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Baltimore's Mansion: A Memoir (original 1999; edition 2001)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385720300, Paperback)In this forceful, complex memoir, Wayne Johnston returns to the setting of his 1999 novel, The Colony of Unrequited Dreams. Johnston doesn't just come from Newfoundland, remotest of Canada's provinces; he comes from the Avalon Peninsula, the most isolated portion of Newfoundland (and confused in young Wayne's boyish imaginings with the mythical Avalon, where King Arthur sailed to be healed of mortal wounds). It's an apt metaphor for a land that "was the edge of the known world, and looked it." Avalon's natives fiercely resented the 1948 referendum that joined Newfoundland to the Canadian Confederation--especially Johnston's father, the memoir's central character, who keens for lost independence in a manner highly reminiscent of Stephen Dedalus's father in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Indeed, parallels with Ireland are evident throughout, not just because the Johnstons are descended from Irish immigrants but because the Newfoundlanders exhibit a similar passionate insularity and zest for feuding among themselves. Johnston's muscular, plainspoken prose bears little resemblance to that of James Joyce, but his themes of exile and loss, loyalty and betrayal, and an ancient culture's ambivalent relationship with modernity resonate with the great writer's most urgent concerns. --Wendy Smith
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:02:38 -0400)
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