R. G. Moyles
It is, I suppose, decidedly unfair to compare the first novel of a young new writer with the acclaimed classic of a master storyteller, but Kevin Major's Hold Fast brought me so often into remembered contact with Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn that a comparison (or at least a referential glossing) became unavoidable. Such a comparison, in fact, tells us much about Major's technique and purpose and, lest the reader be apprehensive on this point, does nothing to devalue this young Newfoundland author's achievement.
Anyone who has read Huckleberry Finn cannot, for example, fail to see just how much alike Huck Finn and Michael (Major's protagonist) are. Both are physical and spiritual orphans treading the hard road to self-awareness; Michael, like Huck, is unsure of himself, stubborn ("pig-headed" Michael calls it), given to lying and to fits of self-pity and remorse; and even when a degree of self-awareness is attained there is always that shadow of doubt. How similar they are, and how close Major comes to achieving Twain's poignancy through his first-person naive narrator can be seen in a juxtaposition of the key (climactic) passages in the novels. Huck Finn, in that famous bout with his conscience [when he debates whether or not to do the "right thing" and alert the owner of Jim as to where the runaway slave can be found], comes to grips with his lying…. Michael, after having hitched a ride with an old man (in a chapter which is both...
(The entire section is 609 words.)