Tuesday, July 1, 2014 |
Carl McKelvey returns to his small-town home after being away for several years, intent on rebuilding his life and being a good dad to the young daughter he left behind. Eleven years earlier, he drove his car into a tree, killing his mother, Elizabeth, and the guilt still shadows him. Now his father, William, is dead too. Past and present collide in Matt Cohen's final novel, a deft exploration of how place and family shape who we are -- and how we can never escape them, no matter how far we run or how long they've been gone.
Elizabeth and After won the 1999 Governor General's Literary Award for fiction.
"Asleep, as awake, William McKelvey made a large ungainly lump. But in his dream McKelvey was all air and fire, a sheet-wrapped ghost drifting through West Gull, a small farming centre and tourist town that for almost two centuries had been dinging to the shore of Long Gull Lake, an elongated granite-shored dip on the southern edge of the Precambrian Shield. The sky was black and moonless, the street lamps off. But in the residential area where William McKelvey slept, the tended streets with the expensive homes between the highway and the lake, most of the doors had amber-lit brass coach lamps showing the way for horses that would never come, and through the windows of their glassed-in solariums could be seen the glowing numbers of VCRs and digital docks and sometimes the trembling green and red lights of fax and answering machines."
From Elizabeth and After by Matt Cohen ©1999. Published by Vintage Canada.