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.
Shortlisted: Dartmouth Book Award
Shortlisted: Amazon.ca/Books in Canada First Novel Award
Shortlisted: Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic Fiction Prize
"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
Pub date: May 1, 2001