There are few writers I admire as much as I do David Adams Richards. His books are deeply morale and compassionate. His prose has echoes and rhythms you rarely see these days -- there is something of the King James version of the Bible in his language. I read a few reviews that panned the book because the reviewer found the language 'difficult'. Good Lord, is that what we've come to? So sad. I, for one, fell into every sentence, in this book as I have in the other books of Richards I've read. Yes, this is a hard book, in that it is hard subject matter about hard men (with surprisingly vulnerabilities), in a hard world (that of 1950s logging camps), doing unspeakably hard work. It is also a hard book to put down, a hard book to forget, a hard book (I admit it) not to weep over. I won't go into the plot of the book, you can read the flap copy for that. But I will say that Richards explores his familiar themes -- what makes a person 'good' (I am reminded of Iris Murdoch, who was once asked what themes she wrote about; she responded, "I only ever write about one thing: how to be good."), what brings about someone's downfall, and how we are all, in one way or another, connected, complicit, responsible for our neighbors, those "friends of Meager Fortune." Meager Fortune, by the way, is the BRILLIANT name of one of the characters.Perhaps Richards himself sums up the theme of this book best in a line Fortune speaks: ". . . men have rid themselves of God, and are famished, and therefore do terrible things to make such famine go away." And later, "Another scandal started because of our famine. To fill up our souls with the trinkets of life, instead of with life itself." Has the word 'trinket' ever felt so perfect, sound so tinny and cheap and worthless?The world Richards creates -- as always -- that of the Miramachi region of Canada's New Brunswick Province, this time the world of mid-twentieth century loggers, is perfect -- every smell, sound, sight, taste and touch. It is a harsh and heartbreaking and filled with a thousand it-might-have-beens. He's a brave writer -- tackling complex themes, and expecting his reader to be able to rise to the occasion. For all of that, I was completely wrapped up in the story, turning pages fast, and staying up long past my bedtime to find out what happens next.It is, in short, a book I wish I'd written myself, and certainly one which will inspire me.