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The Town That Forgot How to Breathe: A Novel (2003)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312424809, Paperback)With no more cod to fish, Bareneed, the setting of Kenneth J. Harvey's powerfully eerie The Town That Forgot How to Breathe, has become another Newfoundland outport village on the wane. As one character laments, "Bareneed, once a lively and warm place, now stank of drabness and heartbreak." It's not much of a magnet for tourists, but it has attracted two visitors for the summer: a fisheries officer and his young daughter. Deeply pained by the recent break-up of his marriage, Joseph fails to notice the more curious aspects of the town. It takes him a while to hear about the townsfolk who've been dropping dead for no apparent reason. He's also slow to realize that his daughter Robin's new playmate is the ghost of a drowned girl. When he and Robin find an "exceptionally ugly" sculpin at the end of their fishing line, Joseph again tries to stay calm. But then he takes a closer look at his catch. "Feeling his fingers turn warm while he tried to disengage the hook," Harvey writes, "Joseph whisked them away. Flesh-coloured fluid seeped from the sculpin's wide mouth. A solid object began edging out as he wiped his fingers on his pants--a flesh-coloured sculpted orb, topped with something that resembled hair, matted in mucousy clumps." The porcelain doll's head that emerges from the fish is one in a series of unsettling sights in Harvey's book. As more and more objects are expelled from the sea, Bareneed's most painful secrets come to the surface.
By setting his story in this desolate Atlantic locale, Harvey seeks to do more than add regional flavour to a Stephen King-style tale of an ordinary community plagued by inexplicable events. Instead, the terrors that Harvey describes are rooted in very real psychological and societal traumas. What makes The Town That Forgot How to Breathe so cunning is the way Harvey uses the horror genre as the basis for a provocative defence of Newfoundland's imperiled cultural traditions. Even though his ornate prose style can sometimes get waterlogged in the scenes between the shocks, Harvey has created a book that is as compelling as it is unique. --Jason Anderson
(retrieved from Amazon Sun, 13 Jan 2013 00:53:08 -0500)
When the maritime village of Bareneed is beset upon by mythic sea creatures, a bizarre suffocating plague, and other strange events, divorced father Joseph Blackwood works against time to save his only daughter.
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