanna (joanna_g) | 33 comments I know exactly what scene you're talking about, Allison, and yet it also made me horrified but unable to stop and was an amazing section of writing. And then when it did end, I actually had to put down the book for a bit and tell myself to breathe. I don't know that I've ever read a book before where I could feel that the author was furious. It was an entirely new experience for me.

I agree it wasn't easy - there were so many sentences and passages I had to read and reread to understand what was happening, and I did find some of the inside of section viewpoint switches hard to follow, but overall I really loved it. It felt true, and honest and so well drawn. I could see bits of myself in all of the characters - even the really horrible ones had some part of the way that they were described where I thought I could understand how they were feeling or acting.

So far (I'm currently at 4/5 read), it's my favorite. Or best maybe? Favorite is tough because I don't know that I enjoyed it all that much even though I think it's an extraordinary piece of literature.


message 4: by Allison (new)

Allison | 2267 comments You’re so right, Joanna, that in that scene you could feel how furious the author was. It wasn’t overt or loud — but she was strong and furious and like no other book, I felt it too. Great description. Wild writing in that section for sure.


message 5: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lisafriel) | 239 comments This book was not for me. I finished it so I would know what they are talking about in the debates, but that is the only reason.


message 6: by Connie (new)

Connie Paradowski | 55 comments Just finished this book so what you are reading are not considered opinions but gut reactions.

I have visited Newfoundland three times and worked with Newfoundlander for several years and I think she got the feel of this place spot on. The quickness of speech, the dialect, and the realness, the rawness of this place, and the people.

I liked how she could make me care about the people she wrote about, and being carried along on a wave of emotion I was powerless to avoid.

Ultimately this ability to make me care was its downfall. I am not enjoying this feeling of hopelessness and anger.

No I do not believe every book needs to leave me happy. I also do not feel anger is going to improve any situation and I can not help but feel that angry is what this author feels and strives to create in us.

In conclusion I am in awe at this women's writing and dismayed at the message.

Alison and Joanna put it much better than I could but this book made me need to be heard.

Can't wait to hear the debates.


message 7: by ❀ Susan (new)

❀ Susan G (susanayearofbooksblogcom) | 4277 comments Mod
Wow! What a book! The debates are sure to be interesting when discussing this 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 Newfoundland setting, I am in dire need of a happier book set in this province!


message 8: by Mj (last edited Feb 24, 2020 09:42AM) (new)

Mj | 1195 comments @ Susan G - For a happier book with a Newfoundland setting, I’d recommend The Agony of Bun O'Keefe by Heather Smith. It’s a YA book not something I often read but I just loved this book. Read it for the Newfoundland category in the 2019 Cross Country Challenge. It’s filled with very quirky characters, all fascinating. It is both a fun and difficult read, suitable for 10 to 100+ years of age. It was 1 of only 4 books that I rated 5 stars last year. Even if you don’t love the book, it’s a short read worth trying and I'm confident that some parts will really make you smile and feel warm inside. The story covers a broad cross-section of critical issues as well, so there is lots to learn but the author tells the story in an amazingly uplifting manner. Bun, the book’s primary character is top-notch and not soon to be forgotten.


message 9: by ❀ Susan (new)

❀ Susan G (susanayearofbooksblogcom) | 4277 comments Mod
Thanks MJ! I will check into that one to see if they have it at the library.


message 10: by Anne (new)

Anne (artemis91) | 43 comments I'm 65% of the way through -- partway through Olive's scene. I was desperate to read this book as so many of the reviews, while not revealing anything, spoke of how the book was like a train careening forward on its tracks, and as you read, you felt it pick up speed and knowing it was speeding towards a precipice, but you didn't know what it was. I feel that. This book makes me upset, and angry, and frustrated, and helpless, but I can't stop either.

I keep trying to think of what it brings into focus. Any ideas? Some top thoughts of mine: violence against women (and I feel like this could dovetail in with the state of the economy too, and how women often are more affected), rural communities and their struggles, Newfoundland and its struggles, rural vs urban, rich vs poor, haves vs have-nots... its a bit of a potpourri of issues, and I'd love to hear other people's thoughts.


message 11: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 315 comments I finished this book about a week ago and I was quite drawn to the story. The author, love her writing and how she grabs onto her audience. Like some of you have said, the story was almost like a train wreck about to happen and it’s difficult to look away. In terms of how this relates to the theme of Canada Reads this year, I felt a common thread of disconnect from parents/family. Is this a leading factor, largely responsible for the downfall of ones life? When one has a connection to their family, what ever that family may look like, do they come out the other side of a catastrophe with few scrapes and bruises? Or at least scrapes and bruises that heal and don’t maim the psyche. Do we, as a technologically heightened society, need to put focus on nurturing the family unit?


message 12: by Joanna (new)

Joanna (joanna_g) | 33 comments Interesting, Sarah, I didn't really get that from it at all, about the family. I don't know that nurturing family units would address many issues of the characters here. I forget her name, but the wife of the chef (Georgina?) seemed to have, if anything, an over-involved family. And there's (view spoiler). Also, sometimes, it's your family that may be the cause of some of one's scrapes and bruises, which I think was somewhat the case for both Iris and Olive.

I think there is definitely a larger lesson about people not understanding or disconnecting from each other, generally, and therefore not supporting or caring one another. There's obviously one scene that sticks in my memory vividly, but another one that does is when the older obnoxious dude is in the restaurant, and his narration and Iris's just reveal the fundamental depth of misunderstandings between them.


message 13: by Sarah (last edited Mar 07, 2020 10:53AM) (new)

Sarah | 315 comments There are so many nooks and crannies in this story that I’m sure I’d pull more from it on second reading. Exactly right @Joanne, I think we’re talking the same talk, maybe I didn’t explain my thoughts as clearly as I’d hoped. Yes, George had few scrapes and bruises, it appeared, to speak of...possibly due to an involved family? Even her failed first marriage didn’t seem to leave emotional scars (if I’m remembering correctly!?) nor her crumbling second marriage. Whereas, Iris and Olive came from very broken and bruised family units and their lives seemed to be in disarray. At end scene (view spoiler). This is just one thread that struck me in Megan Gail Cole’s story. And she has provided the reader with so much more to discuss.


message 14: by Anne (last edited Mar 04, 2020 11:36AM) (new)

Anne (artemis91) | 43 comments @Sarah - you might want to put a spoiler screen over the last bit on your last post like what Joanna did in her's before you.

I finished this book last night and I think this book is going to leave me reeling for a while. I can't say enough good about it without also listing all the bad that happens within it.

This book made me literally feel like I was standing at the window of the Hazel, or maybe a corner table, and unable to look away as all these characters entered my life, and their pasts were painfully, and plainly laid out in front of me, and then be unable to look away as the tension between them is built moment by moment, and faster and faster, giving the impression of explosive charges ricocheting around a room. And all you can do is watch and wait for two to collide and set them all off.

As for what it brings to focus: violence against women is a top contender, and how the economy can drive violence against women -- the men who were laid off and their "party", but in the inverse (not discussed in the book), "man camps" and their tendency to increase violence in local areas as well.

Toxic masculinity was also brought to the forefront by this book. There is so much discussion about what makes a man -- "getting the smell of the house off" on weekends by going on benders, what makes a man, a man in terms of behaviours, a lack of willingness for the men to even try to understand the women in their life, all the various posturing by the men in the book, it goes on and on, and ties back into violence against women.


message 15: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 315 comments @Anne and anyone I spoiled it for “my apologies!”. I was so caught up in remembering the story and the discussion that I forgot about spoilers 😬. My bad!


message 16: by Anne (last edited Mar 05, 2020 08:31AM) (new)

Anne (artemis91) | 43 comments @Sarah I had finished the book, so all good from me :) It certainly was a big ending..


message 17: by ❀ Susan (new)

❀ Susan G (susanayearofbooksblogcom) | 4277 comments Mod
Now that you mention the ending... what did you think about it? i could feel it coming but was so hopeful...


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