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Strong Hollow
Strong Hollow

Strong Hollow

280 pages
Newest edition published:   January 1, 2003
Fiction  /  Queer Lit  /  Novels
Paperback:   9780864923516    $19.99
First Edition Paperback:   9780864923080    $19.95

In her bold debut novel, Linda Little has crafted a story where music, creativity, and sexuality merge, as a young Nova Scotian carver embarks on a profound discovery of his sense of self. Strong Hollow tells the story of Jackson Bigney, a young man coping with a crippling past of repression, alcoholism, and poverty.

Failure seems built-in to Jackson's life. His father, a brutal man with a short fuse, despises his son, and Jackson's brothers thrive on drinking, violence and petty crime. Jackson finds solace only by carving tiny objects — acorns, field mice, bottle caps and leaves — as he has done since childhood. The day Jackson finds his father dead in a ditch beside the MacIntyre road is the day he begins his own metamorphosis. At nineteen, the seventh of nine children and the eldest still at home, Jackson seems predestined to follow in the feckless footsteps of his father. He becomes silent and empty, unable to feel or to articulate emotion.

Setting himself up as a bootlegger, Jackson builds a small cabin. He lives only in the present, expecting no more from life than work, alcohol and empty sex. One summer, Jackson meets Ian Sutherland, an accomplished fiddler and a powerful attraction develops between them. Twenty-nine and in love for the first time, Jackson feels alive with anticipation and fulfilment. Inevitably, at summer's end, Ian leaves and Jackson is shattered. Seeking to fill the void in this life, Jackson begins to restore a derelict fiddle. At a music shop in Halifax, he meets an accepting circle of friends. And as the fiddle takes shape, Jackson's perceptions of himself begin to change and he realizes that how the world sees you is how you come to see yourself.
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Linda Little's life has been unlike Jackson Bigney's in nearly every way. She grew up on a small farm in Hawkesbury, Ontario, and studied at Queen's University in Kingston and at Memorial University in St. John's. After a few months in English Harbour, on Trinity Bay, she moved to a small farm near River John, Nova Scotia. Like Jackson, she found she had little taste for farm chores; she quit raising cows and now keeps only pigs, chickens, and turkeys during the summer. Like Jackson, she, too, is a terrible fiddle player -- so terrible that she has been known to use her rendition of "Skye Boat Song" as revenge. Since childhood, Linda Little has been fascinated by the emotional life of men, especially the tenderness between comrades, both real and fictional. She has found these intense feelings all the more compelling because they are usually concealed and seldom glimpsed by others and has built much of her fiction on the exploration of what lies behind these moments. Strong Hollow is Linda Little's first novel. Her short fiction has previously appeared in literary journals and anthologies, including Descant, the Antigonish Review, and The Journey Prize Anthology.


Winner: Cunard First Book Award
Shortlisted: Dartmouth Book Award
Shortlisted: in Canada First Novel Award
Shortlisted: Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic Fiction Prize


"The novel's characters speak in the rough back-country cadences of the Maritimes and are toughened by the no-work, no-money, no-advantages limitations of rural Maritime life. Yes, these are 'typical' Maritimers, but in Little's care they transcend stereotypes." — Quill & Quire

"There are books that envelop you so soundly in their moody and definitive sense of place that you are literally lost for days, feel alien in your own world when you gaze up from the words. ...Strong Hollow is a darkly luminous, heart-rending book, a testament to how a family can damage and stymie the individual." — Globe and Mail

"Linda Little weaves a compassionate and compelling portrait of a family destroyed by poverty and ignorance, and the inarticulate, troubled son who finds a way to save himself ... [a] wonderfully kind and intelligent novel." — Ottawa Citizen

"Beautifully written, the novel demonstrates how courage can overcome DNA." — Books in Canada