$16.95 (pb) 978-1-897317-35-8, 176 pp. Flanker Press, October 2009
Fish for Dinner is a new Newfoundland classic. This wonderful collection of tales should grace every Newfoundlander’s book shelf. In the tradition of Aesop or the Brother’s Grimm, the stories are written in a lyrical tone that places the reader around a campfire or at a grandparent’s knee wrapped in tales from long ago.
With the tales so engrossing, and so convincingly set in rural Newfoundland, it was almost disappointing to learn they did not originate on the rock. The stories are instead are a collection of oral traditions from around the globe. Author Paul O’Neill has masterfully placed them, not only in Newfoundland and Labrador communities, but at the heart of the provinces unique culture and traditions.
Whether walking with a lonely Inuk woman in Northern Labrador, swimming with a young sea captain or drying cod with a local fisherman, O’Neill proves the oldest and best stories are truly universal. His skilful way of weaving the tale into the very fabric of the land leaves the reader ready for more. His yarns explain why the weasel turns brown in the spring and why the Northern Lights seem to dance and they give a universal charm to a unique part of Canada.
With tales like ‘How Finbar Beat Old Scratch’ and ‘The Good Merchant,’ Fish for Dinner is a rich read. Despite the imported and redesigned stories, these tales give the reader the flavour and feel of Newfoundland history. It is a must read for any Newfoundlander. —Megan Venner