MacLeod, Alistair

The Boat

Canadian Short Fiction Month continues, as promised, with a story that seems obviously designed to be delivered from the lips straight to the ears. There’s so much beauty tucked away in here of the sort you wouldn’t necessarily see on the page, unless you read to yourself with one of the voices in your head.

Critically and academically, it’s the opening of this story that tends to get the most attention. But there’s an incredible rhythm throughout (the magnificence of which I likely don’t give justice), and it’s the ending that really got the chills going in this reader. I’d say more, but that’d spoil it.

And for those who are here on academic assignment, you shouldn’t take this as any sort of criticism against the value or impact of the opener — listen to your teachers or professors. The opening is worth study. But listen through to the end (yes, it’s almost an hour long).

It also makes prominent use of the word GALUMPH, a word that doesn’t see nearly as much usage as it deserves. Coincidentally, when out for a woodsy walk this morning, my co-perambulator noticed a set of tracks in the snow and noted that they likely belonged to “something large, galumphing.” And following so closely on the heels of my reading, left me all kinds of tickled. So we walked on, me in galumph-appreciative reverie, and stumbled upon a dead porcupine.

I’m not sure if that was an omen or, more importantly, what it has to do with galumphing.