John Gimlette is a writer of vivid comical prose, whose first travel book appeared under the title At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig. For his second, he has followed an ancestral trail, padding along in the footprints of his great-grandfather, Eliot Curwen. Curwen, a doctor, set off for Newfoundland and Labrador in 1893, ‘lands generally supposed to have been gnawed away by poverty and cold’. Gimlette finds a ‘theatre of fish’, where the locals speak a curious dialect, riddled with surviving elements from ‘Old English, Middle English, bad English, both classical and bog Irish, Portuguese, Micmac, Basque, Breton and babble’. Newfound- land, according to Gimlette, is a land neither entirely North American nor entirely European, a wild hinterland.