Monday, April 7, 2008

BOOK: The Ravine by Paul Quarrington

The Ravine by Paul Quarrington

in the Pub '08

Paul Quarrington has been in the news lately (in Canada) as the author of the winning Canada Reads book, King Leary. I haven't read it yet, but when I got the opportunity to read his latest book, released March 11, 2008, I jumped.

And then I laughed my way through this book. Phil McQuigge is a fifty year old alcoholic, who has recently lost his wife and his job. Things aren't looking so great for Phil. Interestingly, Quarrington describes the book as semi-autobiographical. Phil decides that much of his crappy life relates back to an incident in 'the ravine' when he and a friend and his brother met up with some mean teenagers one day. Phil decides to write a novel based on the incident, if only he could remember exactly what happened.

I'm sure this doesn't sound like a funny book from my description, but Quarrington is very humorous, with irony and black comedy and straight-out funny lines. Phil's brother Jay, who also made a mess of his life, is around if somewhat estranged, and continually refutes the details of Phil's memories. I found this a rather timely discussion of memory, as there have been some recent news events with misplaced memories, and it is an area I find very interesting. Phil was also a teevee writer, and his famous television show (famous in Canada for 156 episode, it only played two episode in the States) is based on a movie he saw as a child (memories again.) Then you begin to question the narrator because if he doesn't remember, how reliable is anything he tells us?

So, the book is a novel being written by the main character about his life, which is semi-autobiographical. If I thought about it I got confused, so instead I just sat back and enjoyed the self-deprecating humour. The ending was a little weird and I'm not exactly sure what to make of it, but it was worth the read to get to the end. I must look for King Leary now.


  1. It sounds great. Aaron recently won King Leary. I'm trying to wait a decent amount of time before begging to borrow it.

  2. I think I'd like to read this one. I haven't read King Leary yet but it is on my list of must reads. Perhaps I use it for Canadian Book Challenge Eh! 2.0

    My site:

  3. bybee - It's great you two have each other to borrow books from. You should offer to preview it for him.

    aaron - I think I'll save King Leary for the next Canadian Challenge. It doesn't seem hard.

  4. Until Canada Reads, I hadn't even heard of Quarrington. I'm glad he's gotten some limelight.


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