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A Tourist's Guide to Glengarry [Paperback]

Ian McGillis
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Nov. 15 2002

This book is a tribute to a real neighbourhood at a special point in time -- working class north Edmonton on the cusp of the oil boom. McGillis has drawn partly on figures from his own late 60s, early 70s childhood, including a maverick substitute teacher with a predilection for Eastern philosophy, a nine-year-old champion of civil rights, a chain-smoking ten-year-old son of anti-war radicals and baseball immortal Roberto Clemente.


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From Amazon

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.

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

Review

` ``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)

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
There's this thing I do every morning, at least every morning since I've been sleeping on the bottom bunk of the bunk-bed, with my brother Duncan on top. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Excerpt | Back Cover
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, smart, and observant July 8 2003
By A Customer
I rarely read books about kids, and enjoy them even more rarely. But this one came highly recommended by my (adult) daughter, so I had to read it - and couldn't put it down. If you like Garrison Keillor, you'd love Ian McGillis : for his sharp eye, his hilarious yet down-to-earth prose, his intimate knowledge of and intimate relationship with a working-class suburb of Edmonton where he grew up.
But if you hate Garrison Keillor, you'd love Ian McGillis anyway, for his prose is more light-hearted and structured, that is, much easier and more entertaining to read.
Every baby boomer would instantly recognize those fabulous times when CCR were at the peak of their fame, when Black Sabbath and Jethro Tull were still a novelty (McGillis writes about them all), when a dime bought you a set of baseball cards, and when school violence was unheard of - so kids were freer to discover themselves, the world around them, and their place in it. Yet Glengarry is not your average North American suburb: it's in Alberta, so many characters bear East European, often Ukrainian names, and are colorful in their own unique ways waiting to be discovered by the reader. A truly delightful book!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars AMAZING Book Nov. 24 2010
By R.M. Horowitz - Published on Amazon.com
The best piece of Canadian literature I have ever read. Was told to read first chapter over a weekend for school and read the whole thing. The character development is on par with Salinger and the plot is cunningly brilliant. READ THIS BOOK.
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, smart, and observant July 8 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
I rarely read books about kids, and enjoy them even more rarely. But this one came highly recommended by my (adult) daughter, so I had to read it - and couldn't put it down. If you like Garrison Keillor, you'd love Ian McGillis : for his sharp eye, his hilarious yet down-to-earth prose, his intimate knowledge of and intimate relationship with a working-class suburb of Edmonton where he grew up.
But if you hate Garrison Keillor, you'd love Ian McGillis anyway, for his prose is more light-hearted and structured, that is, much easier and more entertaining to read.
Every baby boomer would instantly recognize those fabulous times when CCR were at the peak of their fame, when Black Sabbath and Jethro Tull were still a novelty (McGillis writes about them all), when a dime bought you a set of baseball cards, and when school violence was unheard of - so kids were freer to discover themselves, the world around them, and their place in it. Yet Glengarry is not your average North American suburb: it's in Alberta, so many characters bear East European, often Ukrainian names, and are colorful in their own unique ways waiting to be discovered by the reader. A truly delightful book!
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