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information. This chance event propels Senhor José into an epic and rationally inexplicable journey to find a woman whom he knows only by a name, a birth date and a former residence. In Saramago's deft rendering , the hunt becomes everything. Throughout the suspenseful search, Senhor José must be constantly wary of loose-lipped interviewees and the omniscient Registrar's watchful presence . All the Names is one part vivid realism , one part parable, one part mystery novel and altogether a deeply thoughtful work of literature. Saramago's inspired depiction of the clerk's mind is full of false starts, wild asides and surreal self-reflection. Senhor José grapples with a mix of chance and newfound free will in his search for identity (both his and the woman's), and this theme speaks to Saramago's great sympathy for the extraordinary hidden in the anonymous . Late in the novel a character notes, "I don't believe one can show greater respect than to weep for a stranger." Ultimately, Saramago illustrates this and other striking sentiments while exploring pervasive loneliness and the odd connections, even love, that can spring forth from it. The novel is a celebration and a lament, filled with energetic and original prose. With so much to enjoy, it would be hard to imagine anyone, from the academic to the beach reader, leaving Saramago's world disappointed. (AR) Cape Breton Road by D. R. MacDonald Harcourt, 2000, 288 pp., $23 The road of the title of this novel is a figurative one that natives of Cape Breton Island take. It is the migratory route from their provincial Canadian, Scottish-influenced home to metropolises like Toronto and Boston and back. MacDonald's nineteen-year-old hero of this novel, Innis Corbett, is one such traveler. Born in Cape Breton, he's lived since early childhood with his widowed, alcoholic mother in suburban Boston, where he's enjoyed a life of youthful indulgence —until he's caught stealing cars and deported to Canada. He is sent to live with his bachelor uncle, Starr, in rural Cape Breton with no money, no friends and no car. At the start of the novel, in a fit of irritation, he cuts down a pine tree that he later discovers was planted to memorialize a neighbor's son. The neighbor, an old man who still wears a kilt, catches Innis, invites him home, serves him chowder and tea with canned milk and, after much indirect conversation, cajoles him into clearing a path in the woods as reparation. The old Scot also gets Innis a paying job painting the summer house of a distinctly casual priest. This old Scot is said to have taibhsearachd, the Second Sight but his gift really is not that mysterious: it scarcely differs from the intuitive knowledge that everyone on the island has of everyone else's life. Uncle Starr is a man who "takes women but not wives." One such woman is Claire, a fortyish brunette who moves in with Starr and Innis when her relationship with a boyfriend sours. Much to Starr's annoyance , Innis is very attracted to Claire. Teenager that he is, Innis has trouble reading her reactions to him, though The Missouri Review · 179 she is not really any more mysterious than many women who hail from the other, metropolitan, terminus of the Cape Breton Road. Innis plans to stay in Cape Breton just a year and then move on to more wide-open western Canada. To raise money he is growing marijuana seedlings in Starr's attic and clearing a patch in the woods where he'll transplant them in the spring. His project is very secret because marijuana is quite illegal in Cape Breton. This novel is noteworthy in a number of respects. The suspense, which is considerable, accrues from a mound of the smallest details: the sounds emanating from Claire's room, the budding of the marijuana plants, the silt in the spring that feeds Starr's cabin. The depiction ofInnis, a slightly sociopathic teenager, is also remarkable —his feelings of longing, of perceived smallness and invisibility, combined with his misperceptions of how the world actually works. Lastly, there's MacDonald's geography...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 179-180
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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