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Digital Subscriptions > Quill & Quire > APRIL 2017 > Bitter ashes

Bitter ashes

Joel Thomas Hynes traverses familiar territory in his latest novel

EDITOR’S CHOICE

We’ll All Be Burnt in Our Beds Some Night

Joel Thomas Hynes

HarperCollins

NEWFOUNDLAND NOVELIST, playwright, actor, and musician Joel Thomas Hynes has developed one of the most distinctive and recognizable voices in the Canadian literary canon. This is both a blessing and a curse. The novels Down to the Dirt and Right Away Monday displayed an author honing his particular approach: a dialect-driven dissection of unreconstructed masculinity (a subject Hynes has also addressed in his acclaimed non-fiction volume, Straight Razor Days). His dramatic work – both as an actor and a playwright – has lent him an ear for colloquial rhythm and vernacular that is virtually unimpeachable: when he clicks into a groove he can execute whole page-long paragraphs that read like fluid stage monologues.

But, his retreat to similar characters and situations runs the risk of appearing like a retread: Johnny Keough, the hardened, violent tough from the skids who serves as the central character of Hynes’s latest novel closely resembles earlier Hynes protagonists Keith Kavanagh and Clayton Reid, and the boozeand- drug ridden Newfoundland milieu feels likewise old hat for the author.

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