My Present Age

Overview

Ed is punchy, unemployed, and on the wrong side of thirty. After his exasperated wife, Victoria, leaves him, Ed finds consolation where he has always found it, in his own rich and eccentric imagination. Pursued by the demons of his own obsession, Ed embarks on a quixotic quest to find Victoria. As he prowls the city’s parking garages and motel strips, Ed begins a journey back into his past and is forced – most reluctantly – to confront the web of lies and self-deceptions he has woven to keep reality at bay – ...
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Overview

Ed is punchy, unemployed, and on the wrong side of thirty. After his exasperated wife, Victoria, leaves him, Ed finds consolation where he has always found it, in his own rich and eccentric imagination. Pursued by the demons of his own obsession, Ed embarks on a quixotic quest to find Victoria. As he prowls the city’s parking garages and motel strips, Ed begins a journey back into his past and is forced – most reluctantly – to confront the web of lies and self-deceptions he has woven to keep reality at bay – until even his fantasies start to turn against him. Keenly observant, humane, and darkly comic, My Present Age is an irresistible story about what happens when an Everyman becomes a casualty of modern life.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“It is compulsively readable…and presents us with wholly credible people. This is realism at its best.…”
Financial Times (U.K.)

“Vanderhaeghe’s considerable achievement in the novel is to explore the bleak landscape of contemporary relationships with uncommon insight and to create a memorable character who evokes our sympathy despite – or perhaps because of – his many frailties.”
Globe and Mail

“[Vanderhaeghe is] a savagely funny writer.…[He] has created the perfect vessel from which to launch his kamikaze sorties into contemporary life.…He has created one of the more quirkily appealing characters in recent fiction.”
Washington Post

“[A] masterful novel.…Not a single false note mars the author’s graceful, precise depiction of the present era and its pitfalls.”
ALA Booklist (U.S.)

“[Vanderhaeghe is] an author of palpable and protean gifts.”
Boston Globe

My Present Age is black comedy at its intimate and subversive best.”
–Douglas Barbour, Canadian Literature

“Very nearly unique among present-day novels of any sort: like Philip Roth and almost no one else, Vanderhaeghe has the ability to make you root for the protagonist without setting up straw men or women for the protagonist.…”
–Greil Marcus, Express, Berkeley (U.S.)

“A fast, fluent and very funny novel.…This is a hilarious, bleakly realistic comedy about modern life’s conformists and casualties. Or more precisely, about what can happen when it’s finally time to grow up – and you can’t.”
Imagine Magazine (U.K.)

“[A] wonderful first novel.…Brilliantly funny and very sad.”
San Jose Mercury News

“Compassionate, humorous, and thematically important.”
Bloomsbury Review (U.S.)

“A deftly done novel.…[My Present Age] is astonishing in conception and execution.…”
San Diego Magazine

“An irresistible first novel.…An achievement.…”
Spectator (U.K.)

“A beautifully sustained performance.”
USA Today

Library Journal
These two volumes introduce a young Canadian writer to the American audience. Man Descending , a short story collection set in the Canadian plains from the Thirties to the present, won the 1982 Governor General's Award. In the title story, Ed (a 30-year-old failure who is the main character also of the final story and the novel My Present Age ) laments ``every . . . life could be graphed: an ascent that rises to a peak, pauses at a particular node, and then descends.'' So do the stories. From a carefully crafted opening group about painful childhoods, ``Reunion'' (selected for Best American Short Stories 1983 ) stands out by its emotional power. Then in ``Drummer'' and ``Cages,'' both told by teenager Billy Simpson, the writing takes off, propelled by idiom and humor. Three of the next four stories deal somewhat too artfully with illness, though the last two regain some facility. My Present Age is foreshadowed when Victoria, Ed's estranged wife, tells him, ``Your mind is positively medieval.'' It is indeed: in addition to the acknowledged influence of Kierkegaard, Ed's quest for his wife (and himself) through a provincial Canadian city owes much to the medieval romances. But this structure tempts Vanderhaeghe into too many digressions and flashbacks, padding the plot and muddying the theme of the powers and dangers of the imagination. More seriously, Victoria, a stereotypical yuppie, seems unworthy of the effort to regain her. Readers are likely to prefer Man Descending . Hugh M. Crane, Brockton P.L., Mass.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780771086830
  • Publisher: McClelland & Stewart Ltd.
  • Publication date: 4/1/2000
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Guy Vanderhaeghe was born in Esterhazy, Saskatchewan, in 1951. He is the author of four novels, My Present Age (1984), Homesick (1989), co-winner of the City of Toronto Book Award, The Englishman’s Boy (1996), winner of the Governor General’s Award for Fiction and the Saskatchewan Book Awards for Fiction and for Best Book of the Year, and a finalist for The Giller Prize and the prestigious International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and, most recently, The Last Crossing (2002), a long-time national bestseller and winner of the Saskatoon Book Award, the Saskatchewan Book Awards for Fiction and for Book of the Year, and the Canadian Booksellers Association Libris Award for Fiction Book of the Year, and a finalist for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book. He is also the author of three collections of short stories, Man Descending (1982), winner of the Governor’s General’s Award and the Faber Prize in the U.K., and The Trouble With Heroes (1983), and Things As They Are (1992).

Acclaimed for his fiction, Vanderhaeghe has also written plays. I Had a Job I Liked. Once. was first produced in 1991, and won the Canadian Authors Association Award for Drama. His second play, Dancock’s Dance, was produced in 1995.

Guy Vanderhaeghe lives in Saskatoon, where he is a Visiting Professor of English at S.T.M. College.

From the Hardcover edition.

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