Monday, January 30, 2017
Thoughts on NO GREAT MISCHIEF by Alistair MacLeod
NO GREAT MISCHIEF is a novel of change, the ending of tribal roots through intermarriage, the gap that emerges between siblings with a college education and without.
Alistair MacLeod writes with a grace and warmth that is a pleasure to read; the kind of a book enjoyed with a cup of tea or a glass of wine.
MacLeod’s characters are living in the late twentieth century in Canada while eighteenth century Scotland is a dominant presence in their memories; they still speak Gaelic as well as English. They are part of the MacDonald clan, driven by the English from the Highlands of Scotland to Cape Breton 200 hundred years ago.
The protagonist and his sister, who grew up in the care of their grandparents in a loving home and are well-educated, break the links to ancient Scotland by marrying outsiders. They have suburban lives of material comfort.
Their uneducated siblings are doomed to the dangerous and drone jobs of the blue collar working class. One is a wild man, who ignores the restraints of society, the little ones like driving without a license and the more serious of deadly brawls; he ends up in prison and as a drunk without a real home or his own family (meaning a mate and children).
I would love to read another novel by MacLeod, but he wrote only one, NO GREAT MISCHIEF, and died in 2014.