The World, by Bill Gaston. (Image credit penguin.ca)

I have mentioned that I’m a fan of CanLit, and so from time to time I like to comment on books I’ve recently read.  Good CanLit for my money should be evocative of the country and the Canadian ‘condition’ all the while telling a good yarn.  Bill Gaston’s newest novel, The World, the first of his work I’ve read, hits the mark on all counts and won’t be the last from this author I pick up.

Gaston’s quintessentially Canadian biography, growing up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Toronto, Ontario, and North Vancouver, British Columbia and working variously as a logger, salmon fishing guide, group home leader and writing professor at universities on two Canadian coasts is apparent in the cross-country narrative of The World. The novel is part road trip, part love story and part tale of coming of (middle-)age as the protagonist, the recently retired Stuart Price begins the story having accidentally burnt down his house the day after paying off his mortgage.

Frustrated with discussions with his insurance company about the state of his coverage, Stuart out of the blue decides to rekindle a friendship with an old flame who, he has recently learned, is dying of cancer in Toronto.  We travel with Stuart in his old Datsun across the country – a check mark for the road story which paints the Canadian landscape from west to east as the old car (almost) makes it to Toronto. Continue reading

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