A review of
The Town That Forgot
How to Breathe
by Kenneth J. Harvey
social and economic insight, even as it scares our pants off?
In overview, Kenneth Harveys first American publication (following thirteen books in Canada) seems pure horror. A cranky and ingrown community named Bareneed suffers visitations from the dead, the corpses fresh even when centuries old, bobbing up out of the Newfoundland codfish lanes that used to provide the towns income.
But then the eerie bleeds into the surreal as locals literally forget how to breathe. A few die, while others wind up on respirators, their eyes black and vacant. Authorities are mystified.
The trouble began when the cod fishery closed down a few years earlier and the community lost a piece of its soul, developing a needa bare needfor visions manifested as a coping mechanism. But the secondhand vitality of conjuring spirits, in this town, must compete with the canned visions of the twenty-first century, the electronic storytelling of TV and the internet. Thus Harveys drama comes to embody a classic theme, the search for a locus of spirit in a world dominated by the machine. In this way, Town achieves more than hair-raising thrills.
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