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

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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: 3/1/2004
  • Series: National Geographic Directions Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 197
  • Product dimensions: 5.59 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.87 (d)

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