Some Great Thing

by Colin Mcadam
ISBN: 1551926954

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A Review of: Some Great Thing
by W.P.Kinsella

Some Great Thing is an ambitious novel. Two men live parallel lives until they eventually intersect. Jerry McGuinty is a working-class young man with grand dreams and the smarts to bring them to fruition. It is the 1970s and Ottawa is having a building boom, and Jerry becomes successful and wealthy by building quality houses. His difficulties stem from meeting and marrying a spirited Irish caterer named Kathleen Herlihy, who proves to be rancorous and even at a young age has an inordinate thirst for whiskey. They have a son, Jerry Jr., and the final third of the book is about Jerry Sr. trying to reconnect with Jerry Jr. who has taken to the streets at 14 after years of mistreatment by his alcoholic mother, something that Jerry Sr. tended to overlook while he was building his empire. The second man is Simon Struthers. He is from old money, a career civil servant, a small time lothario, corrupt, smarmy, a voyeur and a stalker. But this is Jerry McGuinty's book and Simon is totally unlikable, and consequently his romantic and business intrigues are not very interesting. Simon finds himself in a position of power, controlling land primed for development, and after stringing Jerry along for years, creates a project he hopes will be his legacy while damaging Jerry financially. The novel is for the most part successful because of the strong portrayals of Jerry Sr. and Kathleen, although the Hemingway-like dialogue, running for pages without identifying the speaker, is occasionally confusing, and the whole book could have been edited down by at least 50 pages. Still, it is an excellent first effort from a very promising writer.

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