Colin McAdam Some Great Thing

ISBN 13: 9780151010288

Some Great Thing

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9780151010288: Some Great Thing
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Jerry McGuinty is a simple, self-made builder who claims he can plaster a wall that will change your life. Simon Struthers is a disaffected businessman who proves the old adage about money and happiness. Together they face the new Ottawa of the seventies: brash, bright, and ready for the taking.

With their different careers and successes, these two strangers seek to carve out their own happiness-Jerry with his new wife, Simon with his endless affairs and intrigues. But love can be suffocated by the drive to succeed, and individuals crushed by greed and progress. Only when both men realize what they have to lose will their lives finally intersect, and the story spiral to its astonishing conclusion.

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Review:

Canadian writer Colin McAdam's Some Great Thing demonstrates much promise but shows a bit of the raggedness to be expected from an ambitious debut effort. McAdam spends nearly a quarter of the book slowly introducing his interpretation of Ottawa, experimenting with first- and third-person narration, and framing the lives of his two protagonists, Simon Struthers and Jerry McGuinty. McGuinty is an ambitious developer with a passion for plaster and for the lunch truck cook, Kathleen Herlihy. Struthers, a man crippled by the reputation of his famous father, is a civil servant in the National Capital Division. Only at the end of Part Two (of Six) do Struthers and McGuinty meet, and Part Three begins the real unfolding of the story. Some readers will have abandoned McAdam long before, during his explorations of the corrupt process for getting small business loans or in his fragmented presentation of Struthers's sexual appetites. They may also stumble over McAdam's occasional lapses into pseudo-poetry, placed in the mouths of working-class characters ("...I will tell you about a line like 'S' and the taste of the milk of lost hope.")

Yet, as McAdam moves forward, the work he has done early on establishing relationships and experimenting with form builds momentum. The ageing Struthers's sexual dalliances and his struggle to live up to the promise of the visionary Dreambook (a list of grand ideas prepared by one of the early city mandarins) lead him to seek distraction, inevitably, in a tragic passion for Kweyt Schutz, the daughter of one of his co-workers. Meanwhile, McGuinty's pursuit of "some great thing to do" manifests in sprawling suburbs, shopping malls, conflicts with Struthers over development plans, and a quest to build a relationship with his lost son.

McAdam's affinity for development and city planning makes perfect sense when considering the complexity of Some Great Thing. While it is far from perfect, there is great talent on display in the book, and McAdam's craftsman-like approach suggests he will only improve with each new construction. --Patrick O'Kelley

About the Author:

COLIN McADAM is a Canadian who grew up in Hong Kong, Denmark, England, and Canada. Educated at McGill University and Cambridge, he now divides his time between Sydney and Montreal. Some Great Thing is his first book.

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Book Description Harcourt, 2004. Hardcover. Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: As New. 1st Edition. McAdam, Colin. SOME GREAT THING. NY: Harcourt Books, c2004. First edition. 403pp. Lg 8vo. New trade hardcover with d/w. Seller Inventory # 64554

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