Malagash by Joey Comeau

(The following is an excerpt from a review written by Naomi MacKinnon at Consumed by Ink. It is reproduced here in part with her kind permission.)

Malagash is a gem of a book. And I can’t think of anyone I wouldn’t recommend it to.

The title of the book refers to the community where the story is set. Malagash is located along the north shore of Nova Scotia and is one of those places you can easily pass through without knowing you are there.

I thought Malagash would be a small town, but it is not even that. One long road, a twisting red paved loop around the north shore of Nova Scotia. There’s a tractor sitting in a field. A dirt bike leaning up against a shed. We pass a pen of llamas, who look bored as hell. The Atlantic ocean itself comes right up to drive along beside us. Then it slips away.

But this book is not really about the place. This story could have taken place anywhere.

Narrated by young Sunday, she tells us how her family came home to Malagash so her father could live out his final days where he had been born and raised. Her father is now in the hospital while the rest of the family (her mother, herself, and her younger brother Simon) stay with their grandmother.

The beauty of this book comes through in the interactions between the family members; their visits to the hospital to see their father, as well as the quieter, more ordinary times they share back at the house.

“Why do you take the phone off the hook every day?” Simon asks her. He’s smearing too much margarine on his slice of brown bread.

“Because there is nothing in the world more important than having dinner with my grandchildren,” my grandmother says.

She shakes pepper and salt onto her food. She takes a butter knife and puts too much margarine on her brown bread, just like Simon does, and then looks up to smile at us.

“And because it’s annoying,” she says.

Sunday and Simon begin to form a new, closer bond – almost against their will. By way of their remote location and absence of friends, they’re forced to spend time together.

Continue reading the rest of this review over at  Consumed by Ink

Malagash by Joey Comeau
ECW Press

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Naomi MacKinnon is a mother, daughter, wife, sister, friend, pet-lover, reader, walker, camper, and Nova Scotian. Naomi has contributed several guest reviews over the years to The Miramichi Reader. Her book review blog is Consumed By Ink.