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Nikolski Paperback – Feb 10 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Canada; Reprint edition (Feb. 10 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0676978800
  • ISBN-13: 978-0676978803
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.2 x 2.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #63,953 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Rosie on April 20 2010
Format: Paperback
I was initially drawn into this novel - in the beginning, the characters were developed as quirky, compelling people and I was very interested to see what would happen to them, and what their connections all meant. However, it felt as though the author, at the end, either lost interest or could not decide himself what should happen or what it all meant, or perhaps he felt that the "loose ends" could simply be left and still provide meaning to a reader. Unfortunately, they do not. As a reader, the "loose ends" provided neither meaning or "nuance" but only disappointing flatness and disengagement.

What we are left with in the end is just meaninglessness [SPOILERS BELOW]- all of the characters are left in unclear, unresolved situations less interesting than the ones they started in, there are significant gaps and unanswered questions, and absolutely no ties between the characters are explained or drawn out. The novel does not end on a note that creates wonder or imagination - it ends almost on a note of boredom. For example, why create such an interesting, complex character in Joyce and then fail to tell us anything about her motivations for her actions in the last half of the book, what she's done, and why she is going where she is? She starts out as a beautiful, complex young person but ends up being treated as a flat blank. Also, why would Joyce not report the body she found? If she did not, it's incredibly disturbing and bizarre, and distracts from everything we know or could wonder about her. Similarly, Noah starts out as a complex, confused but engaged character and ends up being portrayed oddly dispassionate. What happened to Arizna, her business and why does she demonstrate no love or affection for her son or son's father? And, the Nikolski compass just falls down a vent - and that's it?

It honestly just felt like I had wasted my time caring or bothering with the story.
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By A S on Sept. 18 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Excellent writing style and carefully placed symbols allowed me to draw on more connections than I had time for. An excellent read!
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Wendy Barker on Jan. 8 2010
Format: Paperback
Maybe this book will grow on me. It may just be quirky enough to win Canada Reads but I can't say I'll put it as one of my favourites. The following comments contain spoilers so read no further if you haven't read the book.

The title refers to a small town (village or hamlet may be more appropriate) on an island in the Aleutian peninsula. It was the site of one of the Distance Early Warning (DEW) line outposts established during the Cold War. It's the place where Noah's father, Jonas Doucet, ended his travels. Jonas is also the father of the part-time narrator of the story. And Jonas is probably Joyce Doucet's uncle or cousin. Noah, Joyce and the narrator come together in Montreal in the 1990's. The narrator has always lived in Montreal but Noah was raised on the prairies with his peripatetic mother driving an old car and trailer from place to place. Joyce grew up on the island of Tete-a-la-Baleine but ran away from the island to discover what happened to her mother. She wants to be a pirate like her ancestors but she settles for working in a fish shop in Montreal to pay her rent until she gets the pirate gig going. Noah has come to attend university (never mind that he has never gone to school -- that's just an insignificant detail I guess) and he intends to study archeology. He ends up sharing rooms above the fish shop with one of the owners. The narrator is a clerk in a used book store in the same neighbourhood. Their paths cross all the time but the three never seem to discover their shared origins.

Noah is the first of the trio to leave Montreal. He goes to live with his lover, Arizna, on a small island off Venezuela and help care for their son, Simon.
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By Reader Writer Runner TOP 50 REVIEWER on May 30 2011
Format: Paperback
Pirates. Trash. Fish. Destiny. Maps. A village, 'inhabited by thirty-six people, five thousand sheep and an indeterminate number of dogs.' What Nikolski lacks in plot, it certainly makes up for in uniqueness of theme and setting. Throughout the novel, the three protagonists remain ignorant of their biological connection but are inexorably linked by nomadism and idiosyncratic obsessions. Noah, an archaeology student, Joyce, a fish-store clerk and an unnamed used bookstore employee all emerge from far-fetched, dysfunctional childhoods as rootless adults living in Montreal. Dickner's characters lack depth and develop little; his saving grace is a whimsical, quirky style that ultimately produces a mostly enjoyable read.
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