Book: February by Lisa Moore (NEW 2010)
Sometimes I am amazed at how close my reading edges to my life and world events. February, a beautifully lyrical book released in February 2010, bumped up against current events with its retelling of an accident on an oil rig .
In the news as I read the book, an oil rig collapsed in April 2010 and the ensuing leak currently threatens the life in the Gulf of Mexico as well as the tourism trade of the beach towns all along the coast. Tragically, eleven workers are dead and many more injured, but their fate has sunk nearly out of site in the news on the environmental disaster.
Lisa Moore‘s new novel, February, relates the story of a fictional family affected by a similar accident off the shore of Newfoundland. However in the sinking of the semi-submerisible vessel Ocean Ranger in February 1982, 84 crew members slipped into icy waters and died.
The month of February equates to cold and bleak in the northern hemisphere–the most forbidding time of the year. And the novel, with its spare dialogue and raw emotions feels chilly.
We mainly follow the thoughts of Helen, mother of four, who lost her husband on that day. Her thoughts spiral through time and space taking us back to 1982 and earlier in her relationship with her husband, and then back to the present where she tries to make sense of a world where she is growing older, but her dead husband Cal will forever be 32. Although 16 years have gone by, part of her is frozen in the past. The spiral includes her grown children, whose lives remind her of bits and pieces of her youth.
Moore brings us thoughts and dialogue in bits and pieces that tend to repeat and dangle between characters unformed and incomplete. It feels totally real. When she focuses on the mundane details of life, I think ‘How does she know so much about my life and my feelings?’ For me, that is the mark of the best kind of novelist. They get life right.
Life barrels through; it is gone. Something rushes through. The front door slams and then a door slams in the back; something burns on the stove; birthdays, brides and caskets; babies, bankruptcy, huge strokes of luck, the trees full of ice; gone.
As for Newfoundland–we see the houses, feel the biting cold of the wind, hear the cadence of the speech. Canadian writer Moore knows her surroundings and has researched the historic details of the Ocean Ranger so that part is real, too.
You can read an interesting interview with Moore, but it may be a spoiler if you have not yet read the book.
The novel was provided for review by the publisher, Black Cat, an imprint of Grove-Atlantic. The photograph is used under Creative Commons license, from Flickr.com Click on the photo for more Newfoundland scenery by the same photographer.
You can read more 2010 travel books at A Traveler’s Library. Have you tried Two new Road Books, a prize-winning travel book from New Zealand, French cook book, or a book on Mark Twain as travel writer?
Have you visited Newfoundland? I have not, but the photographs make me think it would be a beautiful place to go. Not in February, perhaps. And have you read Lisa Moore?How do you like these books that are mostly dialogue and not much external action?