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Travels, Tricks & Storytelling: The Power of the Oral Tradition in Lorne Elliott’s The Goat in the Tree

goat in the tree elliottApril is a month of mischief and trickery. It forecasts this from the start— the first day of the month is, after all, April Fools’ Day. But as April 1st saunters in, throws its pranks and tricks like confetti, we expect it to make its exit and make way for a more predictable month.

This isn’t always the case— the whole month of April often proves to have a mercurial nature and a knack for playing tricks on us. Somehow, despite the blooming spring, we feel colder than in February. Despite the promising sunshine, it is wetter and rainier than in November. Overall, the one thing we can expect is to be constantly surprised by the unexpected tricks April has up its sleeve.

And what better time to delve into a book whose hero is so spunky he’ll make you fall in love with hoaxes and pranks, than in April, the month that comes back every year to horse around and make merry with its trickery?

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Lorne Elliott’s The Goat in the Tree follows the adventures of a protagonist who weaves his good fortune and disentangles his troubles with his fabulous stories— all made up, though all carrying a glimmer of truth despite factual inaccuracies.

His gift of storytelling turns him into a master trickster, as he travels through Morocco and France in pursuit of an audience for his stories and his next meal. He proves to be the master of changing identities and he moves between them seamlessly. He is Max, Charles, Eric. He is a Moroccan tour guide, a translator, a professor, a performer. In the midst of all of his tricks, he is a man who falls in love. But not without getting into trouble and without learning that there is a thin line between a story that is enriching and one that is destructive.

Through the protagonist’s constant fabrications, which excite and inspire his audiences, and often bring about concrete benefits for him and for others, the novel recalls the importance of the storytelling tradition, and shows the power of words, of imagination and of sharing them with an audience. But it does not follow this blindly. Elliott suggests that the storyteller holds a power which he can’t take lightly, and which, when abused, can have detrimental effects.

Through The Goat in the Tree, Elliott shows us that there are two sides to every coin, and that even the most inspiring talents come with the responsibility of acting with honour and sincerity.

This novel is stark. It is inspiring. Above all, it is highly entertaining.

Take a sneak peek into the brilliant world of The Goat in the Tree

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The Goat in the Tree is available on the Guernica Editions website: http://www.guernicaeditions.com/title/9781550718102

Posted in Commentaries, Fiction.

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