Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Finding Home

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Most of us have known him only as a writer of police procedurals. As a matter of fact, Eric Wright is one of the grand old men of Canadian crime fiction. Lately, though, he's taken to producing novels that are definitely not cut from the cloth of police and criminals, but based on seemingly more mundane things. Finding Home, his 2007 book for Cormorant, does have a bit of mystery in its plot to be certain, but this is more of a sidebar to the structure of the book.

Will Prentice, an ad man from Toronto, is in England to bury his mother. Seemingly not close to anybody in his life for some bit of time, he's really there to do something even more important. Having emigrated from England many years earlier, he's spent his adult life in Canada, but with the recent collapse of his marriage, he no longer knows who he is or where he's from. This story is about that search.

With dry wit and great style, Eric has his character and a young relation named Fred head out into the English countryside on a sort of treasure hunt/tourist trip to his mum's former haunts. On the surface, it's to find out who she really was, but in reality, it allows Will to examine his own life. Interspersed with their motoring are Will's impressions and memories of his life in Canada, as told to his "nephew" who is curious about our country.

This is not your usual finding-of-self novel. There isn't the angst associated with an endeavor like that. Will seems curiously detached from what has happened to him, caught in a state where he's waiting for something that will tell him what he's supposed to do with the rest of his life.

Eric Wright's takes on what makes up Canada (and here I think we get most close to the author's true feelings) are in turns clever, witty, biting and warm. Being an immigrant myself, I understand where he is coming from. But also having been born in the U.K., Eric has a special view of his birth country which he also shares with us. He's an inside-outsider, as it were.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Mr. Wright's craftsmanship has never been better. Like all great writers, his words disappear and allow us to slip into the story, in this case the backseat of a car, listening and watching as Will and Fred motor through the heart of England, while trying to discover things they both need to know about who and what they are.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Rick Blechta

Rick Blechta is the author of the novels Knock On Wood, The Lark Ascending, Shooting Straight in the Dark, Cemetery of the Nameless, and When Hell Freezes Over. A Case of You, his latest novel, will be published in the spring of 2008 with Rendezvous Press.

Go to Rick Blechta’s Author Page