Deluded Your Sailors

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Deluded Your Sailors

Deluded Your Sailors
Killick Press
6 x 9
ISBN 13:
# of pages:
300 pages
Our Price
$ 21.95

Item Detail

  1. Overview
  2. About the Author
  3. Testimonials
  4. Excerpt
  • Overview

    eBook available at...      

    Are we the product of our past, or a miserable result, like a floating corpse or toxic waste? Is the past an hallucination, or are some things certain and secure? And just whose past is it?

    In deluded your sailors, Michelle Butler Hallett brings her wry humour and imagination to two distinct and interwoven stories, embracing both the eighteenth-century New World and contemporary Newfoundland and Labrador. Past and present spark off each other to ignite whirling fires in the lives of her flawed and darkly-drawn characters.

    It's 2009, and battered but perceptive Nichole Wright, a beginning novelist, scores a commission to write a play for a heavily-funded tourism project. With her customary swift bad luck, she discovers documents that will derail the whole project, and she pursues the research with a vicious dedication that hides how fast she's running, and what she's running from. Nichole’s got fierce competition from her equally off-kilter friends and acquaintances for the who’s-the-most-wounded award. Evan Rideout, a military animator, must balance history with dementia as he struggles to look after both his deteriorating grandfather and his boss, a highly-placed and comically inept bureaucrat in the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation. Pompous and menacing Reverend Elias Winslow, increasingly determined to interfere with Nichole’s work, behaves in ways that aren’t quite human, and troubled actor Seth Seabright behaves in ways that cause outright chaos.

    The narrative unearthed by Nichole is the story of an early eighteenth-century girl, daughter of an unnamed prostitute, who reinvents herself as circumstances require, in turns victim, spy, and captain of a Salem trading vessel. Her threadbare disguise is ripped apart when her unacknowledged past meets her tenuous present. Finally forced to reveal many things kept hidden, she refuses to be exploited any further, but such defiance comes at great cost.

    This parallel storytelling echoes Nichole Wright’s fight to save herself from folly as she dares to open her eyes to the suffering, and the meaning, of others.

    Staring down abuse, identity, friendship, and greed, deluded your sailors is a startling story of violence, loss and love.


  • About the Author

    One of Canada’s most courageous and original literary voices, Michelle Butler Hallett was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Her work, at once striking, memorable and difficult to categorize, has been praised by Books in Canada for “economy and power,” while The Globe and Mail notes that “demons are at work – the kind that lurk in the subconscious and surface, depending on the individual, as either despairing visions or acts of outright brutality.” Her first novel, Double-blind, was shortlisted for the 2007 Sunburst Award, while Sky Waves was praised as “both raucously funny and deeply troubling” and  “a dynamic and shape-shifting work that redefines the project of storytelling.”  Butler Hallett lives in St. John’s.

  • Testimonials



    Sky Waves is a dynamic and shape-shifting work that redefines the project of storytelling, which complicates oral/aural tradition ... both raucously funny and deeply troubling as it delves courageously into Newfoundland’s many-faced identity. Sky Waves mobilizes the cinematic: we find ourselves investing personally in each character, trying to hold on to them in memory until they reappear, potentially in another time, another place. The elusive characters are nevertheless compelling, for their radio silences are punctuated with our developing relationship with them: we yearn for their return from the past or future, hoping that they might give us the key to the novel, a desire Sky Waves intentionally never satisfies. When they do come to the fore, they are painfully bright and neurotic, sharp with wit and experience, and even malice. Others are cast in warm soft-focus, threatening to retreat into the past before we get what we want from them; dead before they can speak for themselves, their loss haunts us like a voice we can’t quite make out. When we do, Butler Hallett’s characters come to life actively, fighting for air time. Their humor betrays generations of pain, and yet their pains are so incredibly human that frequently we can’t help but laugh.   Maple Tree Literary Supplement


    Butler Hallett is not afraid to take chances with genre or format. The convolutions in the plotlines are clarified by writing that is imaginative and uncluttered ... there are scenes of violence, psychological descent and physical degradation that are frank and unflinching. At the same time, Butler Hallett is often very funny.  The Telegram



    DOUBLE-BLIND, shortlisted for the 2007 Sunburst Award


    Butler Hallett’s own weapons are subtly deployed in this convincing human drama. Her characters are thorough and striking, and her book is replete with aspects of horror, mystery, and hospital thriller, while transcending the conventions of mere genre. The descriptions of medical procedures are impressive in their detail, but the book avoids “going textbook” on the reader. In fact, Hallett’s voice often surprisingly, pleasantly veers to the poetic. The Vietnam vets are described as “each rotting in his own illness.” Giving electroconvulsive therapy to one terrified kid, Bozeman discovers, within the child’s psyche, “some brittle landscape, hard fruit on the ground.” Both Bozeman and Hallett dare to go beyond the accepted – in both cases, to impressively terrifying results. Quill and Quire


    Double-blind is wonderfully original while chillingly based in history. It really shook us up. Through the chronically self-deceived mind of the narrator, the novel delves into profound questions of ethics in a morally ambiguous world, and comes up with tragically ironic answers. The writing is incredibly layered, with metaphor and symbol perfectly balanced against the hard neutrality of scientific language.   Sunburst Award Jury.


    “skill and confidence ...economy and power” – Books in Canada



  • Excerpt

    Dust flew with each human movement, and as Nichole’s eyes adjusted to the dark, she saw Elias Winslow wipe the space immediately before his face the way he might wipe an obscured window. Then he clicked an object free of his belt and gave it to Nichole.

    A very old knife.

    —Dear girl, what happened to your hands?

    —Why are you giving me a knife?

    —Ever been to sea, Nichole?

    She snorted. Yes now, twenty-first century Newfoundlander raised in the city on Canadian and American television, Toronto, Bangor and Detroit. No dialect allowed in the house, fish rarely eaten, let alone ever handled. Out on the water every day, sure. Cue Frank Zappa: townie girl, she’s a townie girl. —I get seasick.

    —Answer my question.

    Just like a kitten a-gnawin fresh fish. We’ll rant and we’ll roar...  —Once, my grandfather Wright took me out, for a treat. Because I behaved so nicely. Some friend of his had a yacht. Just him and a bunch of other old men.

    Socks rolled down. Dirty nails and bad breath. I got so sick. Kept crying and swallowing back the snot. Only made it worse. But that’s all.

    (Let’s get you cleaned up down there, Nichole)

    —Can you remember, Nichole?


    —Do you remember, Nichole.

    (on deck and below) —No! Reverend Winslow, I’m really tired, and I drove all the way out here from town –

    —Why do you think you dreamt of this knife?

    Nichole turned the knife over in her palm, trying to see it better by the laptop’s light. Here, in the dark with some strange and quite likely crazy dude sporting a robe of God, it seemed safe to speak.

    —Because I had to defend myself.

    —A nice girl from a family like yours?

    Nichole gagged.

    Reverend Winslow stood behind her now, holding back her long hair as she leant forward to vomit. Not old bile and curdled ice milk but a clump of old wounded flesh, needles of pine and spruce, and something shiny. Whitish liquid oozed from it, formed a puddle.

    Elias Winslow drew an old blanket round Nichole’s shoulders. —It’s a bezoar. A combination of things you’ve swallowed but couldn’t digest. People once thought them antidotes for all poisons. That one is very old; it has wanted to come up for some time. Now tell me. And be honest. Why did you come out here?

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We acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF), and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador through the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation for our publisihng program.

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