Tag Archives: No Great Mischief (novel)

Quote of the Day

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“It is difficult for a man ever to give advice to his father. Even if you try to think of him as just another man he is still your father and you are his child, regardless of how old you have become.”

Here’s a tip: If and when you come across a book with a blurb by Michael Ondaatje on the front or back cover, purchase it immediately. Like, now now. Don’t think about it. Just buy it. If you can’t afford it, then heed the goodly and nicely advice of Abbie Hoffman, whose 1971 book title says it all – Steal This Book.

Alistair MacLeod’s 1999 prize-winning novel No Great Mischief is one of those rare works of Canadiana that does not put you to sleep. Set between Toronto, Northern Ontario and Cape Breton Island (which some readers will know painfully well from Ann-Marie MacDonald’s Fall on Your Knees), the story is a lyrical mirror of our country’s modern history and captures many of these subtleties in ways only a master craftsman can do.

What I find ironic is that reading today’s Quote of the Day once again reminded me of – guess who! – Michael Ondaatje (and he’s got a blurb on Mr. MacLeod’s book cover in this version), and one of his innumerable pieces of prose that not only rocked my world the first time I read it in his memoir Running in the Family, but provided the opening to the eulogy I delivered at my father’s funeral years ago:

“Words such as love, passion, duty, are so continually used they grow to have no meaning – except as coins or weapons. Hard language softens. I never knew what my father felt of these “things.” My loss was that I never spoke to him as an adult.”

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