A tale of mystery and healing from the Canadian forests, where Nature can be nasty and men can easily go mad.
The force of William Faulkner combines with Michael Ondaatje’s giddying lyricism in this devastating novel from Canada.
We’re in the Canadian uplands, a landscape of lakes and forests, cabins and canoes, hunters and hunted. The Healer is a young teenage girl with a gift she finds hard to bear: she seems able to heal the sick, to drive out foul spirits.
Her father is a brutal man: strong, tempestuous and violent, he finds it hard to accommodate his daughter’s abilities in the way she would wish. A journalist, our principal narrator, comes between them, sent by his magazine to secure a story.
Entranced by the girl and the emptiness of the land, he buys from a persuasive realtor a derelict fisherman’s lakeside cabin, which is utterly inaccessible in the midst of a vast forest, in which he – and others – lose their tracks. The cabin becomes the centre of the action, and all three main characters swirl into a vortex of vengeance and violence – violence reflected in a landscape of storms and floods of terrifying power. Hollingshead proves himself a writer who knows the lethal force latent in the natural world. And that man is an animal too.
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Praise for Greg Hollingshead:
‘Hollingshead’s prose is outlandishly original, blunt, awful and funny. Here are tiny, fiery worlds that make you roar with laughter in the first paragraph, cry in the last. A magical, unmissable, crazily perfect book.’
Julie Myerson, Mail on Sunday
‘He has a way of making the ordinary buckle and twist into something quite bizarre’
‘Brilliant and funny. Every line sparkles with originality and intelligence’
¿A blend of high drama and sly, dark marvels' New York Times
‘The Healer, Greg Hollingshead’s second novel, begins with Tim Wakelin, a freelance writer, visiting a small mining town in the Canadian Shield in order to follow up a story about a local woman whose reputed healing powers have received attention in newspapers and women’s magazines over the past year. However, it soon becomes clear that the exposure of a "hick superstition story" is not the real reason for Wakelin’s interest in Caroline. Devastated by his wife’s suicide, still carrying a bag of her underclothes with him as a comforter to help him sleep, he is in need of "healing" of his own… The book combines an effectively suspenseful plot with a serious meditation on the dark side of love. The Healer is an accomplished novel which gives full rein to an imagination that moves equally freely in the realms of the bizarre and the everyday, asserting the covert connections between the two.’ Julian Ferraro, TLS
‘Hollingshead does not burden The Healer with solutions but allows the unfathomable impulses of love and hurt to enmesh these fractured and dislocated lives. He writes with a governing absence of philosophy that vividly recalls the nihilisms of Cormac McCarthy. There are resonances of E.Annie Proulx, too, in his poetically compressed prose that imagines stark landscapes as richly unyielding as their beleaguered inhabitants. This is a substantial book and a swift read despite the gravity of its tale. Hollingshead’s unhysterical comprehension of the human capacity for harm is convincing and unsettling; such raw exposure of emotion lends an edge of agoraphobia to his isolated, northern community.’ James Urquhart, Guardian
‘From the first decapitated chipmunk [Hollingshead] reveals himself as a David Lynch of prose. Once the characters are pursuing one another through a vast expanse of Canadian woodland, Hollingshead piles on the menace… Excellent fodder for that remote camping holiday.’ Patrick Gale, Daily Telegraph
‘There are some wonderfully poetic and resonant images in this novel; the descriptions of the Canadian landscape are incandescent and some of the set-pieces both hilarious and disturbing.’ Francis Gilbert, The Times
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Book Description Flamingo, 1999. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0002257971