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The Resource The Englishman's boy, Guy Vanderhaeghe

The Englishman's boy, Guy Vanderhaeghe

Label
The Englishman's boy
Title
The Englishman's boy
Statement of responsibility
Guy Vanderhaeghe
Title variation
Englishmans boy
Creator
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Member of
Storyline
Writing style
Award
  • Governor General's Literary Award for English-Language Fiction, 19996.
  • Saskatchewan Book Awards, Book of the Year Award, 1996.
  • Saskatchewan Book Awards, Fiction Award, 1996.
Review
  • Having won the Governor General's Award in Canada, this novel comes garlanded with praise, and it's easy to see what the fuss is about. Vanderhaeghe (Man Descending) has a strong narrative sense and a muscular, urgent style. The novel's premise is a good one: a renegade Canadian cowboy, involved in an 1873 Indian massacre as a teenager, 50 years later becomes Shorty McAdoo, a grizzled bit player in pioneer Hollywood, where he catches the imagination of a movie mogul who wants to build an inspiring Western around him--a movie that will deliberately ignore McAdoo's dark secret, which has filled his life with dour guilt. The book proceeds along two tracks. One tells the story of how Shorty became involved with a posse chasing some Indian horse thieves up into Canadian territory, and the grim vengeance that was enacted. The other chronicles the later doings in Hollywood, as told by young screenwriter Harry Vincent. In both stories there is a crisis of conscience; both are driven by ruthless central figures; and there are ironies aplenty. But the tale of the old West is infinitely more gripping and real than the '20s Hollywood material, which is overfamiliar (and in any case sounds echoes of Nathanael West's much more powerful Day of the Locust). The posse leader Hardwick is a figure of genuine menace, but Damon Ira Chance, who runs Harry's studio and sends him off to get Shorty's story, is more elusive, an improbable recluse who goes off into erudite, quasi-Fascist rants about the iron American spirit and the power of the movies. The final confrontation at the premiere of McAdoo's film seems inevitable only in a fictional way; it's nothing like the fierce terror of the massacre and its aftermath. Then, too, the novel is framed by two chapters of facile Indian mysticism that seem foreign to the rest of the tale. Vanderhaeghe is a fine writer, and his work is often fresh and surprising; but on this occasion, all the elements do not quite cohere as they should have. (Sept.)
  • In alternating chapters, two narratives--one set in the American West, the other in Twenties Hollywood--gradually unfold and intersect. The Western saga centers around a boy who, after his English employer succumbs to a fever, attaches himself to a band of wolvers making their perilous way through hostile Indian territory into Canada. Fifty years later, in Hollywood, Saskatchewan native Harry Vincent is taken in hand by Rachel Gold, a so-called "new woman," as a scenarist for a studio headed by the mysterious and elusive Damon Ira Chance. Chance dreams of producing an epic Western in the tradition of his hero, D.W. Griffith, that will stand as a landmark of cinematic history. To this end, he hires Vincent to track down an old-timer whose story he is sure will lend itself to his purpose. This winner of the Governor General's award for fiction, Canada's top literary prize, has a sweeping scope and an evocative sense of time and place. We have Ludlum's spy stories, Grisham's legal thrillers, and Patrick O'Brian's sea tales, but on the quality literary front so dominated by fiction written by and appealing to women, it is a rare pleasure to be able to recommend one for the boys.--Barbara Love, Kingston P.L., Ontario
  • An ambitious novel, set along the US-Canadian border and in Hollywood, that won for its author (Homesick, 1990, etc.) Canada's prestigious Governor General's Award. The story consists of parallel narratives, the first taking place in 1873 when a band of "wolfers" (wolf-hunters) camped in the northern Montana Territory lose their horses to a furtive Indian raiding party. A determined posse pursues the thieves northward into Saskatchewan, where a terrible vengeance is exacted. Among those avengers are the mysterious title character, a stoical drifter who will become both the victim and nemesis of the men with whom he has cast his lot, and Shorty McAdoo, a Scotsman who will forever after be burdened by his failure to act as the "civilized man" he believed he was. The second narrative, set in 1923, recounts in his own words the ordeal undergone by Harry Vincent, a crippled journalist employed by playboy moviemaker Damon Ira Chance, a self-described "visionary" who longs to film an "epic western" incarnating his conviction that "the spirit of the age would express itself in an endless train of images." Harry seeks out Shorty McAdoo's story, not realizing that Chance will betray his ostensible vision, and that he will also unknowingly betray the aged, guilt-ridden McAdoo. The two stories intersect in a melodramatic climax that, unfortunately, drains the novel of much of the integrity given it by Vanderhaeghe's sharply imagined confrontation scenes and salty dialogue. The novel has a lot on its mind, and few readers will leave it unfinished, but there's a paradoxical problem at its core: As gripping as the manhunt story is, its characters remain frustratingly opaque (even the haunting figure of the Englishman's boy only awkwardly inhabits the narrative); and, despite Vanderhaeghe's persuasive characterization of the appealing Harry, the story he's part of feels inchoate and derivative. Two good half-novels here, but they don't come together as a whole. (Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 1997)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
007422
Cataloging source
DLC
http://library.link/vocab/creatorDate
1951-
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Vanderhaeghe, Guy
Illustrations
maps
Index
no index present
Literary form
fiction
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
Series statement
Western trilogy
Series volume
0001
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Hollywood (Los Angeles, Calif.)
  • Canada, Western
Label
The Englishman's boy, Guy Vanderhaeghe
Instantiates
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
304612
Dimensions
25 cm
Edition
First Picador USA edition.
Extent
333 pages
Isbn
9780312168230
Lccn
97015518
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
Other physical details
map
System control number
  • (Sirsi) i9780312168230
  • (Sirsi) ABO-3094
Label
The Englishman's boy, Guy Vanderhaeghe
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
304612
Dimensions
25 cm
Edition
First Picador USA edition.
Extent
333 pages
Isbn
9780312168230
Lccn
97015518
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
Other physical details
map
System control number
  • (Sirsi) i9780312168230
  • (Sirsi) ABO-3094

Library Locations

    • Central LibraryBorrow it
      710 W. Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX, 78701, US
      30.2713021 -97.7460168
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