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Diggin' a hole: Spadework

Adam Wilson

i finally read Timothy Findley's last novel.

It's not that I don't like Timothy Findley either; i really do. I think a small part of me didn't want to acknowledge the fact that he is gone from us now.


It should be known now that I'm a big fan of Findley's entire body of work, so a review by me might be somewhat biased. I will now let you know that I still have yet to finish Pilgrim, the novel Findley published before Spadework. The reason it hasn't been finished is simply because I don't really like it. It's long, and somewhat boring, and jumps around too much for my liking.

But on to Spadework.

It takes place in Stratford, Ontario. Not far from where I am as I write this.

Like any good Canadian writer, Findley evokes emotion in us through his description of places you've seen and experienced. I've only been to Stratford once, but his descriptions of the Festival theatre brought it all back to me.

It's also fitting that his last novel takes place where he himself lived up until his death.

The story focuses around actors, actresses, set designers and pretty much everyone else involved with the Stratford festival. The accidental slicing of a telephone line leads many lives into disarray.

Like the plays the festival puts on that bring thousands to the city, the book has a very Shakespearean feel to it. Mistaken words, innocent innuendo, backstabbing and sharp wit are in abundance throughout the novel.

The characters are recognizable. Not stereotypes, but you can see them. Findley always had a real talent for making you recognize his characters even is they were people you would never normally encounter in a normal day, or life.

This novel is by no means Findley's best work. With his death, I'll remember him for his masterpieces like Last of the Crazy People, The Wars and Not Wanted on the Voyage. It's not as literary and intelligent as the above-mentioned works.

Spadework is plain and simply a good novel. It's a good read that reminded me a lot of Findley's The Telling of Lies. If you're a fan of Findley, read it. If you're not a fan, it's still a nice open-ended readable book that would make for good spare time reading.

I highly suggest picking up one of Findley's other works also. Devour them. Wear them out. Experience what was one of Canada's greatest writers for many years to come.

published by HarperCollins
ISBN 0060932627

contrary to popular belief, adam wilson IS still alive and working with canadian content. he can be reached at

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