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Theatre of Fish
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An extraordinary journey across the magnificent, delinquent coast of Newfoundland and Labrador.
John Gimlette's journey across this harsh and awesome landscape, the eastern extreme of the Americas, broadly mirrors that of Dr Eliot Curwen, his great-grandfather, who spent a summer there as a doctor in 1893, and who was witness to some of the most beautiful ice and cruelest poverty in the British Empire. Using Curwen's extraordinarily frank journal, John Gimlette revisits the places his great-grandfather encountered and along the way explores his own links with this harsh, often brutal, land.
At the heart of the book however, are the "outporters," the present-day inhabitants of these shores. Descended from last-hope Irishmen, outlaws, navy deserters and fishermen from Jersey and Dorset, these outporters are a warm, salty, witty and exuberant breed. They often speak with the accent and idioms of the original colonists, sometimes Shakespearean, sometimes just plain impenetrable. Theirs is a bizarre story; of houses (or "saltboxes") that can be dragged across land or floated over the sea; of eating habits inherited from seventeenth-century sailors (salt beef, rum pease-pudding and molasses; ) of Labradorians sealed in ice from October to June; of fishing villages that produced a diva to sing with Verdi; and of their own illicit, impromptu dramatics, the Mummers.
This part-history-part-travelogue exploration of Newfoundland and Labrador's coast and culture by a well-established travel writer is a glorious read to be enjoyed by both armchair tourist, and anyone contemplating a visit to Canada's far-eastern shores.
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About the Author

John Gimlette is a well-established travel writer, having won the Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize and the Wanderlust Travel Writing Award. He writes regularly for a number of broadsheets. His first book, At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig: Travels Through Paraguay, was published in 2003 to massive critical acclaim. When not probing the extreme corners of the Earth he practices as a barrister in London.

Reviews

"Newfoundlers themselves must be God's gift to travel writers. In John Gimlette's frothy treatment, the island is absolutely teeming with impossibly colorful characters spouting nonstop entertainment . . . Gimlette is laugh-out-loud funny." -The New York Times Book Review "John Gimlette is attracted to bizarre places and writes about them with often withering irony [and] surrealist panache. . . . An absurd and entertaining book." -National Geographic "Oddly compelling. . . . The reward is the feast of stories gathered from taverns and ferry rides and old journals: drownings, battles with 'Esquimaux' greenhorns challenging an unforgiving wilderness, folks who still use dogsleds because in tough times, 'You can't eat a snowmobile.'" -The Washington Post "Terrific stuff. . . . A dazzlingly multifaceted portrait of the region. . . . A hugely entertaining book in which the interest never flags. . . . As a descriptive writer, a master of the telling observation and the well-chosen epithet, [Gimlette] is in the highest class." -The Daily Telegraph Newfoundlers themselves must be God s gift to travel writers. In John Gimlette s frothy treatment, the island is absolutely teeming with impossibly colorful characters spouting nonstop entertainment . . . Gimlette is laugh-out-loud funny. The New York Times Book Review John Gimlette is attracted to bizarre places and writes about them with often withering irony [and] surrealist panache. . . . An absurd and entertaining book. National Geographic Oddly compelling. . . . The reward is the feast of stories gathered from taverns and ferry rides and old journals: drownings, battles with Esquimaux greenhorns challenging an unforgiving wilderness, folks who still use dogsleds because in tough times, You can't eat a snowmobile. The Washington Post Terrific stuff. . . . A dazzlingly multifaceted portrait of the region. . . . A hugely entertaining book in which the interest never flags. . . . As a descriptive writer, a master of the telling observation and the well-chosen epithet, [Gimlette] is in the highest class. The Daily Telegraph" Praise for John Gimlette: "Theatre of Fish is peopled with odd characters, both historical and very much alive, who make walk-on appearances in a book rich with bizarre incident and anecdotes." -Sarah Hampson, "Globe and Mail" "Must reading for anyone who wants to understand Canada's last province." -Yvonne Crittenden, "The Toronto Sun" "But as a descriptive writer, a master of the telling observation and the well-chosen epithet, he is in the highest class." -Max Davidson, "The Daily Telegraph"

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