The Fid­dler is a Good Woman

Ge­off Berner Dun­durn (NOVEM­BER) Soft­cover $18.99 (232pp) 978-1-4597-3708-2

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Adult Fiction - MEG NOLA

The lan­guage of The Fid­dler is a Good Woman blends the pro­fane and po­etic.

Ge­off Berner’s The Fid­dler is a Good Woman pieces to­gether the fic­tion­ally frag­mented life of a Cana­dian rock vi­o­lin­ist named DD, known for her many moods and tal­ents, now seem­ingly gone with­out a trace. Through al­ter­nat­ing chap­ters, friends, lovers, band­mates, and fel­low mu­si­cians of­fer di­verse per­spec­tives on the mys­tery that is DD, with a gen­eral con­sen­sus that her per­son­al­ity was in­tense and her mu­si­cal tal­ent uniquely re­mark­able.

A mu­si­cian him­self, Berner’s first­hand ex­pe­ri­ence of the long haul of tour­ing and play­ing gigs and festivals is the mar­row of the novel, as is know­ing the pas­sion for mu­sic that fu­els per­form­ers and fans. He also in­tro­duces an in­trigu­ing ros­ter of al­ter­na­tive acts, clad in vin­tage dresses or “Clark Kent” glasses, er­rat­i­cally united in their fight against bland mu­sic.

DD and her band­mates are on rock’s in­die fringe, and the time frame of rec­ol­lec­tion cen­ters around the years just be­fore so­cial me­dia be­gan to dom­i­nate the fame of groups. In­die was a bit more in­die then, and pack­aged im­age and brand­ing not as in­te­gral.

While much of the sex, drugs, and rock-an­droll leg­end has been cen­tered around men, DD is the charis­matic lover and user here, swing­ing “be­tween girls like Tarzan from vine to vine.” She drinks and par­ties hard, par­takes in more than her share of sub­stances, and is ca­pa­ble of con­sid­er­able charm, com­pas­sion, or vi­o­lence. Of Na­tive Amer­i­can her­itage, DD was adopted and raised by “Ger­man su­per-culty” Chris­tians. Her mother later tried to “beat the gay outta her,” but DD ran away.

The lan­guage of The Fid­dler is a Good Woman blends the pro­fane and po­etic. There are also mor­dantly funny ob­ser­va­tions about the Cana­dian mu­sic scene and Canada it­self, like the rau­cous Steer­punch­ers mega-bar in Cal­gary, soul­less On­tario blues play­ers, or im­ages of strip-club pa­trons watch­ing the show and the hockey game on TV with equally drunken in­ter­est. On the side of Canada’s nat­u­ral beauty is DD’S de­scrip­tion of a fa­vorite place in far-western Bri­tish Columbia, lush and green as a “King Arthur leg­end.”

Melodic and chaotic, with a wide range of voices, The Fid­dler is a Good Woman cre­ates an artist of com­plex char­ac­ter, un­apolo­get­i­cally flawed and al­most too real to be fic­tional.

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