The Wreckage

The Wreckage

A Novel

Book - 2005
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Having achieved considerable success with his first novel,River Thieves, Michael Crummey has written a book that is equally stunning and compelling.The Wreckageis a truly epic, yet twisted, romance that unfolds over decades and continents. It engages readers on the austere shores of Newfoundland's fishing villages and drags them across to Japanese POW camps during some of the worst events of the Second World War. Haunting, lyrical, and deeply intimate, Crummey's language fully exposes his characters' vulnerabilities as they struggle to come to terms with their guilt and regret over decisions made during their impulsive youths. In the fishing villages of Newfoundland we come across an itinerant Wish Furey. He's a drifter and a projectionist, traveling from island to island bringing films to isolated communities. A Catholic in a staunchly Protestant community, working with an alcoholic, gambling partner, Wish is immediately labeled an outsider. On Little Fogo Island, he spots a desirable young woman in the audience and embarks on an unwavering mission to possess her. Mercedes Parsons -- Sadie -- is equally infatuated and yields to Wish's advances as much as her chaste upbringing will allow. Crummey masterfully captures the ferocity of the young romance, the coiled up sexual tension exploding in instances of pure pleasure and ending often in frustration. The pair can steal only scattered moments alone as Sadie's mother puts up a formidable defense against Wish, whom she believes will bring only trouble. However intent he seems on winning Sadie, Wish's character remains mysteriously closed. He is painfully silent around her family, which only strengthens their mistrust. Crummey seems to purposefully disclose only the barest of Wish's intimate thoughts and motivations. While the romance intensifies, Crummey casts his lovers in a wider shadow. He brings to life the Newfoundland coastline, its unforgiving waters, the religious fervor and prejudice of its inhabitants, their ceaseless work, and the collective anxiety about the burgeoning war. Unable to defeat Sadie's mother, and unable to quell his conscience after Sadie's breathless pleading, "Don't make a whore of me," Wish flees to St. John's and enlists in the British army. Sadie embarks on a frantic pursuit only to find him gone. Defying her family she stays in the capital, building a new life, the reality of Wish's disappearance -- the acute, constant ache of it -- gradually settling in. Wish lands somewhere in southeast Asia and then, finally, in a Japanese POW camp. He suffers agonizing torture under a particularly cruel guard known initially as the Interpreter. We have met the Interpreter already. Crummey has woven this man's narrative through the novel, slowly revealing the origins of his unique hatred toward the Canadian prisoners. Born in British Columbia, Nishino has experienced a harsh brand of discrimination. It is through Nishino that Crummey provides a chilling example of how prejudice can breed exceptionally brutal cycles of violence. Crummey unveils the depths of his characters' personalities with slow deliberation. The layers of their pain, suffering, and love are peeled back with each recounted memory as the novel makes its transition into contemporary times. With each memory that is unleashed the reader comes closer to understanding the choices the protagonists made, the consequences they endured, and their subsequent feelings of frustration and guilt. Fifty years after Sadie's flight from St. John's, she returns to Newfoundland to scatter the ashes of her dead husband and collides with Wish whom she believed dead. Sadie reflects, "It was like being handed a photograph from a stranger's collection, one more unexpected glimpse of th
Publisher: [Toronto] : Doubleday Canada, c2005
ISBN: 9780385660600
Branch Call Number: CRU
Characteristics: 360 p


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brianreynolds Jul 16, 2015

Heavy boots. <i>Wreckage</i> is almost an understatement. And yet the writing is so smooth, the story so deliciously teasing, the characters so heart-warming and heart-wrenching that every page of it felt true. Heavy boots, indeed.

WVMLStaffPicks Jan 19, 2015

Michael Crummey is one of Canada's most inspired writers. His modern day version of Romeo and Juliet is set in the outports of Newfoundland and amongst the horrors of a Japanese P.O.W. camp. The story is a lyrical, haunting and intensely satisfying read about a young Catholic boy and Protestant girl whose love for each other refuses to fade, even when the world and all its prejudices and cruel twists of fate aim to keep them apart.

Dec 17, 2008

The intersecting storylines are engrossing and the main and even more peripheral characters are all strongly delineated. At first, I thought the ending of the book was kind of shambling and inconclusive, but then I remembered the book's title - "The Wreckage". Just as Mercedes finds something important and concrete in the literal wreckage of her old home, all of the characters are striving to find something similarly real amidst the wreckage of their respective lives. The wreckage imagery is also echoed hauntingly in Wish's experiences after the bombing of Nagasaki. The title of the book, in fact, satisfyingly encapsulates so much.

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