The Confessions of Nipper Mooney

Winner of the 2002 Newfoundland and Labrador Book Award for Fiction.

Nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

Shortlisted for the 2002 Winterset Award for "excellence in Newfoundland writing."

On a day when a dazzling morning sun invites him out into the green meadows of Kildura, Nipper Mooney experiences both the phenomenon of lost time and the death of his father. These mysteries frame this vibrant first novel. Set in a farming community adjacent to St. John's, Newfoundland, The Confessions of Nipper Mooney is a rich evocation of life in the 1950s and '60s. Searching and sensitive, Nipper is full of questions about everything from fairy lore to the nature of the souls of trout and horses. He finds a kindred spirit in Brendan, Kildura's loner and mystic.

But this story is far from a rural idyll. Nipper's mother, feeling the need for both a solid education and male role models, sends him off to All Angels, a St. John's school run by the Christian Brothers. Here, Nipper struggles with an education system deeply rooted in draconian discipline and steeped in the kind of Catholicism that leads him to more and more questions. In this claustrophobic and often violent world, Nipper survives by becoming a reader and dreamer, and by developing a scrappy toughness.

Ed Kavanagh peoples Nipper's world with an unforgettable cast of characters. There is Paddy Dunne, the master fisherman and calligrapher lost in All Angels' academic conundrums. There is Aunt Mona, with her passions for cards before the Rosary and for naming the best in all categories of human endeavour. There is the scapegoat Darrell, mysteriously always late for school. And there is Brigid Flynn, smart, tough-spiriteded, the girl who moves through Nipper's fascinations with mystery and religion, leading him to both comparisons with St. Brigid and meetings in a hayloft.

This is a story of coming of age in a constantly changing world, where all inclinations toward gentleness are countered by the need to survive. Full of vivid characters and written with wit, humour and a playwright's ear for dialogue, The Confessions of Nipper Mooney is a compelling story that charts an original course through the beauties and horrors of childhood.

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Ed Kavanagh, Mount Pearl, NL, Canada    Phone: 709-364-6386   email