EVERYTHING by Kevin Canty

Book Quote:

“The fifth of July, they went down to the river, RL and June, sat on the rocks with a bottle of Johnnie Walker Red and talked about Taylor. The fifth of July was Taylor’s birthday and they did this every year. He would have been fifty. RL had been his boyhood friend and June was married to him. He’d been dead eleven years.”

Book Review:

Review by Bonnie Brody (JUL 6, 2010)

Kevin Canty writes with a spare beauty. The book is designed so that there is a lot of white space on the pages and this space carries meaning. Everything is about people who are lost, looking for love, recovering from poor choices and yet have a resiliency that carries them through their damaged lives with strength and a certain dignity. Canty’s characters are able to tell us as much about themselves in their silences as when they speak.

The characters that comprise this novel overlap, and each chapter is primarily about one or two of the characters. There is RL, owner of a bait, tackle and guiding shop who has not had a loving relationship in years. He is a big man – in girth, spirit and appetites. He likes his booze and he wishes desperately for a woman. He was married for a while to a Dead Head who followed the Grateful Dead for years, leaving him to raise their daughter, Layla, on his own. Layla gives meaning to his life. She is nineteen years old and a college student. When not at school, she spends her summers in the Montana wilderness with RL where most of this novel takes place. Layla is recovering from a love affair gone amiss. RL realizes that Layla is not likely to be with him for much longer. He is trying to learn how to let her go.

RL decides to take in an old lover of his who is having chemotherapy for melanoma. In the back of his mind he hopes to resurrect some sort of relationship with her despite the fact that she is married. Betsy helps give some meaning to RL’s life because, with Layla in college, he faces the empty nest syndrome. With his big heart, he needs to give. However, with his huge appetites, he also expects a lot from others.

June is a close friend of RL’s. She was married to RL’s best friend who died eleven years ago. As the book begins, June decides to give up her widowhood. Her husband, Taylor, was her great love but now she wants another love. Eleven years of grieving is a long time. On top of that, she is a hospice worker, spending her days with the nearly dead.

Edgar is RL’s employee, an artist and lover of fishing. He knows fish and feels at one with the trout that inhabit the rivers of Montana. He is married with one child and another on the way. He is trying to make some difficult decisions in his life.

Canty has an inimitable sense of place. The reader feels like the Montana mountains are looming. I felt the lushness of the land, along with the hard life the inhabitants face. This is not a land for the weak but it can be a land for the lost – an end of the road place where people depend on one another. There is a lot of alcohol consumption in the book but there is rarely a mention of television or movies. Despite the loneliness of all the characters, they depend on one another for sustenance.

The characters speak to us in what they don’t say as much as what they tell us. This is a book about everything that makes us human – love, work, life, money, pain, joy, loneliness and connection. Canty gets it. His characters run the gamut of the soul. They are not sweet, nor are they urbanized. I pictured them in Carrhartts and jeans, rubber boots and down parkas. I felt their hands get cold and traveled with them on the dirt roads that were slick with mud or snow. I felt their pain and I soared with them in those rare moments of joy. It takes a fine author to take me to the depths of despair and soar the height of joy with his characters.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-0from 6 readers
PUBLISHER: Nan A. Talese (July 6, 2010)
REVIEWER: Bonnie Brody
EXTRAS: Excerpt
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July 6, 2010 В· Judi Clark В· No Comments
Tags: ,  В· Posted in: Contemporary, US Frontier West, Wild West

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