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McGillis's graceful touch is the mysterious factor that makes A Tourist's Guide to Glengarry such enchanting reading. He always knows just how far to push his narrative: never too cute or too cloying, never didactic in its engagement with politics and sociology, and charming enough to lure even a hardened W.C. Fields admirer into the world of its boy hero. The western provinces have lately proven to be fertile ground for this sort of book--Grant Buday's A Sack of Teeth and Don Dickinson's excellent Robbiestime spring to mind. A Tourist's Guide to Glengarry is the most benign of these novels, but it's also the most memorable. Don't miss it. --Jack Illingworth
` ``Weird'' and ``neat'' are neutral adjectives, but they betray something fundamental about Neil. Together they describe a sense of wonder, which often goes understated, and a certain ambivalence, the root of which is tolerance. With these two words, McGillis keeps himself and his readers on track, and in a genre which too often cedes artistic integrity to cliché, he refrains from playing the judgement card like a phony.'(Andrew Steinmetz Books in Canada)
`Neil McDonald is the most eloquent nine-year-old you've ever heard. He's the narrator of Ian McGillis's captivating first novel, A Tourist's Guide to Glengarry and he's had quite a rough day -- encounters with drugs, booze, petty crime, teenage Italian girls, the threat of expulsion from school, enraged nuns, Black Sabbath, and puppy love are only a few of his worries. Set in 1971 Edmonton, a milieu that offers an uneasy blend of the cosmopolitan and the parochial, A Tourist's Guide to Glengarry offers a guileless account of young Neil's adventures, which involve a rapid-fire series of surprises, belly laughs, and kidney punches.'(amazon.ca)
`Yann Martel loves A Tourist's Guide to Glengarry. In his cover blurb, the Booker-winning novelist compares it to the work of J. D. Salinger and Mark Twain. Martel's invocation of these particular giants is not just a generous response to a good book. It aptly reflects Ian McGillis's particular knack: piercing the armoured adult's heart with the green arrow of a child's.
`Following an especially challenging day in the Edmonton suburb of Glengarry, nine-year-old Neil McDonald is urged by an eccentric teacher to record, as a writing exercise, everything that has happened to him since he tumbled from bed that morning. He does, and his singular diary forms the body of this debut, a dispatch from a mind still capable of wonder, yet sprouting tiny shoots of wisdom.
`Neil's prose cuts a finer line than you might expect, even from an exceptional nine-year-old. This small stretch ensures the book's success. Before you can figure out quite what McGillis is up to, what buttons he's pushing, he's suddenly refiring a host of dormant neurons. The results are sad and exhilarating at the same time -- sadness for time's march, exhilaration for such rare expression. It feels like learning all over again how to see the world and us in it -- how to share, to err, to rue and to move on.'(Jim Bartley Globe and Mail)
`A Tourist's Guide to Glengarry may do for Glengarry what Mark Twain, Margaret Mitchell, or William Faulkner did for the South.'(Barry Hammond Legacy)