“In his hilarious debut novel, Some Great Thing, Lawrence Hill uses [a] comic trick to craft a story that is chilling in its reality, faithful to its time and which eventually turns the initial laughter hollow.”
— The Globe and Mail
Mahatma Grafton is a disillusioned university graduate burdened with a famous name, and suffering from the curse of his generation — a total lack of interest in the state of the world. The son of a retired railway porter from Winnipeg, he returns home for a job as a reporter with The Winnipeg Herald. Populated with colourful characters — including an unlikely welfare crusader, a burned-out fellow reporter, a French-language-rights activist, and a visiting journalist from Cameroon — Some Great Thing is a fascinating portrait of a major urban newspaper and a deeply perceptive story of one man’s coming of age.
His son was born in 1957 at the Misericordia Hospital in Winnipeg, before men had to start watching their wives give birth. Asked about it years later, Ben Grafton replied, “What’s a man to do in a place like that, except grow all bug-eyed and wobbly and make a shining fool of himself?”
On that windless January night, Ben Grafton didn’t enter the delivery room. He didn’t consider it. He waited until Louise was “finished,” poked his head in the door and shouted “atta way Lulu!” Wearing a blue woolen cap that stopped short of his huge brown ears, he followed two nurses who took the infant to the nursery. Ben Grafton was not invited. Nor was he self-conscious. He was a forty-three-year-old railroad porter who had coped with all sorts of nonsense in the past and had long stopped wondering what people thought of his being this or that. They turned to tell him he couldn’t stay in the nursery. He said he wanted to look at his little man.