Friday, June 6, 2008

A Boy of Good Breeding

A Boy of Good Breeding by Miriam Toews was originally published in 1998. My paperback copy is 237 pages. It was the winner of the McNally Robinson Book of the Year award. A Boy of Good Breeding is a delightful, funny little story set in a small Canadian town of quirky characters. This is a book that leaves you with a good feeling. Toews could be favorably compared to a Canadian Garrison Keillor or Fannie Flagg. A Boy of Good Breeding is the perfect book for light summer reading. I am looking forward to reading Toews' A Complicated Kindness next. The right book at the right time makes it highly recommended with a rating of 4.
One thousand five hundred, that's the magic number. At least, it is for Mayor Hosea Funk when it comes to his town, Algren, Manitoba. Algren's claim to fame is its rank as Canada's smallest town, a title that incites both pride and constant angst for its eccentric mayor. Motivated by the Prime Minister's pledge to visit the smallest Canadian town, Hosea Funk tallies births, deaths and all other arrivals and departures to make sure the population hovers at 1,500 -- less than that and the town becomes a village, more and the town might lose its title. Enter Knute Corea-McCloud. A single mom returning home to Algren from the big city, Knute takes a job in the mayor's office and soon finds herself entangled in his schemes. But keeping the population at an even 1,500 is easier said than done, especially when citizens threaten to leave, the father of Knute's daughter threatens to move back, and Hosea's lady friend pressures him to commit. Then there's the rumour that a local woman might give birth to triplets, and it looks like Mayor Hosea's plan is on the verge of turning into a shamble. A sweet, funny story about finding out where one belongs, A Boy of Good Breeding is Miriam Toews's second novel. First published by Stoddart in 1998, it was revised and released in paperback in Canada by Vintage in 2005.


"Algren was Canada's smallest town. It really was. Canada's Smallest Town. It said so on a big old billboard right outside the town limits and Knute had checked with one of those government offices in the blue pages and they said fifteen hundred is what you need for a town. And that's what Algren had." pg. 1

"So Knute worried, from time to time, about S.F. bursting into flames for no apparent reason. And that was the type of concern she couldn't really explain to people, even close friends, without having them asking her if she needed a nap or what she'd been reading lately or just plain laughing at her." pg. 2

"Anyway, it was a lot better than pumping gas. The one time Knute tried that she accidently filled up a motor home with gas - not the gas tank, but the interior of the motor home itself. She had accidently stuck the nozzle into the water-spout hole instead of the gas tank hole." pg. 5

"So Veronica says seeing how she went to so much work to have these three babies, she should at least be able to name one of them. Makes sense to me, right, but you know Gord her husband always does the naming, he's that kind of guy. And he likes names like Ed and Chuck and Dirk and Todd, you know, names that sound like farts." pg. 99

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