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REVIEWS
of the book by Kevin Penton called
BRIMSTONE HEAD - A Collection of Short Stories
About growing up on one of the "Four Corners" of the Earth - Fogo Newfoundland




by Roy Dwyer author of the Old Harbours series of books:
Kevin Penton most surely ignited my interest when the first segment of his ‘On the Road’** series was published in the Fogo Island Flame (October, 2007). “That guy is a really good writer, I thought and other than knowing he was of Fogo Island origins I had no inkling of who this writer was.

I haven’t met Kevin but in subsequent issues of The Flame I journeyed with him through regions of America diverse in scenery and in history and to say the least, I certainly enjoyed the ride.

In his book “Brimstone Head; A Collection of Short Stories, Fogo, Newfoundland”, Kevin journeys home. On this journey, back to his roots, I’m a more intimate travel-mate, having similar experiences of growing up in a small fishing village on Fogo Island during the 1950ies.

Unfortunately his village of Lion’s Den was resettled and for Kevin, then a young boy, it could have been a very traumatic experience. Fortunately for Kevin (and his readers) his family relocated to the nearby town of Fogo from whence their old homestead was only a short jaunt or boat-ride away.

His return, after a long stint on the mainland, is a sort of pilgrimage and one senses in the aged writer the excitement of a child for the place that has forever remained dear to him.

Memories can be bitter-sweet but despite adversity the latter prevails throughout most of his book. Death, untimely visits, but his family copes as the whole community shares in their grief and helps in their healing. Even in re-settlement there’s little recrimination as those were the times and it was happening elsewhere. Also there’s no self-pity over their poverty. That too was of the times and sparse pantries and hand-me-downs were prevalent in many households.

For the most part, Kevin’s book deals with the pleasures of growing up in Fogo; of family outings and picnics in Lion’s Den and the qualities of sharing, caring and compassion so evident in family and in neighborhood.

Throughout his stories the memories roll; of card games (120ies) around the kitchen table, the soft glow of kerosene lamps, the aroma of pipe tobacco, tobogganing down snow filled hills and games played on the harbour ice.

Other memories abound but Brimstone Head is much more than a collection of memories. It is the search for the soul of an old harbour, for abandoned villages cry out for remembrance; for its expatriates to return and to reflect awhile on a place, once so full of life, that gave them life.

Kevin has done that. The cry of that old harbour can now be stilled and for anyone unable to make the journey, Kevin will take you along with him.

I left him, where the winds were whispering to him alone, for his journey had become very personal. It had become more than a search for self for along the steep trail, over partridge-berry strewn hills, across the fallow fields and on the high look-outs over a silent harbour, I sensed he was searching for someone special. It was his Am Mag and if we’re lucky we all have someone like her in our past. Did he find her you wonder? You’ll have to read his book to find out.

On a final note, Kevin’s book is a very enjoyable read. It transported this old reader back to when visiting was a major pastime and story tellers were revered as they spun yarns and reminisced in the fireglow. His stories have the same harm as the illustrations that portray times long past. “Brimstone Head; A Collection of Short Stories” will be a most valuable contribution to the cultural heritage of Fogo and while few have to ask directions to that famous landmark many (this reader included) will be stopping a passer-by to inquire, “How do you get to Lion”s Den?”

** Visit http://home.cogeco.ca/~ontheroad for stories Kevin Penton wrote while traveling North America. These and many, many more stories of his travels will be released as a coffee table book.

from the February 2010 FOGO ISLAND FLAME
Kevin Penton’s book: Brimstone Head... is now available at the This & That Store in Fogo.
The Flame has been reading the book and enjoying each chapter. In his words, Kevin has taken me to the very scenes that he describes so eloquently in each chapter.
If you really want to learn about how life was for one boy growing up during the 50’s and 60’s on Fogo Island when modernization was just a fancy word, then I recommend you grab your copy before they are sold out.
Thanks Kevin, for giving us another time capsule of our documented history.

By Hal Henderson:
Kevin's personal recollection of growing up in the Maritimes is a piece of Canadian History. His descriptive writing takes you walking with him as a young boy to Brimstone Head and makes you feel as though his loving Aunt might be part of your own family. His expressive style takes you back in time to feel the hardship with which he lived, while opening the door to reveal the richness of life on Fogo Island, Newfoundland.

By Rochelle Vigurs:
If you're from “away,” and you think a header is the data at the top of a web page, and a pancake is something you eat for breakfast, if you think a collar is what you wear around your neck, and a tickle is what makes you laugh, then you've got another think coming. From lassy to leggy, from ballicatters to brewis, the stories in Brimstone Head will make you smile and marvel—and shed a tear perhaps—as they carry you back to the middle of the last century and an isolated Newfoundland outport where hard work was the stuff of life, and community the knot that held it all together. These stories are a real treasure.

By Rick Alexander:
This book was an entertaining but informative read at the same time. I was taken back to a time and place I never experienced.

The book was an easy, entertaining and enlightening read through a child’s eyes of what it was like growing up in a Newfoundland outport during the 1950s. From light and humorous short stories to grief seen through the eyes of a child. Educational stories about cod fishing the way it was, to places that no long exist. From the legend of Fogo being one of the “Four Corners of the Earth,” to experiencing the accent come alive in his writing and the occasional use of colourfully unique Newfoundland English.

By Robert Henry:
While illustrating this wonderful compilation of stories from Kevin's childhood, I not only got a glimpse into his own development, but if one ever wanted to know about the strange mysterious and somewhat idyllic, yet extremely harsh life in Newfoundland, this is the book to read. Each story was told so clearly that although I envisioned several scenarios to illustrate, and chose certain key scenes, one's imagination will fly while listening to Kevin "tell" each story. It's almost as if you are in a theater listening to an author reading a children's story to a captive audience. Very well done! Five stars..... I absolutely recommend this book!

from The PILOT - February 10, 2010 Issue - Lewisport, Newfoundland
FOGO ISLAND - Recalling memories from a childhood spent on Fogo Island in the 1950s and '60s is the basis of Kevin Penton's first book entitled "Brimstone Head; A Collection of Short Stories".

The youngest of six children, Fogo native Mr. Penton was a Confederation baby born in 1949. He lived in the resettled community of Lion's Den until compulsory schooling forced his familty to move to the Town of Fogo.

The recently published book provides information on Brimstone Head, one of the Four Corners of the Earth according to the Flat Earth Society, historical facts about the Town of Fogo, Fogo Island and also includes it's own unique Newfoundland English glossary.

Released in mid-January, Mr. Penton said he has yet to hear any feedback on his book, however he valued the input from the individuals who edited the short stories.

"In its creation, they were often moved to tears as they relived my memories through my writing" he said. "It inspired the confidence to continue writing and that I did indeed have stories to tell which could move others."