Monday, March 29, 2010

Fiction: Deloume Road by Matthew Hooten

Debut novelist Matthew Hooten’s Deloume Road (Knopf Canada) is imaginative, masterful, ambitious and occasionally cloying. It’s a startling combination and one that, for this reader anyway, never quite gelled.

Told in three time segments and one location -- the title’s Deloume Road, a Vancouver Island backroad with a community connection. While Hooten lives on Vancouver Island and was raised there, he completed a Masters in creative writing at Bath Spa University in England. While he was there, Deloume Road was awarded the Greene & Heaton Prize for the best novel to emerge from the program.

While much of Deloume Road is smooth and lovely, the artful metaphors Hooten reaches for are sometimes just a little too much and, likewise, description sometimes moves from descriptive to a place slightly beyond.

I was put on alert in the book’s first paragraph, where a child is described as having “cobalt eyes.” While an argument against the possibility of eyes that color can be made, it is the fact that the writer felt the need to include them that I found bothersome. It feels like athleticism for the sake of showing how high one can jump where, to my mind, the purpose of description is to help grow the reader’s understanding of the picture.

Aside from this quibble with Hooten’s airs above the ground, Deloume Road really is quite fantastic. A complicated arc is wound within a story that on the surface appears simple... and that I describe only in very broad terms for fear of giving some of the delight away.

Deloume Road is part of Random House Canada’s New Face of Fiction program which has, since 1996, discovered a remarkably good crop of young authors, Yann Martel, Lori Lansens, Timothy Taylor and Ann-Marie MacDonald among them. Will Matthew Hooten come to be one of the sharply remarked of this group? Time will tell.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home