Friday, November 06, 2009

Daniel O'Thunder, by Ian Weir

Ian Weir is a very fine Vancouver playwright who's just released a fascinating new novel. In his email, he wrote "this one was a labour of love -- the central character is a kind of cockeyed Dickensian Christ figure, and in its way the novel deals with questions of faith." Local bookstore, here I come!

A rollicking, comic and ultimately haunting tale of fist-fighting, faith and fine madness
by Ian Weir

In the 1850s, in the slums of the great city of London, Daniel O’Thunder, a troubled but charismatic former prize-fighter turned evangelist, runs a safe house for those in need of food, shelter, prayer and good counsel. But in London’s dark streets, an ancient evil is wreaking havoc, throwing into peril the lives of its most vulnerable souls. O’Thunder, getting on in years but still wielding a right fist dubbed “The Hammer of Heaven”, returns to the ring to start training for his greatest fight yet – with the Devil himself.

Surrounding O’Thunder is a strange collection of people who love him: Jack, a spectacularly failed cleric and worse actor who is the compiler of O’Thunder’s story; J.T.”Jaunty” Rennert, one-time recruiting sergeant, shady small-time operator and O’Thunder’s self-styled best friend; and Nell, the gold-hearted, foul-mouthed young prostitute who ultimately carries her love for O’Thunder into the wilds of the Cariboo gold-rush in faraway British Columbia, where the novel reaches its extraordinary apotheosis.

Daniel O’Thunder is a novel of amazing wealth of character and variety of voice. Comedy bumps up against cruelty, tragedy against farce, inhumanity against love—a dazzling debut that is hilarious, harrowing, and deeply moving.

Douglas & McIntyre

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