Broken Man on a Halifax Pier

Dundurn. Nov. 2019. 320p. ISBN 9781459745247. pap. $21.99. F
Meet Charles Howard, the “broken man on a Halifax pier.” Charles has hit rock bottom: no money and no job since the newspaper he worked for closed. While he stands on the pier contemplating his sorry life, Ramona appears out of the fog. Ramona, a former actress, takes Charles under her wing and on the spur of the moment decides to drive him to his boyhood home, Stewart Harbour, on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore. Charles, who spent his whole life escaping the village and his past, returns with some ambivalence. Structured like a television series, the narrative twists and turns, and each chapter ends with a cliff hanger. Prolific author Choyce (Raising Orion) covers a huge array of topics—the closure of local newspapers, drug abuse, dementia, pornography, abandonment, prison, and hurricanes—but the book’s strength derives from the characterization of Stewart Harbour.
VERDICT Charles may be broken, but his hometown and the ocean itself seem to live and breathe. A great vacation book, one to take to the beach or to curl up with by the fireplace.

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