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Incidents in the Life of Markus Paul Paperback – Jan 15 2013

4.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor Canada (Jan. 15 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385666543
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385666541
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 2.1 x 20.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #206,223 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“David Adams Richards’ 14th novel brilliantly scours the conscience of a community. . . . [He] moves deftly between the multiple voices and points of view . . . [and] never fails to capture the right details to a scene. . . . That Richards can consistently bring such potentially mawkish figures to vivid life is just one reason to keep reading him.”
Quill & Quire (starred review)
“In a stark, stunning and profound new novel, New Brunswick’s David Adams Richards (Mercy Among the Children, Nights Below Station Street) exposes Canada’s rawest nerve. . . . the construction of this novel is brilliantly conceived, and flawlessly executed. This is Richards at the height of his powers, which is very high indeed. The word masterpiece is not too strong.”
National Post (Donna Bailey Nurse)

“. . . the searing emotion and stirring probity we have come to expect of an author fighting to stave off anachronism’s claim to right and wrong, good and evil. . . . the characters themselves, who could have been frozen into moral archetypes . . . attain a welcome level of complexity. . . . Richards’s larger picture includes a moral lesson at once topical and timeless.”
The Globe and Mail

About the Author

DAVID ADAMS RICHARDS' most recent novel, The Lost Highway, was nominated for the Governor General's Award for Fiction and the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2008. The Friends of Meager Fortune won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best Book (Canada and the Caribbean). His novel River of the Brokenhearted received immense critical acclaim. Mercy Among the Children won the 2000 Giller Prize and was nominated for the Governor General's Award and the Trillium Award. He is the author of the celebrated Miramichi trilogy: Nights Below Station Street, winner of the Governor General's Award; Evening Snow Will Bring Such Peace, winner of the Canadian Authors Association Award; and For Those Who Hunt the Wounded Down.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
David Adams Richards is one of those novelists who seems to keep writing the same novel over and over. It seems, though, that this is because he is trying to get it better every time, rather than because he can't come up with good ideas. Richards wrestles with old ideas in his book and considers how they apply to the world as it is and to people as they are. This book is based around the tragic death of a native at a shipyard, which appears to be suspicious. The local reserve, the press and others in the community all try to use the event to their own ends, which most tragically results in a lack of interest in the truth. These people are never caricatures, though, and that's where Richards' experience as a writer really shines through. Ultimately these are all human beings, trying to live what seems to be a good life, in the world as it really is.
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Format: Hardcover
Richards' novel begins with the death of Hector, a young First Nations man, working his first labour job on a ship. He is saving to go to med school. Initially, it is suspected that Roger Savage, a white man, accidentally caused the death. Very quickly, however, people suspect that Roger - a more experienced labourer, angry that an Indian got the job over him - intentionally killed Hector. Richards weaves a plot where the reserve's chief is sceptical of Roger's culpability and loses the respect of his people, who realize this white man will not be charged. Here we see how the death of one man becomes a symbol of treaty and land disputes, leadership and control, media exploitation, and the power of rumour and innuendo.

Richards presents a few ideas to consider about power dynamics. The first significant theme is that identifying a person of privilege is difficult. Racial disputes between whites and First Nations people drive the book. People from both groups are victims and both are perpetrators of abuse. The story Richards presents is that anyone with power can manipulate people. This book is full of tragedy. Much of the tragedy begins with people thinking they are doing the right thing as they fight for change. Instead, villainy escalates to create new villains. A second theme that Richards presents is that it is important for privileged people to stand alongside the weak; there is not a clear formula for doing so, however. Even identifying who is weak - who deserves the support of the privileged - is complex and Richards shows that the consequences of misidentification can be dire. It is possible for a powerful but just person to become a tyrant without even knowing it.

As a "social justice Christian" and Maritimer, I found Richards' book to be a sobering warning.
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Format: Hardcover
Living in Scotland, I got homesick for Maritime Canada and went to Blackwell’s to see if they had any books by David Adams Richards. They had one, in the crime section, Incidents in the Life of Markus Paul. I mentioned it should have been in literature. “No, it’s in our system as murder mystery,” the clerk said.

In a sense, Incidents is a murder mystery, a genre the author says he never intended when setting out to write it. The premise appears simple: an effete First Nations boy in Miramachi, New Brunswick gets a union card and starts work loading lumber in the hold of a Dutch ship. He dies on his first day of work, crushed by a load of poorly-hooked wood. Or so it seems. The narrator offers clues and possibilities indicating that something is wrong with this analysis. These indicators punctuate a story revolving around the man who becomes the primary suspect, the people who wish to see him condemned, and the people who believe he’s innocent.

Welcome to the world of one Canada’s greatest storytellers. David Adams Richards, now with a stockpile of awards and several film adaptations, has been writing about the lives of so-called ordinary people in rural New Brunswick for four decades. His novels comprise polished-up social realism with elements of morality plays. The tone is Biblical in places, folksy in others, luminously descriptive, and perennially compelling. The people and places are raw and real, and the author employs the Maritime vernacular, habitually for dialogue, occasionally for narration and description. On trial is human corruption. Doing the right thing seems easy, so why is it so rare?

I’m a fan of David Adams Richards because I admire his story telling and find his tales relatable.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
On a warm June day in 1985 a young First Nation man dies in the hold of a pulp cargo ship: dropped logs have crushed Hector Penniac and buried him. It was his first day on the job; his pay was to be used for his medical studies so that he could become a doctor and return to his reserve. Accident or murder? Who is to blame, if anybody? This query weaves through the narrative and turns out to have more components than anybody wants to deal with, then or later, whether the police, the First Nation Band Council or the members of the community. While some reserve residents instantly designate a culprit, a white man and neighbour, others like the Band Chief, Amos Paul, or the police investigation attempt to establish the evidence before coming to conclusions. Both sides attract support for their position; the media gets involved too... in fact, the tragic incident opens up something between a can of worms and a Pandora's Box where old enmities, power struggles, control over land and fishing rights come to the fore, integrity and loyalties are challenged and the search for truth is anything but straight forward. David Adams Richards, award winning Canadian author of many books, has created a complex and totally absorbing tale of a troubled community at the crossroad, peopled with believable and memorable characters, depicted sympathetically in all their innocent or flawed individualities. Richards's intimate familiarity with the region - the Miramichie in northern New Brunswick - adds great authenticity and richness to the novel.

Seen to a large extent through the eyes of Markus Paul, a fifteen-year old at the time of the events and the Chief's grandson, Richards weaves the narrative between different time lines, from 1985 to 2006.
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