If you’re a writer, you’re going to want to read Nicholas Herring’s debut novel, SOME HELLISH!

You know that I always write my reviews from a writerly perspective, so when I say you MUST read this book, I’m usually talking to my writer friends, but today, it’s going to be different. If you’ve ever struggled with mental health, addiction, love, grief and all those human emotions that make us question what it is to be alive, then you need to read SOME HELLISH.

Readers and writers, both, should join us at Junction Reads on Sunday April 16 at 5:00pm ET. Register on EventBrite and PWYC. All proceeds go to the author. You may also win a copy from its publisher, Goose Lane Editions.

In Nicholas Herring’s literary debut, he offers us a fictitious Herring, who has sawed a hole in the floor of his home ­– his wife’s grandfather’s home – for no apparent reason. He and his best buddy Gerry string along, from drink to drink (shine to shine), smoking pot and hash, popping pills and acid, and thinking about nothing more than the lobsters, the boat, the upcoming season, and the relationships they’ve lost and want. As they prepare for the season, we meet dozens of characters, some important, some who simply exist. They are as much the setting in the novel as the trees, the houses, the rigs, and signposts. They are ARE this novel. The reader knows from the opening pages, the hole in the floor isn’t the only shitty thing that’s going to happen in this novel. When Herring falls overboard and disappears, both he and Gerry are faced with the big questions, and this time they cannot drown them out with shine or more pills.

SOME HELLISH is not just a novel that asks what it means to think, to live, to be human, but it demands we look at those who are struggling with empathy and love. To live a daily grind in the storm and crises of human existence, like grief, divorce, lovelessness, fruitless labour, is a difficult life and to do it with addiction and mental illness is near impossible. In this novel, Nicholas Herring offers us two men, whose friendship is a potent reminder that in this life, we only need to love, and be loved by, one other human being to understand its true meaning.

“Gerry was as faithful a friend as he could be to a person such as he (Herring), and that it was precisely this faith in him that had him here, biting his lip at three-thirty in the morning, trying to be patient and genial. Strangely enough, prior to this little scene (finding Gerry’s fake teeth in a washing machine), he had never thought of Gerry as a friend. But now, the notion took a hold on him. He swallowed hard, yoked by the sense that something had opened in him, given him a kind of admittance. Yes, he was running on a drunken sleep, which was no sleep at all, that had been divided by the need of another, but somehow or another he felt quite awake.”

Nicholas Herring, SOME HELLISH

For my writer friends. Holy smokes. If you want to be impressed by the beauty of Herring’s tone and voice, and the torrential lyricism and figurative language, you must read this novel. I have got sticky notes in dozens of places, and I’ve even circled in pen (argh) some of the most moving passages!

“The Island this muted and humble sleep of land. To behold it so stirred something in a person, soothed you. You could feel yourself grow. The sky and the earth and the waters, and whatever lay within each of us these tiers. Man was in constant communication with these things, and out here, to be reminded of this was lovely, reassuring. This acknowledgement was like an embrace that you could relish even as you outgrew its influence. Everything, all things, were fermenting.”

Nicholas Herring, SOME HELLISH

SOME HELLISH was winner of the 2022 Atwood Gibson Writers’ Trust Award. “Nicholas Herring is a carpenter and writer whose work has appeared in The Ex-Puritan and The Fiddlehead. He graduated from St. Jerome’s University with an honours degree in English Literature and attended the University of Toronto where he completed an MA in Creative Writing. Herring lives in Murray Harbour, PEI.”