Miriam Toews’ Fight Night is written as a series of letters authored by nine-year-old Swiv and her elderly grandmother Elvira. Swiv mostly writes to the father who abandoned her, while Elvira writes to her unborn grandson, Gord—soon to be Swiv’s younger brother.
The novel is formatted in long paragraphs with no punctuation to delineate the dialogue. It is clear Toews is a strong writer who can craft a compelling narrative, but the stream-of-consciousness style wasn’t for me. It required a great deal of work to parse the voice of a nine-year-old, and while some may find that charming, I did not. I suppose Toews could be attempting to parallel how hard it is to grow up and live a happy life by making the reading of her book so challenging, but that parallel didn’t land in a positive way for me.
That said, the three generations in the novel—Swiv, her pregnant mother, and no-more-cares-to-give grandmother Elvira—do live a life that can be interesting at times. The descriptive detail was lacking to the point of making it hard to picture the world in which they live and the characters themselves. The ending was entirely predictable given the conceit of the letters, and while it did take the position that growing up is tough for everyone, that universal truth was not rendered in a compelling way.
|Page Count||272 pages|
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