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As Near to Heaven By Sea - Kevin Major As Near to Heaven by Sea
A History of Newfoundland & Labrador

Kevin Major

Price: CDN$24.95
ISBN: 0140278648
Published: August 2002
Published by Penguin Books

Book Description
Newfoundland and Labrador is like no other part of North America. Discover the reasons why.

For three centuries after Europeans rediscovered it, Newfoundland was thought of as little more than 'a Great English Ship moored near the banks during the Fishing Season'. Labrador, dismissed as that 'land God gave to Cain' commanded no more respect, But for the people who made its coastline their home, including the aboriginal peoples who first settled there nine thousand years earlier, Newfoundland and Labrador was of vastly greater significance. In the people who propelled its history - Leif Eiriksson, James Cook, Black Bart, Joey Smallwood, Amelia Earheart, Shanawdithit, d'Iberville, Audobon, and Marconi, to name but a handful of the better known - are to be found a wealth of daring adventure and limitless imagination.

Newfoundland and Labrador share a history that is anything but genteel. Scandal was tempered by remarkable feats of courage, distaste by extraordinary acts of creativity. And that history spans millennia: beginning with the ritual burial of a Maritime Archaic child and ending at the dawn of the twenty-first century, with Viking landings, the exploits of Basque whalers, centuries of military and religious strife, confederation with Canada, and countless other events sandwiched in between. Kevin Major captures it all - the triumphs and the setbacks, the accomplishments and the defeats - in exciting vivid prose.

An excerpt from the book:
" Near the Azores Gilbert ran into a fierce storm. The last recorded sight of the man who claimed Newfoundland for England had him sitting in the stern of the Squirrel, a book in his hand, calling to another of the ships, one fated to survive. 'We are as near to heaven by sea as by land!' he bellowed. At midnight, Gilbert, and his dream of returning to Newfoundland with colonists to reap its wealth, sank into the Atlantic. "

About the Author
Kevin Major was born on September 12, 1949, five months after Newfoundland became the tenth province of Canada. He grew up next to an American Air Force base in Stephenville, on the province's west coast.

His interest in writing in elementary school led to the creation of some dreadful poetry. In high school, his skills improved to the point where a teacher in Grade Ten predicted that he would write a book some day.

At graduation, however, he went off to study pre-med at Memorial University in St. John's. He was accepted for medical school, but turned it down. He wanted to see a bit of the world instead. He slept on a beach in Barbados, skied in Switzerland, saw the Gauguins in Paris.

He returned to Memorial University, and set his mind on becoming a teacher. He graduated and found work in several communities in rural Newfoundland. He was struck by the lack of material on the English curriculum reflecting the culture of his own province. The result was the editing of Doryloads, an anthology of Newfoundland writing.

From there he went on to writing of his own: first poetry and short stories, then a novel. It made the rounds of several publishers, but was finally shelved.

By this time he had settled in Eastport, in Bonavista Bay, Newfoundland. In 1976 he gave up teaching full-time to concentrate on writing, although he continued work as a substitute teacher for several years following.

He wrote Hold Fast and his life changed permanently. Over the years other novels followed, no two alike, yet most holding in some way to his Newfoundland roots.

He married and took on fatherhood. Eventually the Major family moved to St. John's. Here the author writes in view of Signal Hill, an interesting garden and a basketball net. He walks the streets of the oldest city in North America thinking about what he will write next.

More Books by Kevin Major

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