Bruce Johnson’s debut novel, Firmament, offers a fictional meditation on the real life community of Caplin Cove, Newfoundland. Resisting the sentimental or documentary approaches common to many Newfoundland novels, Johnson braids songs, folk-tales, scripture, dreams, diaries and poems together into an expressionist work, one where the grit of the mundane intersects with the mystery of human memory and dreams. At its heart is a preoccupation with the strange relationship among humans, the place they inhabit and time.
‘Firmament binds together thirteen stories,’ writes Johnson ‘spanning 200 years within a single cove in rural Newfoundland. Each of the stories, and all of the characters, attempt to come to terms with the nature of time and how it defines us as human. Each tale begins with a word taken from the Dictionary of Newfoundland English, from which I build the text. I choose words that I feel encompass aspects of the Newfoundland psyche. I tried to craft a text that avoided some pitfalls I see in many stories set here, namely stereotypical Newfoundland characterizations and overly sentimental views of the past. I am not interested in realism that documents a particular people or place, as much as creating a small world were the grit of the mundane can intersect with the mystery of human memories and dreams. Every moment in the novel exists in the present tense. There are also many different types of narratives braided into these stories, including songs, folk-tales, scripture, dreams, diaries, photographs and poems.’
About Bruce JohnsonSee more books from this Author
...Firmament has its motives in the right place. Nevertheless, Johnson’s attempt doesn’t seem like the right way to redraw the map, if such a tangible metaphor is suitable for this book at all.Read Full Review of Firmament | See more reviews from National Post arts