Paardeberg, South Africa is far from the Canadian prairies. In 1899, best friends from the small town of Portage la Prairie, Will and Mason, sign up with the Winnipeg Rifles’ “A” Company to fight in the Second Boer War. Here they meet Robert, the silent anthropologist from Alberta with a mystery he isn’t revealing; Claire, an Australian nurse, chafing under her parents’ glass ceiling; and Campbell Scott, a rebellious veteran with an African wife and a hot air balloon requisitioned by the army for spying.
All are fleeing their former lives but to be free they must face the shattered bodies of war. In the dust and desert of South Africa, they drift towards each other in ways that can spell either disaster or salvation. Different reasons fuel each person’s motion: Mason wants to fight in the name of justice, pride, and manliness. Will, hesitant from the start, ultimately learns that war is hell. Claire struggles for independence, and Campbell Scott drowns his disillusions in his wife’s potent homebrew.
With breathtaking grace, Leo Brent Robillard delivers an unstoppable story.
"Leo Brent Robillard's The Road to Atlantis is a poignant, resonant tale of a family's dissolution following the death of their daughter. In gorgeous, gripping prose, he explores how individuals cope with tragedy and how grief sifts through the generations until it can finally settle and heal. This is a novel that echoes with human emotion and meaning and that deserves to be read."
-- Lauren Carter, author of Swarm
-- Lauren Carter, author of Swarm
Friday, September 23, 2011
The CBC has come up with The Laferrière Questionnaire as a sort of Proust Questionnaire for the 21st century. The 20 questions are meant "to shine a light on who we are, both as writers and as individuals."
Here are my responses to those questions (not that the CBC was asking):
1. If you were Alice, would you rather stay in Wonderland on the other side of the mirror, or come back to the real world to tell your story?
Ever read Plato’s Republic? I’m not sure that the real world wants to know.
2. If your home were on fire, what prized keepsake would you grab on your way out?
Photographs. But I don’t have enough hands.
3. What childhood fear do you still have as an adult?
Death. It doesn’t help that I’m getting closer...and closer.
4. Would it be okay to have a miserable childhood if that were a prerequisite for becoming a writer?
I spend a lot of energy ensuring that children don’t have miserable childhoods. However, it is somewhat comforting to think that those who aren’t reached in time still have a chance.
5. Do you wake up at night to read or write?
The older I get, the more I appreciate sleep. If I wake up, I turn over and close my eyes.
6. Do you feel anxious or excited when you start to write?
Excited. Absolutely. Anxiety is something I experience when people read what I write.
7. Does darkness soothe you or frighten you?
I often walk down to the lake alone at night to watch the moon reflected in the water. I love the dark.
8. Do you tend to hang on to a thousand little scraps of paper, or do you regularly clean out your drawers?
The universe moves toward chaos. I embrace this idea.
9. Which animal would you rather be: a cat or a dog?
Cat. Without question. They get fed, and pet, and pampered without so much as shaking a paw.
10.Does love dry up your creative juices or make them flow faster?
Love and passion are at the heart of all good writing.
11.Do you remember your dreams?
I am always aware of whether or not I dreamed; however, the only memories I manage to hang on to come from those brief moments as I’m crossing over into wakefulness.
12.What's your favourite colour?
The red of the autumn sunrise over our lake.
13.What's your favourite season?
Summer. Vacation. Lazy stifling humid heat. Long days. Kids in the water. Warm evening air. Cold beer.
14.Does pressure motivate you?
It’s the only thing that does.
15.Would you rather live to write or write to live?
Live to write. I wouldn’t want my writing tied to a paycheque. I’d starve.
16. What published book do you secretly wish you had written?
17.Are you the paranoid type or calm, cool and collected?
I’m not easily rattled. Busy? Often. But never paranoid.
18. What would qualify as the afternoon of your dreams?
Writing is a morning activity for me. And reading is the evening. So I guess I’d like to be on a solitary hike in the Adirondacks, with no other obligations on the horizon -- ascending one of the remote high peaks in late summer haze, like Haystack or Skylight.
19. Are you more like the sun or the moon?
I’d like to say the moon, because I like the imagery and the symbolism. But if I’m honest, I am much more like the sun.
20.Do you hear voices?
Check out Canada Writes for yourself!