On the Eighth Day
On On the Eighth Day, Antonine Maillet imagines a solution to the world's problems: a wider and more exuberant world, with its right more left and its left more right, created on "the day when everything is dared and anything is possible." She spins a tale of two brothers — a giant carved from an oak tree and a scamp shaped out of bread dough — born one remarkable night when magic made wishes come true. Thrilled to have a son to call their own, Mr. Goodman and Mrs. Goodwife play favourite and bicker over which creation is the better child, causing a rift in the family.
To ease the fighting, John-Bear and Big-as-a-Fist decide to set off to seek their fortunes. But first they must visit their godmother, Clara-Galante, to receive their inheritance. A witch who lives deep in the woods, she gives them three wishes and some kind words, before sending the heroes "out into the world to follow their curious destiny beyond the hills on the horizon," left foot first for good luck.
Wending their way through unforgettable lands — the Timeless Village, the Upside-Down Town, the Path of the Vicious Circle — the lads make many strange friends, who, peculiar as they are, seem strangely familiar. But, wherever Life leads them, Death lurks close behind.
A wonderful picaresque akin to a cheerful Gulliver's Travels, a comic Pilgrim's Progress or an Acadian Wizard of Oz, On the Eighth Day is a fast-moving tale starring richly developed characters in a funny and poignant road story in which allegory gains power by taking a back seat to enchantment.
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