Metro Reco: Inside
I read Inside, Kenneth J. Harvey’s newest novel, in a 24-hour period. I felt like I’d been punched in the gut when I was finished.
Wrongfully convicted Myrden has just been released after spending 14 years in prison. He returns to his tough neighbourhood in St. John’s, Newfoundland; awaiting him is an unfaithful, money-hungry wife, a daughter in an abusive relationship, a grandchild he has never met, former drinking buddies who helped get him convicted and sons who live hard and die young (the one who made good hasn’t spoken to him in years). He finds refuge in the arms of Ruth, a former lover he doesn’t think he’s good enough for.
A tragedy, the story is about redemption, friendship, loyalty, addiction, rage, fate, hope and the vicious cycle of poverty.
The novel is cleverly narrated in short, abrupt sentences; the effect on the reader is an underlying sense of anxiety, similar to the one always present in the man trying to adjust to the world outside prison walls. I was nervous about the technique when I started the book, but it works. Inside is an emotional, gripping read.
Inside has been nominated for the 2006 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. The winner, to be selected in March, will receive $15,000, with $2,000 presented to each of the finalists. Harvey’s novel, The Town That Forgot How to Breathe won the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award in Canada. His works have also been nominated for the Books in Canada First Novel Award and the Commonwealth Writers Prize. Harvey lives with his family in a Newfoundland outport.