Monday, June 21, 2010

Canuck Book 12 - Consolation by Michael Redhill

After reading Girl Crazy, I thought I'd stick with the Toronto novel theme. I'd been meaning to read Consolation for a long time. I was a big fan of his earlier novel, Martin Sloane, so I knew I would likely love this book. Of course, other books kept popping up so Consolation just never reached the top of the pile by my bed.

I'm glad I finally got around to it. Consolation tells two stories. The first involves a family coming to terms with the patriarch's death in late-90s Toronto. The father was a "forensic geologist" who spent his career sifting through the layers of garbage and debris on which the city stands, looking for clues to the past. Stricken with Lou Gehrig's disease, he left behind clues for a potentially crucial find on the site where the city is building it's new hockey arena.

The other story follows the life of a young chemist who moved to Toronto from England in the 1850's to run a store he bought sight unseen. As his main business fails, he gradually moves into the new field of photography.

The strange thing about this book is that, as much as I loved it - and I did love it - I couldn't help wishing the author would have focussed on one of the stories instead of splitting the book between the two narratives. Of course, as the book progresses, you do see why the author has set the book up this way. Quite frankly, this is one of the best Toronto novels I've read in a long time. It's a book that sticks with you and makes you look at the city and its myriad construction sites in a very different light.

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