Strong Hollow

By (author): Linda Little

In her bold debut novel, Linda Little has crafted a story where music, creativity, and sexuality merge, as a young Nova Scotian carver embarks on a profound discovery of his sense of self. Strong Hollow tells the story of Jackson Bigney, a young man coping with a crippling past of repression, alcoholism, and poverty.

Failure seems built-in to Jackson’s life. His father, a brutal man with a short fuse, despises his son, and Jackson’s brothers thrive on drinking, violence and petty crime. Jackson finds solace only by carving tiny objects — acorns, field mice, bottle caps and leaves — as he has done since childhood. The day Jackson finds his father dead in a ditch beside the MacIntyre road is the day he begins his own metamorphosis. At nineteen, the seventh of nine children and the eldest still at home, Jackson seems predestined to follow in the feckless footsteps of his father. He becomes silent and empty, unable to feel or to articulate emotion.

Setting himself up as a bootlegger, Jackson builds a small cabin. He lives only in the present, expecting no more from life than work, alcohol and empty sex. One summer, Jackson meets Ian Sutherland, an accomplished fiddler and a powerful attraction develops between them. Twenty-nine and in love for the first time, Jackson feels alive with anticipation and fulfilment. Inevitably, at summer’s end, Ian leaves and Jackson is shattered. Seeking to fill the void in this life, Jackson begins to restore a derelict fiddle. At a music shop in Halifax, he meets an accepting circle of friends. And as the fiddle takes shape, Jackson’s perceptions of himself begin to change and he realizes that how the world sees you is how you come to see yourself.

AUTHOR

Linda Little

Linda Little’s novels include Scotch River (2006), which won the Raddall Atlantic Fiction Prize, and Strong Hollow (2001), which was nominated for the Amazon.ca First Novel Award. She has published short stories in The Penguin Book of Short Stories by Canadian Women, among others. She lives in River John, Nova Scotia.


Reviews

Nineteen-year-old Jackson Bigney begins to change the day he hauls home the body of his father, found dead in a ditch after forty years of steady drinking. Jackson is the spitting image of his dad, a man who gave him nothing but beatings and a fatal taste for booze.

Alone in his large, brawling family, Jackson is inarticulate, gentle, and a fine wood carver. For several drunken years, he earns a meagre living as a bootlegger. One summer, his heart opens to Ian, a fiddler, and for a few weeks he grasps the joy he has craved all his life. In the terrible wake of their affair, trying to recapture the inspiration of Ian’s music, Jackson discovers that hollowness can be the source of power.


“The novel’s characters speak in the rough back-country cadences of the Maritimes and are toughened by the no-work, no-money, no-advantages limitations of rural Maritime life. Yes, these are ‘typical’ Maritimers, but in Little’s care they transcend stereotypes.”
Quill & Quire

“There are books that envelop you so soundly in their moody and definitive sense of place that you are literally lost for days, feel alien in your own world when you gaze up from the words. …Strong Hollow is a darkly luminous, heart-rending book, a testament to how a family can damage and stymie the individual.”
Globe and Mail

“Linda Little weaves a compassionate and compelling portrait of a family destroyed by poverty and ignorance, and the inarticulate, troubled son who finds a way to save himself … [a] wonderfully kind and intelligent novel.”
Ottawa Citizen

“Beautifully written, the novel demonstrates how courage can overcome DNA.”
Books in Canada

Awards

  • Cunard First Book Award 2002, Winner
  • Dartmouth Book Award 2002, Short-listed
  • Amazon.ca/Books in Canada First Novel Award 2002, Short-listed
  • Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic Fiction Prize 2002, Short-listed
  • Excerpts & Samples ×

    In her bold debut novel, Linda Little has crafted a story where music, creativity, and sexuality merge, as a young Nova Scotian carver embarks on a profound discovery of his sense of self. Strong Hollow tells the story of Jackson Bigney, a young man coping with a crippling past of repression, alcoholism, and poverty.

    Failure seems built-in to Jackson’s life. His father, a brutal man with a short fuse, despises his son, and Jackson’s brothers thrive on drinking, violence and petty crime. Jackson finds solace only by carving tiny objects — acorns, field mice, bottle caps and leaves — as he has done since childhood. The day Jackson finds his father dead in a ditch beside the MacIntyre road is the day he begins his own metamorphosis. At nineteen, the seventh of nine children and the eldest still at home, Jackson seems predestined to follow in the feckless footsteps of his father. He becomes silent and empty, unable to feel or to articulate emotion.

    Setting himself up as a bootlegger, Jackson builds a small cabin. He lives only in the present, expecting no more from life than work, alcohol and empty sex. One summer, Jackson meets Ian Sutherland, an accomplished fiddler and a powerful attraction develops between them. Twenty-nine and in love for the first time, Jackson feels alive with anticipation and fulfilment. Inevitably, at summer’s end, Ian leaves and Jackson is shattered. Seeking to fill the void in this life, Jackson begins to restore a derelict fiddle. At a music shop in Halifax, he meets an accepting circle of friends. And as the fiddle takes shape, Jackson’s perceptions of himself begin to change and he realizes that how the world sees you is how you come to see yourself.

    Reader Reviews

    Details

    Dimensions:

    280 Pages
    8.5in * 5.5in * 0.84in
    357gr

    Published:

    May 01, 2001

    Publisher:

    Goose Lane Editions

    ISBN:

    9780864923080

    Book Subjects:

    FICTION / Literary

    Featured In:

    All Books

    Language:

    eng

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