Michael Crummey

Posted: August 10, 2010 in Dark Art Cafe
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He has called himself a fossil in comparison to fellow Newfoundland writers Michael Winter, Lisa Moore and Joel Hynes, but Michael Crummey’s writing sparks with vitality. Whether he is writing poetry, short fiction, or a novel, Crummey is able to draw the reader into the chameleon skin of his living Newfoundland.

His earlier work in poetry and short fiction, as well as his first novel River Thieves, deal in different ways with loss: loss of culture, loved ones, a way of life. This early work, right up to and including The Wreckage, saw Crummey as a writer attempting to salvage stories from the past and translate them into literature. But just because he deals in fictional reclamation – a literary archeologist of Newfoundland history – this doesn’t make him a fossil by any means.

Crummey’s writing is kinetic, flesh on bone: his characters are not just constructed but are brought to life. Whether this is his deceased father, the legendary Jim Payton Jr., the young Newfoundland soldier Wish Furey, or the scallywag priest Father Phelan, Crummey creates full blooded characters.

His newest novel Galore is a masterpiece that owes as much to Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude as it does to the King James Bible and traditional Newfoundland folklore. Though still dealing with loss to a degree, this new novel is a fireworks display of storytelling sparking with life, sexuality, conspiracy, and miracles! If any work in the last 10 years speaks volumes about the cultural life and vitality of Newfoundland and Labrador, it is this novel, which is destined to become a classic.

There are scenes that will shock, and dialogue that will intoxicate, but the heart of the novel is Crummey’s love for the place he writes about. And it is that love that makes this book truly epic.

For an insightful interview with Michael Crummey on his poetry and novels, check out the interview below, originally recorded for the radio show Author’s Hour with folk musician and poet Michael Minor.

Click the link below to see a brief You-Tube interview with Michael Crummey about his new novel Galore!


  1. Chad says:

    Nice piece, sam.

  2. I see we share a passion for Crummey’s writing. I couldn’t agree more that of all recent Canadian fiction, this one will last. You might be interested in my discussion of Galore, which begins to explore the allegorical nature of the tale, amongst other things. It would be an interesting and worthwhile exercise to also compile a commentary on the many biblical allusions and the extent to which they mirror the original stories. I am not a biblical scholar, but even a cursory examination and a link to wikipedia provides some intriguing possibilities — the relationship between Judah and Lazarus, for example. How far (if at all) can the allusion (real or serendipitous by-product) to the Gospel of Judas and the gnostic texts, be interpreted and related to Jude’s role in the story? Lots of food for thought.

    • Thanks for the response and link to your site. Great blog and wonderful post on Crummey. A very deep book for sure with allusions galore! It’s one of those books I’ll be settling back into many times, I think, laughing and drawing fresh connections and loving the characters all the more!

      What other Crummey novels or stories in particular have you enjoyed? I have just finished teaching his short stories and was blown away yet again. “Afterimage”… wow. That’s the story Chafe’s GG winning play was based on this year. Can’t wait to see it re-staged!

      • I was first introduced to Crummey during a stint of reviewing in the mid-90’s to early 00’s, when River Thieves (which I thought was a near-masterpiece) passed across my desk. (That review is also posted on my blog under past reviews). I then entered what I like to refer to as “the black hole of teaching” and lost track of many of my favourite writers for a number of years — I’m not (yet) familiar with his short stories, but will add them to my reading list as soon as the pile of books on the nightstand is reduced to less than ten! At the moment, I teach Thomas King’s Green Grass Running Water to cover CanLit/Native cultures aspects of the curriculum, but, after reading Galore I’m thinking it would provide an excellent replacement, as I focus on introducing analytical techniques to my students early in the course and it would richly reward any attempts at analysis, as well as dovetail nicely with our exploration of literature and place — something to think about over the next summer perhaps. It was, as you can imagine, a great delight to be reunited with Crummey’s writing in Galore, and to appreciate the further development of his talent.

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