Skip to main navigation menu Skip to main content Skip to site footer


Volume 33, Number 2 (2008)

Living the Authentic Life at "The Far East of the Western World": Edward Riche’s Rare Birds

March 31, 2009


As the tourist industry becomes Newfoundland's primary source of income, the identity of Newfoundlanders grows increasingly attached to what Daniel J. Boorstin calls "pseudo-events": i.e., events of dubious validity performed for the benefit of tourist and host, recallsing Jean Baudrillard's theorization of the simulacrum. Such "cultural performances," in James Overton's sense, are linked to stereotypes of Newfoundland rusticity and endurance perpetuated by writers like Sandra Gwyn, Patrick Kavanagh, and R.J. Needham. Newfoundland's most subversive writer, Edward Riche, deconstructs this aspect of Newfoundland identity in his work. In particular, his Rare Birds (1997) is an investigation of the pseudo-event and the chaos, dependence, and self-loathing that it fosters within those who stage it.