The Life and Times of Captain N.


Douglas Glover

“Passionately intricate . . . . Brilliantly re-invents the history of a new nation’s inner life: what was forged, what was lost, and what might yet be regained.” — Chicago Tribune

“The narrative is by turns funny, erotic, appalling, and haunting. . . This vividly imagined novel portrays the American Revolution unforgettably as regional nightmare rather than national epic. Highly recommended.” — Library Journal

“Its language is so sharp, so evocative, that the reader sees well beyond the tissue of words into a forbidding life called the past . . . It is brutal and violent, and all the light to be found in it comes from the author’s poetic grace.” — The New Yorker

“Darkly humorous, simultaneously restless and relentless in its patterning of voices and imagery, this is a close study of individuals trapped by a world in flux: a chaotic view of a new world order from the standpoint of the losers.” — Kirkus Reviews

“A venture into a haunting era . . . Glover has written a wonderful portrait of a young mind [Oskar] made for history’s certainties and shattered by its brutal ambiguities.” — The Los Angeles Times

“It is this command [of language] — evidenced also in the sardonic humour that informs the narrative — that marks Glover as one of the most important Canadian writers of his generation.” — Philip Marchand, The Toronto Star (17 April 1993)

“Enough scatological realism and explosive violence to rip the lid off any notions about the quaintness of frontier life . . . a forcefully imaginative work.” — Maclean’s

“Dark, funny, exuberantly violent . . . It’s a tale that will smack readers up-side the head like a warrior’s club and leave old preconceptions about historical fiction in a muddied, bloodied heap . . . A work of art.” — Quill & Quire

cover image Captain N M&S“A poetic horror . . . a hellish world of shifting realities where the only constant is pain . . . It delineates in a welter of words, often poetic but always brutal, the horrors that human beings inflict on one another and themselves.” — The Calgary Herald

A world shot through with violent mysticism . . . No fresh-faced idealism here, no platitudes, no tired old saws about liberty or death, but a stinking, festering free-fall into a war that in its own way was just as horrific and mindless as anything happening today in Bosnia.” — The Hamilton Spectator

“A whirlwind worth riding . . . A splendid, harrowing whirlwind of a tale, a book that somehow manages to be horrifying and hilariously grotesque and sumptuous, carnal and pensive — all without ever ceasing to be a great, full-bodied story. The writing is as sharp as nails. The words seem hammered to the page . . . A pell-mell narrative inquiry into the nature of meaning, the decline of faith, and the ascendance of reason. This is a profoundly thoughtful book . . . At once crazy, funny, and wise, this is a book to make you dizzy with horror — and delight.”— Oakland Ross, The Globe and Mail

“Glover tells wonderful, complex stories, and like many post-modern novels, his book continues to expand, resisting closure and completion. For as Oskar muses, one ‘could write a whole book and there would be nothing in it but questions.’” — Andy James, Kingston Whig-Standard Companion

“Glover, with his own potent eye and ear, enables the reader to see and hear and smell and touch the way it was to be alive at our beginning two centuries ago . . . What will keep readers turning the pages is Glover’s mastery of language, the way he has managed not only to furnish his book with pioneer décor, but to infuse it with the lusts and terrors and dreams that filled the North American white mind two centuries ago.” — George Galt, Books in Canada

“An exhilarating challenge to my essential linear sensibilities . . . a very accomplished book . . . I suspect that posterity is going to select The Life and Times of Captain N. as one of the seminal novels of our time, given that Douglas Glover has achieved a stunning synthesis of historical evocation and literary invention.” — Paul Steuwe, Books in Canada

cover image Captain N“Without compromising the visceral immediacy of the narrative, Glover skilfully sustains motifs . . . that help elevate his spare prose toward poetry . . . an intense, satisfying book.” — The Vancouver Sun

“An unconventional version of historical voice . . . an astonishing jabber that absorbs you with its intelligence . . . Occasionally scabrous, terrifically funny, intermittently appalling, sometimes frightening. A thoroughly convincing world of its own making, it also leaves you persuaded that here, truly, is how the past was. It’ll give you a pleasurable headache of recognition and wonderment.” — Stephen Smith, The Financial Post

“Immediately compelling . . . Visceral imagery that’s still cool enough to curdle the blood….  Glover’s hallucinatory world exists as it does in the mind’s eye with nary a detail out of context . . . It’s hard to slot this story of early America in the historical novel category. Leave it somewhere in dreamtime, because the best tales transcend their time and place to speak to readers in any age.” — The Edmonton Journal (Roger Levesque, 16 May 1993)

“Dreamlike . . . confounds as it allures. Glover’s novel hovers between utopian vision and nightmare. His mastery of form and language transforms this historical fiction into a post-modern novel, which manifests the shining face of literary brilliance while it exposes the dark shadow of European presence in North America, and the even darker shadows within us all. . . . Glover’s novel is an event in Canadian publishing, a work of grace and substance.” — Patricia Whitney, The Ottawa Citizen; The Medicine Hat News

“Fascinating and powerful . . . [a] brilliant tour de force.” — The Kitchener-Waterloo Record

“[The Life and Times of Captain N.] is the kind of novel that transcends its own characters and plot, that rises above the historical events on which it is based. It doesn’t so much describe or explain or detail as provide a glimpse into the mystery that surrounds all human life.” — The Halifax Daily News

“An outstanding work of art by a brilliant writer . . . an unforgettable picture of the human side of the conflict.” — The Port Hope Evening Guide

Douglas Glover“With The Life and Times of Captain N., [Glover] has crossed the threshold of the linguistic magicians . . . [he] surprises us by making his mysterious characters knowable, at no sacrifice to their appeal as exotics. His book is a none-too-thinly veiled commentary on the Loyalist origins of the English Canadian middle class.” — Douglas Fetherling, The Danforth Report

“This utterly extraordinary work even mocks the forward-backward quality of history itself . . . an exquisitely written novel, and unforgettable.” — Allan Gould, The Western Star (Cornerbrook NF); The Lethbridge Herald; The Belleville Intelligencer

“What is most striking about this novel is its originality. The strangely erotic and violent passages force the reader to rethink how this country was settled.” — The Simcoe Reformer

“This is the kind of novel that transcends its own characters and plot, that rises above the historical events on which it is based and reaches an enviable universality. It . . . provides a glimpse into the basic mystery that surrounds all human life, the dumb, wordless fear that grips us all. And, in so doing, it manages to turn upside-down our familiar and comfortable notions of war, of family, of progress, and of the people who first inhabited the so-called New World.” — Event

“Glover is unquestionably one of Canada’s finest: an unusually erudite writer whose psychic filtering system seems to have malfunctioned, leaving him with the wide-open perceptions of a seer or madman.” Ann Diamond, Matrix

“Brilliantly captures the chaos of the period . . . Glover’s energetic and strikingly visual prose does harrowing justice to the pervasive but wholly nongratuitous scenes of remorseless violence and torture. What prevents the reader from being smothered by the book’s essential nihilism is the formidable intelligence that underlies every page.” — Canadian Book Review Annual

“A strange and savage history. Dream-like, disturbing, exquisitely written.” — David Macfarlane

“A strange and savage fictional account . . . mysterious, mystical and thoroughly original.” — Owen Sound Sun-Times

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