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Sweetland
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Born in Buchans, Newfoundland & Labrador, Michael Crummey is an award-winning Canadian poet and writer. In fact, he began his writing career as a poet while in university. In terms of novels, Crummey has admitted that they don't come quite so easily to him, and yet he consistently wins accolades for them. Sweetland is his 4th novel. Have you read any of his other works prior to this one? Or is this the first? What are your impressions about Michael Crummey, as a writer?


Allison | 396 comments I've known about Michael Crummey for many years, and always meant to read something by him, as a friend told me he was a good writer, but it wasn't until fairly recently, maybe 3 years ago, that I actually read one of his works. It was suggested by one of my book club friends: we all read Galore and it turned out to be nothing at all as I was expecting. I actually don't know what I was expecting. I guess I was thinking it would be good, but maybe not astoundingly so.

I'm a big fan of the family saga with folklore, i.e., Allende's House of the spirits and Marquez' One hundred years of solitude. These have left lasting impressions on me. So now too Galore. What a wonderful piece of writing! I couldn't wait to read Sweetland...a completely different reading experience as it turns out. When I got to the end of this one, all I could say was "wow!" ...I am in awe. I think Crummey is incredibly gifted as a writer/storyteller. And now, I am looking forward to reading his first two novels as soon as possible.


Susan | 130 comments Oakville wrote: "Born in Buchans, Newfoundland & Labrador, Michael Crummey is an award-winning Canadian poet and writer. In fact, he began his writing career as a poet while in university. In terms of novels, Crum..."

I had not read anything by Michael Crummey before Sweetland. I will look for his earlier works now that I have. His style was his character's style - I always felt it was Moses Sweetland speaking to me. I especially appreciated the "inside joke" where he talks about badly-written books about NFLD written from those who aren't from there.


Allison | 396 comments Susan wrote: "Oakville wrote: "Born in Buchans, Newfoundland & Labrador, Michael Crummey is an award-winning Canadian poet and writer. In fact, he began his writing career as a poet while in university. In ter..."

I only vaguely remember this "inside joke" you mentioned, Susan... I read Sweetland just before it came out, which was back in the early fall. I'm planning a re-read this weekend to make it all fresh again.

Also - since you have brought up the character's style - I just came across a nice little Q&A with Michael Crummey where he is asked about the inspiration for Moses Sweetland. Crummey's reply was this: Moses was a character who kind of arrived, fully formed. The story I had in mind required a particular sort of person, of course. And there is a “type” of Newfoundland man, the old time Newfoundlander, who fit the bill. Brusque, a bit contrary, self-reliant to a fault, but emotionally soft as butter underneath the crust.

I think Sweetland's voice must have come naturally to the author from a lifetime surrounded by various Newfoundland men of this generation.

For the full Q&A see: http://news.nationalpost.com/arts/boo...


Susan (susanopl) | 472 comments Mod
I love that quotation from Michael Crummey, Allison. Moses certainly is a fully-formed character. I never once thought of him as anything but that "type" of Newfoundlander. I heard a segment with him on CBC's The Next Chapter (http://tinyurl.com/k8vqwbe) in which he talked about how he wrote the book - which was to start at the beginning and write about 500 words every day, without ever straying forward and coming back. So in a way the plot must have been fully formed before he started writing, too.

I have not read any of Michael Crummey's other books, but they are certainly on my "to read" list. I had the pleasure of seeing him talk about Galore at Burlington Public Library's "One Book, One Burlington" event last fall. I was completely charmed first by him and then by Sweetland. He has definitely been added to my list of favorite east coast authors.


Allison | 396 comments Susan wrote: "I love that quotation from Michael Crummey, Allison. Moses certainly is a fully-formed character. I never once thought of him as anything but that "type" of Newfoundlander. I heard a segment with h..."

Thanks for that nifty clip, Susan! For those interested, it's at approximately 23.5 minutes into the segment. I LOVE to hear things like this about a writer's process. I thought Sweetland was solid movie-potential stuff, and now I feel entirely validated in thinking so!!


Kate (arwen_kenobi) | 100 comments Mod
I've never come across Michael Crummey before now and I'm glad I had the opportunity. The whole place, and Moses of course, really came alive.


Allison | 396 comments Kate wrote: "I've never come across Michael Crummey before now and I'm glad I had the opportunity. The whole place, and Moses of course, really came alive."

Hi Kate, I think it's a little bit curious that many Canadian avid readers (just like you!) don't really know about this writer. Maybe it's because his novels are done years apart from each other. He's definitely underrated.


Maureen B. | 212 comments Allison wrote: "Susan wrote: "Oakville wrote: "Born in Buchans, Newfoundland & Labrador, Michael Crummey is an award-winning Canadian poet and writer. In fact, he began his writing career as a poet while in unive..."


There's so much to enjoy in this novel and I'm only halfway through.

The humour was often understated and wry. As Susan mentioned, Queenie's guilt about not enjoying the books her daughter sends and her attempts to enjoy books about Newfoundland, 'written by townies'--I could really empathize with that, being a chicklit fan.

Sweetland's observations about co-habitants of the island were acerbic and often very funny (just like spell-check's insistence here on changing his name to Sweatband!)

I love the names. Moses, often shortened to Mose, is not going to be able to save his people. Sweetland? Um, no. This place may be beautiful but it is anything but sweet. Pilgrim, whose blindness makes it so difficult to make progress, remains a loving man despite it all. Loveless, who truly is, and who Moses refers to several times as 'f***en Loveless" leaves me wondering if he means the other man, himself, or the entire island . . .


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

Maureen wrote: "Allison wrote: "Susan wrote: "Oakville wrote: "Born in Buchans, Newfoundland & Labrador, Michael Crummey is an award-winning Canadian poet and writer. In fact, he began his writing career as a poe..."

Maureen, just wait until you get into the second half. It is unputdownable!


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