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Consumption Hardcover – Sep 12 2006

4.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Canada; Canadian First edition (Sept. 12 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679314377
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679314370
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 3.3 x 23.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 363 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,109,864 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this powerful first novel, a beautiful Inuit woman spends her teen years in the 1960s in a Montreal TB sanitarium, learning French and mathematics from nuns. Upon returning to her Hudson Bay hamlet to live in a government-made dwelling, Victoria feels like a stranger living in a kind of internal exile and shudders at the taste of half-rotted walrus meat. After getting pregnant by a Kablunauk (Inuktitut for white person), she marries him. Husband Robertson's ambition rankles the community to begin with, and when he accepts work from a South African mining company that wants to dig for diamonds in the frozen tundra, things come to a boiling point. Keith Balthazar, a doctor who comes to the community from New York, tends to Victoria's children in illness and gets unexpectedly entwined in the family's life. In language that is always sharp and sometimes mesmerizing, Patterson, author of a story collection and the memoir The Water in Between, seamlessly works murder, sex and intrigue into the mix and offers a terrific cast that makes arctic life, and the ties of kin, palpable. He delivers a searingly visceral message about love, loss and dislocation. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.


“It's this thematic resonance, along with an understated humanism reminiscent of Anton Chekhov (incidentally, another physician), that makes Consumption a quietly devastating novel.
The Vancouver Sun

“Some first novels simply tower above their contemporaries by the scope of their ambition and the power of their vision. Last year, it was Joseph Boyden’s Three Day Road; earlier this year it was Madeleine Thien’s Certainty, and now it’s Kevin Patterson’s Consumption.”
The Globe and Mail

“On the surface, Consumption is deceptively simple and gripping. It's the story of one woman and her family. But what a woman -- and what a family!”
The Globe and Mail

“Patterson has seen and done much where two or more world views intersect. It makes him a peculiarly well-informed and insightful guide to the conflicts within the coastal Inuit community of Rankin Inlet in the Canadian Arctic, the primary setting of Consumption…”
The Globe and Mail

“the people in Kevin Patterson's gripping new novel of the North, Consumption, are defiantly human. They are complicated, passionate, troubled, confused and, in some cases, doomed -- by disease, by their own failings and by those of their loves ones and by economic and cultural forces beyond their control.”
The Winnipeg Free Press

Consumption launches a major voice in Canadian fiction”
The Winnipeg Free Press

Praise for Country of Cold:

“[Patterson] . . . has made the leap to fiction with startling grace”
The Georgia Straight

“A masterful debut short-story collection. . . . The stories are rich in event . . . but it’s in characterizations that Patterson shines, capturing shades of ambiguity, uncertainty and small happiness with a deft touch.”
The Vancouver Sun

Country of Cold is a terrific book. Kevin Patterson writes frequently about misfits and loners, but he presents them with such hard-edged clarity and insight that it’s impossible not to think of these people as kin. And whether it’s slapstick hilarity in a prairie Dairy Queen or the dead-serious menace of a winter storm north of the treeline, the writing is always pitch perfect.”
–Michael Crummey, author of River Thieves and The Wreckage

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is a superb read! This is an unmistakably Canadian experience (interestingly with a few reflective American personages). The characters are rich, the landscape is vast, the relationships are moving, and the consumption is raw. For days after I finished the book, I marvelled at how well this piece was delivered. As a Canadian, I feel I have gained slightly more insight into the mysterious North (and more importantly a longing to learn more).

As a physician, I must say one appreciates the sublime but authentic descriptions that span the novel. Of course, the essays in the final section - almost a black-and-white version of the novel - are some of the best I have read. With his abilities, sensibilities and experiences he offers a unique and accurate description of the major health issues of our time.

Dr. Patterson is fondly remembered by those that knew him during his training days here in Halifax. No doubt, he will be appreciated by a great many more for his growing contribution to Canadian literature.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a Yank, I haven't read a whole lot of Canadian novelists, but I have dabbled somewhat. Robertson Davies (Deptford Trilogy -- superb), Margaret Atwood, David Bergen (The Time in Between -- very good!), Hugh MacLennan, Miriam Toews...

Kevin Patterson's Consumption is by far my favorite. Effective both sociologically and psychologically in dealing with the effects of different kinds of consumption patterns (material, medicinal, metaphysical) and with a mysterious death to boot, the book achieves what all great novels do: intertwining personal stories, tragic and triumphant, with nothing less than global implications -- and dramatic suspense to keep you all the more engaged.

Two frustrating boreal mysteries face this American: Why the book hasn't been celebrated more, and where the hell is Dr Patterson's next novel?
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Consumption is a fantastic read. It draws you in from the start and leaves you thinking about the story and the characters long after you are done reading it. I'm hoping to read a sequel or perhaps a prequel to this beautiful, captivating story.
It's not only interesting and thought provoking but it comes across real. It makes you think of the author and you can't help to conclude he is not only a wonderful writer but must be an amazing physician too. A good listener and observer.
There is something to like about all the characters and you find yourself rooting for them all to find happiness, balance.
The depiction of the challenges faced by the North come through clearly and as someone who worked there myself, I not only found the read helpful especially at the beginning of my days up North, but I remember thinking of Victoria as the building shook on the morning of a blizzard day. It felt as if I remembered a friend... a local friend. I think Dr Patterson is not only a very talented writer and great physician but would make a great instructor. His description of the most common diseases faced by the South and now the North too are so well explained, one does not need to be in healthcare to understand what he is talking about. I can't recommend this book enough. Personally, I think of Penny the most. And the bit written on latency...must touch every heart.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Being a physician in a fairly geographically isolated community in Northern Saskatchewan, I was struck by how much I connected with this novel. For me it really captures the themes I wrestle with on a daily basis in my work - the federally funded "Reserve" type health system, the impact of colonialism on local economics, the questions of what a "better life" really means, the impact of chronic disease on health in communities, the role of mental health in overall holistic well being.

I was particularly impressed with the short essays following the novel. The themes of these essays resonated with me completely and I think reflect the realities of being a physician in a tight-knit setting with limited access to resources - often working at the edge of your comfort level and occasionally beyond your competence level, wanting to capture the scope of patients' health stories, but feeling at a loss in reflecting the whole truth, feeling like an outsider and an insider all at the same time.

Overall, much enjoyed and a fairly easy read...
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