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Alligator    by Lisa Moore order for
by Lisa Moore
Order:  USA  Can
Groundwood, 2005 (2005)
* *   Reviewed by Michael Graves

Lisa Moore, an exciting new Canadian author from Newfoundland, is capturing literary laurels with her recent novel, Alligator. Short listed for the 2005 Giller prize the novel has also won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for the Canadian and Caribbean region.

The acclaim is well deserved. Of particular note is the author's keen sense of observation and absorbing detail, where little things come alive in a lyrical style. For example, in a moment of contemplation two people look at the tossing of a napkin - 'They both watched it unscrunch on the table. The napkin opened like a flower blooming in a time-lapse film'.

The story is initially centered on Colleen, a young seventeen-year-old eco-terrorist, who in her own unique way sets about a strategy to save the Newfoundland pine martin, an endangered species. But it is the world around Colleen that captures most of the book's attention. There are wondrous characters, with brilliantly conceived and subtle interactions that we recognize as the book evolves. There is a craving to probe some of the characters deeper, but the dynamics of the book are such that short chapters take us through a series of events, displaying a myriad of human drives and emotions.

The book has an intriguing plot but it is the characters that stay with you. You're left after finishing Alligator with a sense of wanting more. More of the tiny observations of life, the poetry and the rich stylistic view this author has of the everyday world around her. I eagerly anticipate Moore's next work.

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