2013 Finalist

George Bowering


Pinboyby George Bowering

Out of a single sunlit season in B.C.'s Okanagan in the mid-1950s, George Bowering has crafted a unique memoir of adolescence, of his adolescence, that is by turns charming and self-deprecating, funny and perceptive, raunchy and sensitive. Bowering reaches back almost 60 years to capture brilliantly the experience of a particular boy in a particular place and time, picking peaches and apples, setting pins at a bowling alley, immersed in western novels as a form of literary apprenticeship, constrained by the remnant Christian morals of the time.

But Pinboy is also a universal portrait of the pains and yearnings of the teenage years: family, future prospects, friends, an obsession with baseball and, especially, girls. And it is in the treatment of boy George's awakening interest in, and desire for, girls, that Bowering is at his best, and the memoir acquires a fine novelistic sheen. Three females dominate George's thoughts, all of them both specific and archetypal: the older schoolteacher, aptly named Miss Verge, who gradually inculcates him into the not guiltless pleasures of sex; the virginal girlfriend, Wendy, object of romantic desires and future plans; and the mysterious and wounded Jeanette, a sharp girl who stirs the St. George in Bowering„he imagines rescuing her but, clumsily and hilariously, ends up stalking her. And that is ultimately Pinboy's triumph, an old man looking back at what actually happened to him, what he fantasized could happen and how all that bursting sexual desire began to transform itself into something like empathy.

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