Release Date: 10 April 2002
Growing up in remote central Canada, Larry O'Connor was spellbound by the country farther north--the unknowable white expanses, the harsh lives of its indigenous peoples and animals, and the exploits of its legendary explorers. A memoir of self-discovery, "Tip of the Iceberg" samples the history and lore of the frozen wastes as it reveals a young man's journey across his family's past.
O'Connor is the kind of child the Eskimos might have left to the elements: undersized, frail, an outsider. Yet he is willful, driven to lift the pall that emanates from his father to blanket the entire family. Underlying the physical coldness of place is an emotional chill. O'Connor's father is a stern, secretive man, barely knowable to his son, misunderstood by those around him. While father and son are poles apart in their temperament, O'Connor senses the traces of a hidden, softer man in his father, a man who retreats to a lockbox of memorabilia in the middle of the night. O'Connor pushes on in his quest.
O'Connor's spare and elegant prose conveys the heartbreaking weight of the unspoken and unseen: relatives who never call or visit, photographs locked in a cedar chest, forgotten obituaries in back issues of the local newspaper. In eerie counterpoint, O'Connor mixes fact and fable about narwhals, the midnight sun, and the elusive Northwest Passage with details of the two lives--the maturing son and distant father. At the same time O'Connor ponders the spirit-killing ethos of his working-class town: Do your duty and mind your business, no showing off and no complaining.
The effect is cumulative, subtle, and inexorable. "Tip of the Iceberg" is a remarkable story, perfectly modulated by O'Connor's exquisite style and infused with the kind of deep humanity that comes from understanding and forgiveness.
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