Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday's Forgotten Books



It is with great delight that I join Pattinase's blog roundup this week for Friday's Forgotten Books.

Moving right along:

The Last of the Crazy People by Timothy Findley
1967

This was Timothy Findley's (1930-2002) first book. He is one of my very favorite Canadian writers. The Last of the Crazy People was not even published in Canada, only in Britain and the U.S. His second novel, The Butterfly Plague, (1969), was also rejected by Canadian publishers. His third novel, however, The Wars, (1977), won a Governor General's Award. Findley won several writing awards from both Canada and France.

Findley grew up in a wealthy section of Toronto (Rosedale) and attended private school, then Jarvis Collegiate, although he did not finish grade ten. I actually have a nephew who goes to that same high school!

Findley was briefly married. The marriage was annulled and Findley spent the rest of his life with his partner, screenwriter William Whitehead. Findley turned to dancing and acting. He was one of the originals at the Stratford Festival which opened in Southern Ontario in 1953 and where he worked with Alec Guinness. He wrote for television and radio and adapted Mazo de la Roche's The Whiteoaks of Jalna for CBC television. My entire family watched this show and I HAD NO IDEA, until I did a bit of research for this post, that Timothy Findley (Tiff for short) was one of the writers!

About The Last of the Crazy People: It's 1964 and the protagonist, Hooker Winslow, 11 years old, lives with his dysfunctional family. The family includes his crazy mother (who recently gave birth to a stillborn), his Aunt Rosetta (who caters totally to her brother/Hooker's dad), Nicholas (Hooker's dad and a man who can't connect with anyone and who talks whether he has a listener or not), his drunken brother, Gilbert.

From the back of the book: One brilliant, summer morning, an eleven year old boy commits a shocking and unpredictable crime. What drove Hooker Winslow to his act of insanity?

From an article written by Laura Moss: Although the stories differ dramatically in plot and form, the symbolic content of Findley's work is often predictable. His writing proliferates with scenes of violence, loneliness, animal rights, abuses of power, madness, and apocalyptic visions. Indeed, Findley himself jokingly points to his own recurring images and themes: "It came as something of a shock…to discover that for over thirty years of writing my attention has turned again and again to the same unvarying gamut of sounds and images…. I wish I hadn't noticed this. In fact, it became an embarrassment and I began to wonder if I should file A CATALOGUE OF PERSONAL OBSESSIONS.

Go see pattinase's blog for links to other posts for Friday's Forgotten Books.

P.S. Timothy Findley is the guy who wrote The Piano Man's Daughter. He hated the film.

P.P.S. Sorry. Got way too wordy on this post. But I do love this writer.

(Sources: Wikipedia, http://www.athabascau.ca/writers/findley.html, http://www.cbc.ca/news/obit/findley/)

10 comments:

David Cranmer said...

What a great cover! I like the sixties era look... Sounds like an interesting book and author.

JaneyV said...

Sounds like a fantastic read. This is a great idea. I hope that i continues through the generations so that no books get forgotten.

Josephine Damian said...

Barrie: So many great writers come out of Canada and they don't get enough notice.

Based on the cover, I wonder what role the cats play....

keri mikulski :) said...

Wow. Love this post - forgotten books. This one sounds amazing.

Alyson said...

I love the idea of writing about forgotten books. This one looks good!

~Virginia~ said...

hooray! i was looking for a new book recommendation! :)

Bee said...

I've never heard of either book or author -- but I'm so glad to be introduced. (If only he were the "last" of the crazy people, though. There seem to be so many around these days -- and probably not as charming as Hooker.)

Eileen said...

I love how you do this. I have never heard of this book or author either. I am looking forward to checking it out! See, I never would discover these wonderful treasures if you didn't share this information.
Thanks.

Just a Plane Ride Away said...

This looks very interesting! I can see that I need to start another list of books to read.

gabe said...

Timothy Findley. I've read him and was shocked to find my eleven year old daughter reading him. I thought he was too violent and difficult for a child. I think he gives a terrifying glimpse into what fiction and life can be. And as a mom, I wanted to protect my child from that truth. Sigh. I failed!