Mind the Gap
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Winner of the 2020 Reader Views Award for best humor/satire of 2019, this is a crazy, funny novel about family life, illness, healing, and the search for love.
Mind the Gap recounts the misadventures of an improbable hero, Richard Grey, who wears a gas mask in front of the TV set while watching his favourite hockey team, the Montreal Canadiens. Given that he grows up pretty much in confinement, weird things happen around him...or is it all in his mind?
In this quirky coming-of-age novel, listeners meet a cast of colourful, off-the-wall characters, from Grandmother Grieve to Father Reginald and Mother Augusta to the elusive "girl next door", Chloé Trahan.
Kirkus Reviews calls Mind the Gap "a seriocomic dysfunctional-family saga and magical-realist coming-of-age tale that will put some readers in mind of John Irving’s work - if Irving had a fondness for hockey. The well-drawn characterizations carry along a plotline that seems a bit too bumpy and meandering for its own good. Fortunately, the characters are sympathetic, vulnerable, and oddball enough to make the rocky journey worthwhile, and some of Tombs’ details - especially in his portrait of a shady book publisher - have an impressive realism. An effective novel of family and society from a writer with a flair for the offbeat."
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- John Faithful Hamer
A LOVE LETTER TO QUÉBEC:
A coming of age story set, for the most part, in Montreal, Mind the Gap (2019), the author’s debut novel, slides in and out of dramatic comedy, Künstlerroman, and magical realism—delightfully defying definition. Tombs seems to respect the borders between genres about as much as snow geese respect those between nation states. Much as the garden snail lives in a shell of its own creation which shields it from a dangerous world, Richard Grey, the novel’s dreamy protagonist, lives in an imaginary world of his own creation which shields him, for the most part, from the worst ravages of a deeply dysfunctional family and decidedly traumatic childhood. But as is so often the case, the fortress that protects him as a child becomes a prison that restricts him as a man. To find true love with Chloé, he must transcend his tendency towards idealization and learn how to relate to a woman, not as a screen upon which to project his fears and fantasies, but as a flesh-and-blood human being, beautifully flawed and altogether real. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given his romantic temperament, Richard decides rather early on in life that he wants to be a writer. He drifts into journalism whilst still an undergraduate at McGill, where his considerable powers of imagination, and preternatural ability to paint with words, render him, before long, a much sought after foreign correspondent. Wealthy propagandists on either side of Québec’s linguistic divide are quick to spot Richard’s talents. Both try to recruit him, but he will not be used by either. A bilingual young man who lives in both of the two solitudes, Richard refuses to pick a side. The worldviews of the Westmount Rhodesians and the Québécois separatists are both, to his mind, cramped and claustrophobic, limited and limiting. He chooses, instead, animistic connection to the place itself: to the Saint Lawrence River and the birds. And in so doing, he finds what he was looking for all along.