- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Vintage Canada (April 10 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0679314288
- ISBN-13: 978-0679314288
- Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2 x 20.3 cm
- Shipping Weight: 249 g
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #931,240 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Inside Paperback – Apr 10 2007
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Winner of the Winterset Award.
Named a best book of the year by The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Ottawa Citizen, Talking Books (CBC Radio), Canwest News Service, Ottawa Xpress, National Post, Amazon.ca and Quill & Quire.
"Why had I never heard of this phenomenal Newfoundland writer? . . . What can be done about this ignorance? Nothing, save to shout Harvey's name from the rooftops and tell you to buy this book. Inside is MARVELLOUS, STRANGE, BEAUTIFUL, SAD . . . always utterly potent. There is no other writer like him, Canadian or otherwise."
–The Globe and Mail
"Compassionate, endlessly inventive and daring, [Inside] is manifestly the work of a major writer, and one who single-handedly shifts our literary centre of gravity to the east."
"Inside is the kind of novel that brings temporary life back to such clichés as 'gripping' and 'page-turner' . . . . There is no small irony in the fact that the emotionally blunted Myrden will probably stand as one of the more vivid and full-blooded characters of all the Canadian novels being published this year."
"Newfoundland writer Kenneth J. Harvey's latest novel Inside is a potent, at times punishing, prose masterstroke. It further cements Harvey's renown as one of Canada's most dynamic and daring writers. . . . Inside is a visceral, muscular and timely tale."
"Powerful and tragic. . . . A well-crafted tale of a man struggling to find redemption."
–The Works (UK)
"Inside is a gripping, moving story, and a strong follow-up to Harvey's The Town That Forgot How To Breathe, and Shack, a short story collection. . . . A great book and a real achievement."
—The Telegram (St. John's)
"There is an insistent, angry edge here that is unsettling and yet exhilarating, perhaps because we have all felt it. Inside feels like 12 rounds in the ring. Readers will emerge battered, but somehow invigorated."
—Quill & Quire
"A tough, unrelenting novel, thrilling and darkly eloquent and, in the end, a celebration of what life offers in even the harshest of circumstances."
—John Banville, Booker Prize-winning author of The Sea
"Edgy, redemptive and utterly compelling."
—Sandra Martin, Elle Canada
Praise for Shack: Short Stories (2004):
"Kenneth J. Harvey’s star is rising. . . . His writing is so darkly, massively powerful that it will likely sweep all his potential competitors away with inexorable, tidal force."
—The Globe and Mail
Praise for The Town That Forgot How to Breathe (2003):
"An eerie and gripping story, the work of an extravagantly haunted imagination."
—J.M. Coetzee, Nobel Prize-winning author of Disgrace
About the Author
Kenneth J. Harvey’s books are published in the US, the UK, Russia, Germany, Italy, Sweden, the Netherlands, France and Japan. His novel The Town That Forgot How to Breathe (Raincoast) garnered raves and will appear this fall in the US from St. Martin’s Press. In Canada, it won the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award. Harvey’s works have also been nominated for the Books in Canada First Novel Award and the Commonwealth Writers Prize. He lives with his family in a Newfoundland outport.
From the Hardcover edition.
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This book is about a man, Myrden,who is released from prison serving 14 years when his innocence was discovered.
We see things through his eyes as he leaves the prison, only to be taken back to the life he had before, which, in a sense, is a form of prison, which is why he is still inside.
Reconnecting with his old life is both difficult and painful His wife is liv9ng eith another man. His kids are in trouble and the one glimmer, his granddaughter, is kept at arm's length because of how he is seen.
He finally gets a large settlement for the wrongul conviction. He reconnects, in a stumbling kind of way, with an old love. He tries to begin a new life with this money and with his new found love, but his old life keeps pulling him back.
A pivotal scene is when he buys a new home for his daughter and granddaughter and returns home from a vacation to find that the man she lives with could not accept what he sees as Myrden's charity and so he destroys the house.
I will stop with the plot here since I don't want to give anything away, and the book does leave things somewhat open.
The book is marvellously written in what I would call an updated version of a Hemingway style with short sentences evoking great imagery. We get to see most things through Myrden's eyes, so the one thing we don't get to see is our hero.
In some ways the book can be seen as a downer. But it is so well done that it still leaves the reader up.
Mryden is a man caught between slipping into old habits and a fresh start and as a reader I felt compelled to root for him to make it on the outside. The scenes where Mryden and his wife are signing off for his compensation are beautifully painful. Harvey's clipped prose is appropriate for Mryden and his story but will not be appreciated by all readers.
Kenneth J. Harvey has always been on the outside of the Canadian Literature scene and while 'Inside' should bring him to the attention of a wider readership I hope he stays on the outside where characters like Mryden reside.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
In his novel, "Inside," Kenneth J. Harvey places himself in the mind of just such a character, Myrden (a man whose first name is never revealed), and does it so effectively that many of those questions are answered. Harvey, in fact, tells Myrden's story largely through the man's own thought processes, a technique that leaves the reader standing squarely in Myrden's shoes, seeing life through his eyes, and feeling all of his emotions and frustrations. The book, in fact, is almost completely written in sentence fragments of less than five words and reading it is like listening to Myrden think out loud.
Myrden is the first to admit that he was not exactly an innocent man when he was sent to prison for murder. At times he is not completely sure, despite the new DNA evidence, that he did not commit the crime and wonders if the real mistake is that he is being released. But he is grateful for the large settlement he receives from the government and is eager to use it to better the lives of his daughter and his granddaughter, Caroline, the true love of his life.
Sadly, Myrden, a man who has learned the trick of depending only upon himself for survival, finds it near impossible to relate to a wife who seems only to care about the cash windfall headed their way, his old crowd, or the poverty that surrounds them all. Wanting nothing more than to be left alone, he is forced instead to deal with the newspaper reporters who hound him for a quote and old friends who see him as a local celebrity with cash to blow. His immersion into the hard world from which he had been snatched and imprisoned, a world in which he is surrounded by reckless people with little to lose, the only world he has ever known, is inevitable despite his best intentions.
Myrden is a man who wants nothing more than to make life a little easier for those he loves, his way of making up for past mistakes before it is too late. He has some small successes but, when others begin to interfere with his larger goals, he has to decide how far he is willing to go to put things right and whether or not he is prepared to suffer the consequences.
"Inside" explores a world that, thankfully, few of Harvey's readers will have experienced firsthand. It is a brutal place filled with people who have lost all hope that things will ever be better for them and their families, a place dominated by addictions and those willing to do most anything to feed them, a world in which second chances do not often turn out well. This is not a pretty novel but it is well worth the effort.
After training himself to exist only on the interior, to react to nothing, it is all but impossible for Myrden to relate to an exterior terrain. To face the family, the friends, the strangers who gather at his wife's house, all waiting to see what he will do next, when rage temper will escape reason and erupt. To face his children's resentment, all raised in penury, victimhood and violence. This is his legacy, the only ray of light Caroline's sweet face, her child's voice calling, "Poppy! Poppy!" Only this little girl softens his heart, offering hope he dare not entertain. These faces are familiar, genetically embedded with failure: "They were heart-mangled. It was their family legacy." Emptiness of home and spirit, broken homes and shattered dreams, "poverty with five hundred channels".
Is it possible to be a hero in such a place? Myrden knows only the sound of fist on flesh, generation to generation, the innocent trapped in a self-fulfilling cycle. Thrust from prison into the same dysfunctional environment, nothing has changed but time and the steely self-control necessary to survive. His eyes on the prize, seven-year-old Caroline, Myrden desires only to provide for her and his daughter, Jackie, to offer a future from the spoils of wrongful imprisonment. Unfortunately, Caroline's father, the venal Willis Grom, stands in the way. As Myrden's internal pressure builds, Willis' brutality toward his family escalates, ending finally in the predictable. But what of the man so recently released from one horror to another, confined by circumstance and lack of opportunity, his settlement a temporary palliative greedily consumed by a faithless wife?
In spare sentences that land like blows to the heart, compassion bred out of Myrden since a nightmarish childhood, Harvey dissects the dark side of humanity that some will recognize, others not. Painful, brutal and honest, not for the faint of heart. Luan Gaines/2007.
Half of "Inside" is style. I'm emulating here. The other half is a portrait. A portrait of man, Myrden, making a transition. He's trapped between the "inside" of prison and his experiences on the outside. He's trapped by his own "inside."
This is stripped-down stuff. At times, I was worn out reading. So many stops and starts.
"Fourteen years you get past those plans. You lose your plans. People make plans for you. You become almost nothing. Nothing to no one. People forget about you. You forget. You disappear. Up at eight. Lights out eleven-thirty."
"The police. The police officers. The welfare office. The woman behind the desk. Why are you here? What can we do for you? Is employment not an option? She wanted the information. She asked the questions. But she couldn't have cared less."
"Inside" reads like daubs of paint in furious brush strokes. The style breaks many alleged "rules" about writing. There is no formula at work here. Harvey writes what he sees, hears and feels on behalf of Myrden. It's blunt.
I enjoyed seeing the rules broken or at least tortured. Harvey tests our patience, but that unsettled feeling gnaws at you the same way it's probably chewing up Myrden as he struggles to find an even keel on the outside. The ending is rough, bleak. I'm not giving anything away. With no rainbows at the outset, I certainly didn't expect anything but darkness at the end. Worth reading for style alone.