Mad Dog > Overview

It’s 1964 in rural Ontario in Kelly Watt’s debut novel, Mad Dog, and 14-year-old Sheryl-Anne MacRae has a transistor playing the Supremes and a swoony crush on Peter Angelo, the guitar-playing hitchhiker working in her Uncle Fergus’s orchard for the summer. She also has the “sight,” the ability to see pictures of things in her head before they happen, or at least that’s how her uncle explains the horrible visions she has been having. The lazy adolescent curiosity of Sheryl’s summer of ’64–reading Nancy Drew by the lake, aiming her binoculars at the lovely hired hand–is shadowed by a vague haze of cruelty and menace, which thickens the more we learn about Fergus’s apocalyptic ideas: that a new age is coming, and that “the true law is man’s will, what is evil often does good.”

There is a wonderful immediacy to Watt’s writing, as the narration eases in and out of conversation and follows the dreamy impulses of Sheryl’s mind. She is at once naive and willful, meeting the world with a kindness that no one around her seems to share, but then brazenly manoeuvering the older Peter into reluctant affection. It’s a pleasure to live inside her head….  —Tom Nissley

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