Border Songs, By Jim Lynch

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The Independent Culture

I'm being horribly subjective here, because Jim Lynch is a good writer with a left-field perspective and a humane touch, but I just couldn't bear the breathlessness of the prose in this novel. It seemed constantly to speed up until I was gasping for air by the end.

I appreciate that not all readers will feel the same way. Some will adore this tale of outsize patrol guard Brandon Vanderkool, who is a foot taller than everyone else in his small town, dyslexic and possibly autistic too. His ability to catch illegal immigrants sneaking across the Canada-US border should be mitigated by his desire to connect with people in some way – but in fact it's quite the opposite. He quickly becomes the most successful border guard they've ever had, though he doesn't seem to notice that his neighbour's daughter is helping to smuggle cannabis across the border. Meanwhile, his father is about to lose his farm and his mother is losing her mind. Yet Lynch brings loss and extraordinary bad luck back into the everyday to make it more manageable – which is no bad thing.