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Smoke [Paperback]

Elizabeth Ruth
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 20.00
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Book Description

Aug. 26 2005

In the 1950s, in the Ontario tobacco-growing community of Smoke, a young boy on the verge of manhood is scarred forever. A night out with his buddies, too much booze and a lit cigarette, and Buster McFiddie's life will never be the same. Through the process of healing, one man's voice speaks to him, softly, to ease his pain, spinning yarns of The Purple Gang, the notorious Detroit mob. It is the voice of John Gray, the town doctor, and soon it's clear that telling these tales means as much to Doc as hearing them means to Buster.

In an era of conformity, a disfigured boy tries to move his life forward, and an old man grapples desperately with his past: the convergence of two lives on the cusp will change each of them, and the small-town world that binds them, in ways they could not have imagined.

Elizabeth Ruth's second novel is a tour de force: a potent, richly inventive story of identity and transformation, of reconciliation between the way you are seen, and the truth of who you really are.

Product Details

Product Description

About the Author

Elizabeth Ruth is the author of the acclaimed first novel Ten Good Seconds of Silence. She lives in Toronto.

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Holy Smoke Dec 6 2005
By A Customer
I almost wish Smoke was the start of a series. I know that the lives of Buster and Jelly Bean will be extraordinary without being fantastical. It's so rare to find characters so richly drawn and heart felt. Ruth really lets you feel the characters, you understand their thoughts and motivations in a single paragraph. I raced through this book - anxious to see what happened next - then stretched the last 30 pages out as long as I could. I want to tell you what happens but know that would be wrong. I've already gone back over the story to read it again, look for clues, foreshadowing, and re-introduce myself to this world. WONDERFUL!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars you have got to read this book! Nov. 14 2005
This book was fantastic. Quintessential Canadian novel, with an incredible twist that makes it a very original story. I don't want to spoil it, but it's a doozee.
I found the writing in Smoke to be emotional, challenging and accessible with characters that will probably resonate in my mind for a long time to come. Looking forward to Elizabeth Ruth's next the meantime, I highly recommend reading this one.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant & Beautiful! Sept. 13 2005
By A Customer
A friend recommended this book to me just a few weeks ago. I picked it up and couldn't put it down. Really a wonderful story. Beautifully written. Interesting characters, who I already miss visiting. This was an amazing book. Definitely the best I've read in a long, long time. It's set in the 50s, in Ontario, in a town called Smoke, where tobacco crops are driving the economy. A teenager is badly burned in his bed when he passes out with a lit cigarette after a night of crazy drinking with his buddies. He strikes up a friendship with the town doctor who is treating him. The doctor has a HUGE secret, but I won't tell. Anyways, the secret, the characters, and the writing all kept me hooked. I've told a few friends, and a couple of them have bought it and they're telling me they're loving it too. cool. I hope more people come across the book.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Smoke but NO Fire Oct. 20 2005
Smoke-- but no Fire
Let me be clear: I hate trying to enjoy a piece of art and getting bombarded by dumptrucks full of flaws. Example at hand, the novel Smoke by Elizabeth Ruth. I tried, really. I wanted to like it. But then, oh then. Narration flips viewpoints for no reason. We are told the emotions the characters feel even before they can react and show us. Hackneyed word use screams from every page, coats are slipped on, hot stares fall upon necks, car door handles are cranked, songs end abruptly, legs are tightly crossed, scents waft, people worry themselves sick, sun filters down. People never walk up stairs they mount stairs, so often in fact that I was waiting for the stairs to get pregnant. Even verbs do not correlate. Three sentences in a row start: 1.) B. is wearing... 2.) He stuck a red blow... 3.) He intends to give.... Time sequencing is a mess. In one part the character goes to the school, skips school, takes a 20 mile hike, hikes back, spends a couple hours at a doctor's house, walks to a field, lays in the field for hours, and then we find it's only early afternoon. The final blow is what is probably designed to be the plot-- a boring, dull, rambling, repetitive rehasing of teen discussions and a vague question about price setting and tobacco. It's full of characters whose motivations, goals and problems are completely undeveloped and meaningless. At the halfway point I skimmed the remainder of the book. It's just bad writing. Penguin -- get a grip!
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