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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 of Cape Breton. The novel is thoroughly transporting, even though it takes place in a setting that we don't think of as exotic. Only in the short summer does Cape Breton have an ordinary beauty; the rest of the year it has an elemental grandeur—rainstorms, frozen bogs, deceptive seas, an evergreen forest whose incidental sounds carry for miles in the winter air—and the author describes it vividly. The human geography is just as curious. The natives are reclusive, repressed yet somewhat lawless, steeped in Gaelic traditions that have grown contorted in their long isolation from the homeland. MacDonald 's Cape Breton is reminiscent of Russell Banks' New England, but MacDonald's writing is more careful, as might be expected given his long career as a prize-winning short-story writer and teacher of writing. This is his first novel* It's the sort of story that keeps going long after you put the book down, nervous about what you're overlooking in your breezy life. GS) From Our House by Lee Martin Dutton, 2000, 208 pp., $21.95 In From Our House, the follow-up to his 1996 story collection, The Least You Need to Know, Martin works to make sense of a stormy southern Illinois boyhood and his angry farmer father. The boy remembered in these pages is sensitive, articulate and self-scrutinizing, the sort who grows to be a writer. Martin takes full advantage of the opportunities provided by the memoir genre, and the result is a fine book, rich in narrative artistry but also in plain-spoken wisdom and compassion. Martin begins with what he considers the adumbrative moment in his life: the year Lee was to turn two, his father lostboth hands in a corn picker. "I know that all our lives began to curve and change that day in the cornfield," Martin writes, "when the shucking box on the picker clogged, and my father tried to clear it without first shutting off the tractor." The accident exaggerated for Lee and his father, Roy, the estrangement that can occur naturally between fathers and sons. Martin writes, "The moment in the cornfield . . . determined years and years of anger between my father and me." 180 · The Missouri Review Roy Martin had been concerned with his wife's health and the health of the baby when Mrs. Martin found herself pregnant with their only child, Lee, at forty-five. The accident, less than two years later, compounded his worry. How would he provide? The elder Martin retreated into years of sullenness, punctuated by fits of rage, often directed at young Lee. After the accident, doctors in St. Louis equipped Martin's father with metal hooks fastened to the stumps at the ends of his arms. Martin the writer makes the hooks a powerful symbol of his father's rage (in one riveting scene his father shoves the pincers of a hook into the crotch of the school principal who fired Martin 's mother, a teacher) as well as of the struggle the man had to connect to those he loved ("It was impossible for me to snuggle in close to him because of his hooks"). Martin recounts with awful clarity the sound the hooks...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 180-181
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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