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Finnie Walsh

Cover of Finnie Walsh

Finnie Walsh

Steven Galloway's first novel, an incredible coming of age story, now revised and available in trade paperback from Vintage Canada.Finnie Walsh is a captivating, Irving-esque story of family,...
Steven Galloway's first novel, an incredible coming of age story, now revised and available in trade paperback from Vintage Canada.Finnie Walsh is a captivating, Irving-esque story of family,...
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Description-
  • Steven Galloway's first novel, an incredible coming of age story, now revised and available in trade paperback from Vintage Canada.

    Finnie Walsh is a captivating, Irving-esque story of family, friendship, redemption, and legend.

    Paul Woodward lives in Portsmouth, a quiet northern mill-town. Born the day Paul Henderson planted the puck between the pipes against the Soviet Union to win the 1972 Super Series, Paul has no choice about playing hockey. His best friend Finnie Walsh is stinking rich. He is also fellow hockey fanatic and the only good kid in a long line of delinquent brothers. Paul's father works the nightshift at the local mill, owned by Finnie's father. One fateful day the boys noisily prepare for their first season of hockey in the Woodward driveway, keeping Paul's father awake when he should be sleeping. This triggers a chain of world-altering events. Galloway proves that childhood innocence, while not exactly bliss, can be amusing and more than mildly instructional. This is the book John Irving would have written if he understood hockey as well as wrestling. Finnie Walsh, like the fabled games before NHL expansion, is a story about greatness and legend. But it's also a heartsong to family, friendship, and atonement.

    From the Trade Paperback edition.
Excerpts-
  • From the book

    First Period Finnie Walsh will forever remain in my daily thoughts, not only because of the shocking circumstances of his absurd demise, but because he managed to misunderstand what was truly important even though he was right about almost everything else. Finnie Walsh taught me that those in need of redemption are rarely those who become redeemed.

    Finnie Walsh's parents owned more than half of Portsmouth, the mill town of 30,000 where Finnie and I grew up. I still remember the startled look on my father's face the first time he peered out the front window and saw me in the driveway shooting pucks with his boss' youngest son. My father's concern was not motivated by fear for Finnie's safety; Finnie Walsh, a strawberry-blond, freckled boy with stubby fingers and slate-grey eyes, was not at all frail. He was of a sturdier than average build for a child his age, almost pudgy in a cheerful sort of way, and was only small when compared with his father and three older brothers, who were gigantic.

    Mr. Walsh had felt that Finnie would benefit from some toughening up, so instead of sending him to the all-boys' prep school that his brothers and most of the other children of Portsmouth's wealthier citizens attended, Finnie was enrolled in Portsmouth Public School. It was there, in September of 1980, packed into Mrs. Sweeney's third-grade classroom, that my friendship with Finnie Walsh began.

    For four generations, the Walsh family had been Portsmouth's main employer. My father was the most recent in a long line of men named Robert Woodward to work in the Walsh family sawmill. The older I got, the more I understood how much my father wanted me to break the cycle and work somewhere else. With this in mind, my father insisted that I not be named Robert. "Our family," he often said, "is stuck in a rut."

    When I met Finnie Walsh, I was too young to realize that we weren't supposed to be friends. It didn't take long for Finnie and me, thrust together in the back row of Mrs. Sweeney's alphabetically ordered classroom, to become inseparable. We each had substantial hockey card collections, although we were at odds about which cards were valuable and which were not.

    My favourite player was Wayne Gretzky, who had just begun his second season in the NHL. Finnie's favourite player was Peter Stastny, a Czechoslovakian rookie with the Quebec Nordiques.

    "Gretzky's okay, I guess, if you like that sort of thing. I think he's flashy," Finnie said.

    If there was one thing Finnie Walsh didn't like, it was "flash." It was for this very reason that we ended up playing hockey in my driveway that day instead of the much larger and smoother driveway leading up to the Walsh estate. Finnie agreed that his driveway was in all ways superior to mine; he just didn't want to play there.

    The Walsh house was very flashy. It was situated in the middle of a seven-acre lot overlooking the river. Upstream from the mill, of course. The grounds were surrounded by an imposing wrought-iron fence. In many ways the house resembled the American White House, except that it was made of brick. Fountains, benches and a gazebo dotted a magnificently manicured lawn surrounded by an excess abundance of flowers. Mrs. Walsh had been an avid gardener. She had died when Finnie was a baby, but as a tribute to his late wife Mr. Walsh hired an extra gardener to maintain the flowerbeds.

    The first time Finnie and I played hockey in my driveway, we didn't even have a net. I drew one on our garage door with chalk and for a while we just passed the ball back and forth, taking the odd shot. My father was working the night shift that week and every time we scored...

About the Author-
  • STEVEN GALLOWAY is the author of three novels: Finnie Walsh, Ascension, and The Cellist of Sarajevo. His work has been translated into over twenty languages and optioned for film. He teaches creative writing at UBC and SFU, and he lives with his wife and two daughters in New Westminster, BC.

Reviews-
  • Quill & Quire

    "A terrific first novel, brilliantly conceived and inventively executed, with a power house of an ending that resonates long after the book is finished -- a stunning accomplishment from a young writer who deserves a close look."

  • Georgia Straight "An eminently readable and warmly witty debut with a seamless narrative and a sucker-punch ending."
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    Knopf Canada
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