Two days after finishing Michael Crummey’s Galore, I still cannot get this book out of my head. You won’t be able to either. I can’t recommend you buy this book enough. Here’s why:
I’ve been describing this novel as Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude set in Newfoundland. But this description, while evocative, fails to encompass just how grand the story truly is.
Like One Hundred Years of Solitude, Galore is not just the story of a family, it’s the story of a people. It’s not just a tale of settlers on the rocky coast of Canada (indeed, the book is ambivalent to both time and place until its latter half – it could as easily be set in Canada as Nantucket or elsewhere), it’s a tale of how families hew out lives. It’s a pleasure to watch how Crummey takes a story that is both indistinct and mythic in its time and place in its first half and then sharpens until we see the story of Paradise Deep as part of a larger narrative about the evolution of Newfoundland. Like Moby Dick, the setting is almost a character, and it holds its own against some of the most finely wrought personalities I’ve ever read. Of course, Galore also has its share of mystic realism, including, but not limited to, a ghost who falls through a ceiling, an albino mute born out of the belly of a beached whale, and masked revelers who see people’s secrets while stinking drunk. You don’t get much better than that.
Unlike One Hundred Years of Solitude, it’s the women of Galore who carry the novel. Their knowing presence and long suffering act as the story’s center, as the maypole around which the male characters dance. I haven’t read characters as well drawn as Devine’s Widow and Mary Tryphena Devine in a long time.
It’s a beautiful book y’all. I had a chance to meet Crummey a few weeks ago at the Brooklyn Book Festival and my only regret is not having read this book before so I could tell him how great it is. I’ve never been particularly compelled to write about a novel on here, but Galore is an exception. Go out and buy it. You’ll be glad you did.