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A Week of This: a Novel in Seven Days by…
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A Week of This: a Novel in Seven Days

by Nathan Whitlock

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I pulled this book off the Chatswood library shelf as an almost-random selection. Considering that mode of selection, it was a pretty good read. But on the other hand, I will not be adding Nathan Whitlock to my Favourite Authors list. This is definitely not an action adventure book, it's a week in the life of some characters in a small Canadian town around the end of the 20th century. The town is in decline and so too are the characters' lives. It's a bit depressing to read, especially when your own life is in a similar decline. I don't need action in a book, and depressing can be also riveting reading, but in the case of this book I don't think Whitlock offers any remarkable insights into either declining small town life or the inner lives of the featured people. I think I was always going to finish the book, but having read it I know I won't pick it up again or look at the Whitlock section on my library's shelves in the future. ( )
  oldblack | May 22, 2014 |
Region-specific novels tend to suffer the failure of reaching a broader based appeal for those not familiar with the region in which the narrative takes place. However, this is not so in Whitlock’s debut novel which has a distinctly contemporary Ontarian flavour.
Set in a small town named Dunbridge, the novel is an intimate portrait of lower middle class adults in a one-week vignette. Highly episodic, the reader follows the brutally honest and real insights of a dysfunctional collection of characters that have either originated or ended up in Dunbridge, dished up in riveting quotidian chapters that alternate from the various points of view of the characters themselves, each with their insights and existential crises. There is nothing fantastic or superhuman about these characters: from 38 year-old Manda who works in a failing call centre, pressured by her husband Patrick to have a child, and mediating her rage against her abusive mother and a current go-nowhere life; Patrick whose sports store tucked at the end of a mall hovers perilously toward ruin; Marcus, a middle-aged hockey coach and resigned bachelor with his occasional bouts of employment, managing his nascent relationship with a woman with a child by a deadbeat dad; and Ken, an employee at Giant Tiger on a special government program for the mentally challenged whose face was burned by his mother as a child leaving him permanently disfigured, now trying to negotiate both rumours of an impending layoff and wanting to leave his rooming house. The plot that unites each of these characters together is psychologically complex and dynamic despite the apparent plain commonality of their situations. The book reads like a documentary peek into so many of those small towns in Ontario that have succumbed to the encroachment of Wal-Mart and the exodus of other more successful residents to larger city centres like Toronto.
Filled with vibrant and gritty imagery, wondrously colourful turns of phrase, Whitlock succeeds admirably in striking a balance between region specificity and the universal appeal to a shared human condition. A Week of This is like an HBO reality television series given a sturdy literary backbone and makes an ideal springtime read. ( )
  KXF | Nov 24, 2011 |
A quirky book. Funny and yet depressing at the same time as you experience the frustrations of the various characters seen as a glimpse into a week of their lives in this small Ontario town in the shadows of Toronto. I got into the book, but the ending left me hanging with no conclusions. ( )
  lkernagh | Nov 2, 2008 |
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Everything in Dunbridge was dead by October. The backyard gardens that had scaled old mop handles and broken hockey sticks throughout the summer, spreading up and out in a green lurch for the sky, now fell back in a withered heap. Leaves left a print of themselves on the sidewalk, looking trapped under ice. Colours everywhere were fading, as if the whole town were painted onto cement.
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Brilliant, darkly comic, and startlingly honest, this novel follow the lives of an extended family over one increasingly desperate week. Manda is a 38-year-old, tough, sarcastic woman who has yet to make peace with the town she was brought to as a teenager after her parents' messy divorce in this novel full of barbed dialogue and hilarious, deadpan descriptions of family dynamics.
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Brilliant, darkly comic, and startlingly honest, this novel follow the lives of an extended family over one increasingly desperate week. Manda is a 38-year-old, tough, sarcastic woman who has yet to make peace with the town she was brought to as a teenager after her parents' messy divorce in this novel full of barbed dialogue and hilarious, deadpan descriptions of family dynamics.… (more)

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ECW Press

2 editions of this book were published by ECW Press.

Editions: 1550228153, 1770410368

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