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Late Nights on Air Hardcover – Sep 18 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 376 pages
  • Publisher: McClelland & Stewart; Canadian First edition (Sept. 18 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0771038119
  • ISBN-13: 978-0771038112
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3 x 21.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 454 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #266,212 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

After being fired from his latest television job, a disgraced Harry Boyd returns to his radio roots in the northern Canadian town of Yellowknife as the manager of a station no one listens to, and finds himself at the center of the station's unlikely social scene. New anchor Dido Paris, both renowned and mocked for her Dutch accent, fled an affair with her husband's father, only to be torn between Harry and another man. Wild child Gwen came to learn radio production, but under Harry's tutelage finds herself the guardian of the late-night shift. And lonely Eleanor wonders if it's time to move south just as she meets an unlikely suitor. While the station members wait for Yellowknife to get its first television station and the crew embarks on a life-changing canoe expedition, the city is divided over a proposal to build a pipeline that would cut across Native lands, bringing modernization and a flood of workers, equipment and money into sacred territory. Hay's crystalline prose, keen details and sharp dialogue sculpt the isolated, hardy residents of Yellowknife, who provide a convincing backdrop as the main cast tromps through the existential woods. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Review

#1 National Bestseller

“Elizabeth Hay has created her own niche in Canadian fiction by fastening her intelligence on the real stuff — the bumps and glories in love, kinship, friendship.”
Toronto Star

“Hay exposes the beauty simmering in the heart of harsh settings with an evocative grace that brings to mind Annie Proulx.”
Washington Post

"Dazzling....A flawlessly crafted and timeless story, masterfully told.” — Jury citation, the Scotiabank Giller Prize

“Exquisite….Hay creates enormous spaces with few words, and makes the reader party to the journey, listening, marvelling….” — Globe and Mail

“This is Hay’s best novel yet.” — Marni Jackson, The Walrus

“Invites comparison with work by Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood. Outside Canada, one thinks of A.S. Byatt or Annie Proulx.” — Times Literary Supplement

“Written by a master storyteller.” — Winnipeg Free Press

“Psychologically astute, richly rendered and deftly paced. It’s a pleasure from start to finish.” — Toronto Star

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ian Gordon Malcomson HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Jan. 3 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a finely crafted portrayal of life in Canada's Far North! In her story, Hay effectively brings together a motley group of southerners in Yellowknife to work the northern airwaves for the CBC. This novel covers a time in the middle 70s when the North was opening up to development of its great deposits of oil and natural gas, and people were coming from points south to start a new life for themselves. What many were not prepared for was the incredible struggle they would have to go through to assert their identity. The land that they are about to enter is described in the novel in all its unexpected ferocity, unimaginable vastness, haunting beauty, forsaken loneliness and unyielding naturalness. Intimidating enough to send any newcomer packing after their first winter! The barren world that confronts these outsiders - Harry, Gwen, Eddie, Dido, Ralph and Eleanor - is one that can only be temporarily subdued by the power and lure of transmitted voices breaking into other's confined living spaces dotted over the hundreds of miles of open wasteland. All the above physical dimensions have the power to keep northerners eking out a living in tiny communities hugging the banks of the many rivers like the mighty Mackenzie. For the whiteman there is no substitute for the human voice, even though people like Gwen attempt to go out and capture the numerous sounds of wildlife on tape to compensate for the real thing. It is the magnetic qualities of the Dido's voice on a late night program that initially draws Harry to her in what turns out to be an unhappy affair. The trouble with a voice pattern is that while it becomes the initial badge of identity in the far reaches of nowhere, it only serves to lead people to each other in the hope of forming more lasting contacts.Read more ›
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Paula on Nov. 21 2007
Format: Hardcover
Great original story about the modern Canadian north country! The author recreates life at a Yellowknife radio station circa 1975. At the heart of the story are the well drawn characters that work at the statio---and a mixed bag it is--and there relationships with each other. But this is no ordinary radio station due to it remote and wild location--- the author does a great job contrasting these two elements. This is a real slice of life book that takes you to a time and a place populated by real people.

A trip into the Barrens to retrace the route of explorer John Hornby was my favorite part of the book. The author does an excellent job of capturing the essence of this wild place, and bringing to life its effect on the human visitors/inhabitants. The last book that did as good a job at this was "Across the High Lonesome" another excellent slice of life book set in the high mountains of California.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Cindy Stroud on Dec 7 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book manages to do something not many can, last one I can remember doing this good a job is "Lonesome Dove" by Larry McMurtry. That is bring into sharp focus the characters and relationships of a time and place in such a way that you truly believe them to be real people, and then take these people and cast them against a wild landscape. The story is as much about the how the characters relate to each other as to how they relate to their environment. In "Lonesome Dove" McMurtry takes a cast of well rendered characters and takes them on a cattle drive from Texas to Montana. "In Late Nights on Air" Hay introduces us to the people who work at a Yellow Knife radio station in the wild and wooly Canadian North. Once I started this book it was impossible to put down! Another book that captures a slice of life in a wild place I recommend is "Across the High Lonesome" I did not think it as strong as this novel but still a worthy read.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Teddy on May 25 2008
Format: Hardcover
Its 1975 Yellowknife where Harry arrives on the scene to temporarily manage the small town radio station, back where his radio career started. When he arrives, he is enchanted by an exotic and sensual female voice on the air, that of Dido. He falls instantly in love but finds out that Dido is more than what her voice portrays.

There is also Eleanor, the wise and supportive receptionist, Gwen the woman who drove cross-country hoping for a producer job behind the scenes, but instead is put on as an amateur announcer, and there is Ralph the book critic and photographer. Of course, Yellowknife is also a central character with its beauty and biting cold.

In the background, we learn about the real life controversy of the proposed Mackenzie River Valley natural gas line, which threatens to go into the Arctic and destroy native people's land. We also learn the rich history of the extraordinary explorer John Hornby, which prompts Harry, Eleanor, Gwen, and Ralph into an ambitious and difficult 6-week journey through the harsh climate on foot and by canoe.

Throughout the entire book Elizabeth Hay allows us to get to know and love the richly-textured characters that come to life. I felt as if I was part of the book as I was reading it. Having to bundle up when reading about the harsh winters and in awe of the beauty both sounds and sights that Hay paints. The characters seem like people who are true to life, which makes the book very readable and believable.

Hay won the prestigious Giller Prize for this work and I couldn't agree more. This book is a must read and will appeal to readers of literary fiction, fine character studies, and historical fiction alike. This was my first voyage through Elizabeth Hay and it has left me yearning for more by this outstanding author.
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