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Deloume Road [Deckle Edge] [Hardcover]

Matthew Hooton
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 9 2010
From a breathtakingly talented new writer: a beautifully written, gripping novel that weaves storytelling magic, life, love, and tragedy into the beauty of the Canadian landscape.

Deloume Road takes us into a hot August month on Vancouver Island during the first Gulf War, to a small rural community where the children's lives play out unchangingly in the woods and secret places - until they discover an object from the past that will come to haunt them all. Slowly we discover how intertwined are the lives of recent comers with long established neighbours: a Ukrainian butcher who yearns for his wife and small son left behind - and learns something disturbing; a widowed Korean girl who fears for the life of the baby she is carrying; a Native artist whose pilot son has crashed in the wilderness… And behind them all, the shadow of Gerard Deloume, whose suicide in 1899 set off a sequence of events that erupt a century later with violent, tragic consequences.

Matthew Hooton, with lovely skill, and an assured voice, creates an indelible sense of a small community along a country road and the ties that bind us, celebrating the differences and connections between the Korean language and English, between losing a loved one to war and pulling the trigger, about summer and the first rain….

Product Details

Product Description

Quill & Quire

Told in more than 100 chapters and written from the perspectives of 12 characters across three timelines, Matthew Hooton’s debut novel, Deloume Road, is nothing if not ambitious. Unfortunately, despite smooth prose that evokes a rural Vancouver Island community in a lush, sensual manner, the story suffers from underdeveloped characters, twee stylistic transitions, and credulity-straining plot twists.

Ten-year-old Matthew divides his time between hanging out with best friend Josh and babysitting his mentally challenged little brother, Andy. The boys shun impoverished Miles, who lives in a trailer at the junkyard, terrorized by his abusive dad. When Miles disappears, wheels are set in motion for a tragedy in which all four children are implicated.

Other plot strands abound. A friendship develops between two neighbours: Irene, a pregnant and recently widowed Korean immigrant, and Al, a First Nations painter struggling to forget his Korean War experiences and worried about his own missing son, a pilot in the first Gulf War whose plane has gone down. Irene, whose soldier husband recently died in the Persian Gulf, fears her baby may be stillborn.

Hooton can craft lovely sentences, but virtually every short chapter ends with some eloquent encapsulation – of an aspect of nature or a revelation of one of the boys’ thought processes – a habit that quickly becomes precious. Deloume Road addresses big themes of birth and death, secrets and shame, but in ways neither refreshing nor inspired. Hooton’s explorations of the intersection of language and identity, addressed through the subplot featuring Al and Irene, are much more interesting.

The characters and their conflicts stir emotions – simple ones. Depending upon their general inclinations, readers will either wonder at golden boy Matthew and pity his rattily dressed foil Miles, or vice versa. Other prominent players, like an unnamed butcher who harbours the runaway Miles, are little more than archetypes driven by obvious motivations. By the end, the one person we predict will face disaster does, and everyone else’s problems are resolved in ways so clearly calculated to warm readers’ hearts that some may find themselves smacking their foreheads in disbelief.



"Vibrating with mystery and magic."
The Vancouver Sun

"A tremendously intimate experience… Deloume Road reveals a careful, artful polish."
Times Colonist

"Intriguing… Hooton's writing is effortless and evocative."
Edmonton Journal

"Flawlessly and spellbindingly [written]… Deloume may be too wild to tame, but Deloume Road must find its way onto your nightstand."

"A novel with real, haunting power."
The Guardian

"A delicate meditation on the cyclical nature of history, and the strength of communities."
The Observer

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful prose from a strong new Canadian voice Feb. 11 2010
By Luanne Ollivier #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Deloume Road marks the debut of Matthew Hooton, one of Random House Canada's 2010 New Faces of Fiction - "devoted to bringing spectacular first time Canadian writers to readers.

Hooten sets the stage for his novel with beautifully lyrical descriptions. I could feel the heat and taste the dust of Deloume Road. The rural road is home to a loose collection of houses on Vancouver Island.

" This is the end of the road, but if you turn around, it's the beginning."

We meet an unknown narrator who hints at something dark from the past.

"I want to explain and show you the place as I saw it then. Before it happened." And later - " I didn't mean for it to happen. We were just kids."

We quickly meet the inhabitants of Deloume Road. I did have to backtrack a few times in the beginning just to make sure I had all the relationships straight. Also interspersed are journal excerpts from Gerard Deloume, who tried to tame the wilderness in 1899 - and then killed himself. His death reaches into the next century, with tragic results.

The island is a separate world from the mainland and Deloume Road is yet another smaller microcosm.

"What was it about arriving on the island, about passing over water from Vancouver, leaving the continent behind? Felt like he was heading towards the edge of the world."

Hooten's skill with imagery is impressive. The mind set and emotions of a newly widowed and pregnant Korean immigrant are especially moving. Some of the secondary characters, such as the two young girls, felt extraneous. The story begins slowly but the pace quickens as the events of that August move towards their inexorable conclusion. Indeed, I found myself not wanting to turn pages as the ending grew near, knowing what was to happen.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning debut novel Feb. 10 2010
Matthew Hooton's Deloume Road is a masterclass in poetic prose with beautifully imagined characters who inhabit a subtle and intriguingly interwoven plot which draws the reader deep into the texture of their lives. The landscape, with Deloume Road itself at the centre, infuses the story with its own personality, adding a rich subtext to the themes of friendship, innocence, love, loss and betrayal.

This is a wonderful first novel from a writer of deft skill that leaves this reader in no doubt that Matthew Hooton has a long and illustrious literary career ahead of him.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars haunting and beautiful March 4 2010
I loved reading Deloume Road. So many moments where I felt like being there. Takes you right into the woods of Vancouver Island. Also great flashbacks to being a 10 year old. Intellectually challenging as well. I love how the different story threads are weaved together. Haunting, beautiful, poetic, rich in detail, many layers. A great read!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I wanted to be there! Feb. 15 2010
I could hardly put the book down as so much forshadowing anticipated a piognant interaction between the characters.The poetic descriptions of the environment juxtaposed with the preocupations of the characters kept me hungry to be there for the conclusion. However the ending was anything but anticipated. The shock of realizing that none of the characters fully understood what happened - only the reader had access to the thoughts and motivations described through the book - left me desperately wanting to get into the story and tell everyone what really happened, although understanding they didn't really want to know. I felt like God, knowing the thoughts and motivations of men, desperately wanting to engage them, but no one dares to listen. Thank-you Matthew!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great New Novel Feb. 17 2010
Deloume Road is an excellent debut from an exciting new Canadian author published by Knopf. Hooton has (seemingly without effort) created an ensemble novel in the tradition of Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, Haruf's Plainsong, and Hodgins Broken Ground. The narrative moves easily from character to character and through time, creating suspense and painting a gorgeous picture of the ecosystems of rural Vancouver Island. Thread in flashbacks of the Korean War, a bush pilot's crash landing, and the day to day lives of the road's children, and this is, quite simply, one hell of a good read.
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