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Theatre of Fish: Travels Through Newfoundland and Labrador

por John Gimlette

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1474143,647 (3.3)14
Newfoundland is one of the most intriguing places in North America, a land of breathtaking but cruel beauty, populated by some of the saltiest, oddest characters you’ll ever find. In Theatre of Fish, John Gimlette vividly describes the dense forests and forbidding coastlines and recounts the colorful and often tragic history of the region. He introduces us to the inhabitants, from the birds and moose to the descendants of the outlaws, deserters, and fishermen who settled this eastern edge of North America. Leavened with irreverence and affection, this is an irresistible portrait of life in extremis.… (más)
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I first read "At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig", John Gimlette's ode to Paraguay, and realised that further reading of Gimlette's oeuvre was required.

That led me to "Theatre of Fish", Gimlette's travelogue/history of Newfoundland and Labrador, once an independent nation but now part of Canada. Whereas "... Inflatable Pig" was a (somewhat darkly) humorous look at Paraguay, Gimlette ratchets up the depressive elements as we get the horrible history of Newfoundland; the cold, the poverty, the over-reliance on a cod based economy that came crashing down, the misery of the Indigenous peoples.

Gimlette introduces us to his great-grandfather, who travelled around Newfoundland in the nineteenth century, and then follows in his footsteps. He gets to meet direct descendants of the locals his forebear met and name checks many of the famous people who spent time in Newfoundland (no matter how fleetingly) over the years.

Although not quite as enjoyable as "Tomb of the Inflatable Pig", "Theatre of Fish" still led me to hunt down copies of Gimlette's other books, and surely that's as high a compliment as you could wish for. ( )
  MiaCulpa | Dec 18, 2015 |
Could not put it down. John Gimlette is a passionate, endlessly curious guide through Newfoundland and Labrador, two strange places that remain strange to me, but...now, thanks to Gimlette, there's specificity and texture and history with the strange. If you're hesitant to read what is called "travel writing", start here, and you'll realize what is possible. ( )
  SFToohey | Apr 1, 2015 |
Sometimes travel writers, trying to make their tours sound wacky and amusing, reduce the inhabitants to a series of mentally stunted freaks. I found his voice in this patronising, narcissistic, and odious.

Gimlette did a lot of background reading for this, and I wished often that I was reading his source material on the history of Newfoundland, rather than his filter on it. I also wanted to know about Canada instead of his family history and tenuous ancestral connections with the place. ( )
  nessreader | Aug 27, 2008 |
There are some travel books where you wonder that every person the writer met had an amazing story to tell. Then there are books where it seems like the author puts in everyone he meets, regardless of whether they're interesting or not. That's the case here. The author's "At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig" fell into the first category, which made me have high expectations here. But the history here isn't as interesting, and there's a lot more of the author in it (and he doesn't make himself and the tangentially-related family history seem as interesting). I kept waiting for the twist that would make all the history hang together in an interesting way, but it didn't happen. ( )
  teaperson | Nov 15, 2005 |
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'O flesh, flesh, how art thou fishified!"

William Shakespeare, "Romeo and Juliet"
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To those that live there, Newfoundland is, quite simply, 'The Rock'.
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Newfoundland is one of the most intriguing places in North America, a land of breathtaking but cruel beauty, populated by some of the saltiest, oddest characters you’ll ever find. In Theatre of Fish, John Gimlette vividly describes the dense forests and forbidding coastlines and recounts the colorful and often tragic history of the region. He introduces us to the inhabitants, from the birds and moose to the descendants of the outlaws, deserters, and fishermen who settled this eastern edge of North America. Leavened with irreverence and affection, this is an irresistible portrait of life in extremis.

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