- Prizes and Awards: Amazon.ca/Books in Canada First Novel Award Shortlist 2002
Heave Paperback – Dec 3 2002
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2002 Amazon.ca/Books in Canada First Novel Award Shortlist: The title of Christy Ann Conlin's first novel, Heave, is an apt one. The narrative lurches and tosses like a poor sleeper, and the protagonist, a 21-year-old alcoholic Nova Scotian named Seraphina Sullivan, does a great deal of vomiting in the opening chapters of the book. This isn't a bad thing--Conlin's graphic attention to the details of drunkenness is essential to her anatomy of the terrors of being a lost, youthful drunk. If her novel doesn't have the depth or grandeur of Under the Volcano or The Iceman Cometh, its clarity and ability to see beyond the bottom of the bottle give it something that those works lack.
The opening of Heave is also its ending: Seraphina tearing off her clothes and bolting from her own wedding, running to her parents' rural home, and taking shelter in one of her father's restored antique outhouses (her family is a memorable and eccentric one). Seraphina's memories occupy the rest of the book: she takes us back to her troubled but not entirely unhappy childhood, her recent three-week bender in London, England, and her time spent in Canadian rehab clinics and psychiatric institutions. Conlin is a satisfyingly vivid writer with a gift for characterization that few of her generation can equal, and she paints an unforgettable portrait of the people of Nova Scotia. Unfortunately, she is not nearly so capable of dealing with humour in her fiction; much of Heave tries to be funny, but the comedy is nearly always sunk by the gravity of Seraphina's psychology. Nevertheless, this is a polished and substantial debut, a rare first novel that is about people, not characters. --Jack Illingworth --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“This is a wildly energetic debut, alive with characters so vivid they very nearly eclipse one of the tenderest, truest depictions of Nova Scotia life and landscape I think I’ve ever read.” -- Lynn Coady
“Some books, such as thing debut novel…should arrive with the kind of abe that come on cigarette packs: WARNING: Excess of Talent, Visceral Reation May Ensue. Conlin…has produced an extraordinary book…that won’t soon be forgotten.” -- Toronto Star
“Conlin proves herself a keen observer of family life, adept at teasing out the loose ends and following them to uncover the lumps and knots in the fabric.” -- Hamilton Spectator
“Fresh as a Sea Breeze” -- Vancouver Sun
“Highly visual and visceral prose” “Right from the first line Heave is a crazy ride” -- Halifax Daily News
“One book I will not be passing on is Nova Scotian writer Christy Ann Conlin’s marvellous first novel Heave. This book prompted a whelp of excitement from me. “ -- Noah Richler, National Post
“Heave is simply a marvellous book.” “Heave is a powerful book”. “Conlin’s style is precise, the intensity often startling. She writes with a truthfulness that is passionate.” -- Michelle Berry, Globe and Mail
From the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Like most early novels, this one seems to have more than a touch of autobiography. Apart from the truthfulness of the setting, Conlin has really got to the heart of the depression and aloneness of the young who stand somewhat apart from the mores and values of theur family. The tensions within family, where there is often unstated, but overwhelming love which somehow just isn't adequately communicated, was painful, raw, and honest.
A growing-up story by a young writer who is a real talent. Melancholy (as I find much Canadian literature to be) but ultimately a book of hope.
The ending, however, much like the beginning, is unsatisfying. The last ten pages or so feel rushed and so much happens so quickly that it is disappointing to get so far only to have so much fall apart with what it seems to be a mad dash to the finish, leaving as much emotional carnage in its wake as possible.
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