Utne Blogs > Literature

An Unusual Ode to Home

by Miranda Trimmier 


Tags: creative nonfiction, manifestos, home, rants, Joel Thomas Hynes,

newfoundland cloudsIt doesn’t sound like much of a paean:

F*** the Narrows. F***Amherst Rock, the gull shit, the Castle. F*** Marconi. F*** the charming little hippy-stained row houses in the Battery. F*** the Battery. 

But to hear author and playwright Joel Thomas Hynes tell it, that’s exactly how he’d like you to read “God Help Thee: A Manifesto,” his ragged tirade about home.

Home, in this case, is Newfoundland, and Hynes finds quite a few things worthy of his four-letter kiss-off there—three pages’ worth, in fact, and throughout those three pages, Hynes never once strays from the bilious style set down in those first two lines. The only things that change in his relentless harangue are the targets, whether he’s skewering “the ignoramus theatrics down at City Hall” or “every coulda/woulda/shoulda-been circle-jerkin ex-high school hockey star.”

If Hynes sounds upset, he is. But, as he observes in a post script to the piece, the carefully directed crankiness also reminds him what makes home unique—a “mutinous means of expanding the myth” of Newfoundland. Hynes has a point: “God Help Thee” sounds like the kind of trash-talking rant you share with friends over beers. There's a slow pleasure in these moments, a catharsis in staking your spot in the place you live.

Image by Greg Hickman, licensed under Creative Commons.

riddle fence
2/22/2009 7:30:12 PM

For your interest, God Help Thee: A Manifesto, was originally printed in Riddle Fence(.com), a journal of arts and culture published three times yearly in St. John's, Newfoundland. You can download a free audio version of Hynes' rant (or download it in exchange for a small donation to a Newfoundland-based emergency artists' fund) at http://rattlingbooks.com/Product.aspx?ProductID=88