My Famous Evening: Nova Scotia Sojourns, Diaries, and Preoccupations

My Famous Evening: Nova Scotia Sojourns, Diaries, and Preoccupations

by Howard Norman
     
 

Master storyteller Howard Norman draws on more than 30 years of visiting Nova Scotia for this remarkable ''book of selective memories.'' Combining stories, folklore, memoir, nature, poetry, and expository prose, the chapters of My Famous Evening ''may be seen as intersecting facets of reminiscence; there are certain refrains, themes, and

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Overview

Master storyteller Howard Norman draws on more than 30 years of visiting Nova Scotia for this remarkable ''book of selective memories.'' Combining stories, folklore, memoir, nature, poetry, and expository prose, the chapters of My Famous Evening ''may be seen as intersecting facets of reminiscence; there are certain refrains, themes, and preoccupations and I placed birds into as many of the book's nooks and crannies as possible.'' His goal: to portray the emotional dimensions of his experience.

Illustrated with photographs from Norman's own collection, this book offers a delightful, witty, and characteristically quirky take on a curious and beguiling region.

Read the story of Marlais Quire, a young woman who scandalously left her home in Nova Scotia in 1923 to travel to New York in an ill-fated attempt to attend a public reading by Joseph Conrad. Enjoy the delightful ''Birder's Notebook,'' a collection of stories about the Mi'kmaq cultural hero, Glooskap, and an account of Leon Trotsky's 1915 visit to Halifax, after a year in exile in New York, ''on his way to the October Revolution.'' For Norman, Nova Scotia is a place that provides a deep calm but also a ''sudden noir of the heart.''

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Editorial Reviews

Georgia Jones-Davis
If you love evocative writing about haunted houses, ocean birds, the mysteries of coves and storms and lives spent close to the sea, My Famous Evening is for you.
The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Norman shares his decades-long love affair with Nova Scotia in this latest addition to the National Geographic Directions series. Having traveled to the island in 1979 for work on a documentary film script, the author of The Bird Artist and The Northern Lights returns over the years, collecting myths and memories. In the book's first section, Norman relives the wanderlust of a young village woman, Marlais Quire, through the 1923 letters she writes to her sister. Enraptured with Joseph Conrad's work, Quire follows the writer to New York against her husband's wishes and her own better judgment. Quire never meets Conrad, but the struggle with her controlling husband and her literary passions lends insight to Nova Scotian smalltown life in the early 20th century. Later, Norman shares a number of stories about forerunners, eerie omens of tragedy well known to seafaring communities: "Forerunners, it seems to me, are examples of belief naturally infused with melancholy." Norman's love of bird-watching leads him to another folktale, concerning a mythic creature who protects locals from a troublesome bird that stirs up dangerous weather for oceangoers. Through his aviary interest, Norman also forges a friendship with Sandra Barry, a fellow bird-watcher and expert on the life of poet Elizabeth Bishop, who, as a child, was sent to live with her grandparents in Nova Scotia. The two retrace Bishop's steps: "I had wanted to sit all night in the kitchen of Elizabeth Bishop's house, candles lit, conversation between [my wife] and Sandra a kind of s ance, bringing Miss Bishop into the present." Norman's collection is an out-of-the-ordinary pastiche of personal recollections and historical sketches. Map not seen by PW. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
The author of five novels (e.g., The Bird Artist) and a collector of Native American tales, Norman here turns his attention to the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. This four-part collection of first-person travel essays describes Norman's research there, as well as some of the stories he discovered. Part 1 relates the tale of Marlais Quire, a young woman who left her family in Nova Scotia to travel to New York to hear Joseph Conrad speak. Not only does she mistakenly believe that her husband is killed as a result of her desertion but she also fails to get close to Conrad. The narrative wanders back and forth, offering letters, folktales, and Norman's feelings and opinions, as well as an extremely long list of birds native to Nova Scotia. Unexpected, often fascinating, and difficult to characterize, this book will likely appeal only to other researchers. Buy for collections of Canadiana and for public libraries where travel essays are popular.-Alison Hopkins, Brantford P.L., Ont. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780792266303
Publisher:
National Geographic Society
Publication date:
03/01/2004
Series:
National Geographic Directions Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
197
Sales rank:
927,672
Product dimensions:
5.57(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.91(d)

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