Taking the Stairs

Overview

Longlisted for the 2009 Relit Award for the novel

Jarod Palmer is a 32-year-old Toronto writer waiting for his big break--though a small one will do. Haunted by his story of tragic teenage sweethearts in smalltown Nova Scotia--featuring the unforgettable Lana Banana--Jarod is infected by the ancient mariner's curse on all young unpublished novelists to "tell the tale." The problem is that he is trying to pursue his solitary and introspective ...

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2008 Paperback New Nightwood Editions 2008 Review"Taking the Stairs is subtle, desperation-laced with bits of hope that compel it forward with improbable force. It's Stiles' ... best, and a winner by all accounts."--Corb Lund (Corb Lund ) "Taking the Stairs is an utterly winning, Kafkaesque novel, set first in small town Glenville and later in Toronto, about Jarod Palmer's desperate and inescapable love affair with being a writer, being dumped by calculating, duplicitous girls and tortured by the obtuse and well-meaning Elliot. From beginning to end-from teenage adoration for Lana Banana, to traumatic talent contests, penniless days spent in bed, low-paid jobs, rejection slips, phone calls, film scripts and short stories-it is horny, abject, real, funny and grand."--Annie Freud (Annie Freud ) "Taking the Stairs is a coming-of-age novel that is all telling details and offbeat touches. It is a novel by someone who still knows the power of small town secrets. The story follows Nova Scotia lad Jarod Palmer from Read more Show Less

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Overview

Longlisted for the 2009 Relit Award for the novel

Jarod Palmer is a 32-year-old Toronto writer waiting for his big break--though a small one will do. Haunted by his story of tragic teenage sweethearts in smalltown Nova Scotia--featuring the unforgettable Lana Banana--Jarod is infected by the ancient mariner's curse on all young unpublished novelists to "tell the tale." The problem is that he is trying to pursue his solitary and introspective task in a city that feels like a film set: "the lights are on all the time."

Between answering constant phone calls from his doting, overprotective mother and a perpetually neurotic, alcoholic and soon-to-be-divorced film producer determined to convince Jarod into plying his trade for the "dark side," Jarod finds time to communicate just as ineffectively with his volatile Spanish girlfriend.

His pursuit of work gives new meaning to the term "odd job": dishwasher, copywriter, telemarketer, door-to-door salesman, film set gofer . . . One day, despite a $50-per-hour press-release-writing gig, Jarod finds himself at a restaurant table with his girlfriend, a bottle of ketchup, a bill, and not a dime in his pocket.

Sorting through life in the city, writing, rejection letters from publishers, jobs, and a rocky relationship, Taking the Stairs is fast-moving, risky and infectiously fun. This is the story of Jarod Palmer's self-discovery--a coming-of-age for the soon-to-be-evicted. It's the perfect book for anyone who's ever found themselves an elevator-ride away from their dreams.

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Editorial Reviews

Ithaca Times
"Taking the Stairs is a coming-of-age novel that is all telling details and offbeat touches. It is a novel by someone who still knows the power of small town secrets. The story follows Nova Scotia lad Jarod Palmer from his ill-at-ease youth, trying to please his flibbertigibbet gal pal Lana Banana, to early middle age as a Toronto writer working crap gigs waiting for the big break. It's funny, warm, odd and vulnerable as all get-out."
--Ithaca Times (New York)
Calgary Herald
"Taking the Stairs is a humorous window into the life of a thirtysomething who for right or wrong is so dedicated to his love of writing that he risks giving up himself in the process. It's a light read worth taking to the beach this summer."
--Calgary Herald
Novel Things
"Stiles' bleak comedy is guaranteed to make even the most malnourished writer laugh out loud."
--Mike Landry, Novel Things
Midwest Book Review
"Getting started as an author in Toronto isn't easy. Taking the Stairs is a novel about struggling writer Jarod Palmer, who earns the money he needs to stay alive doing whatever it takes from telemarketing to gofering, while trying to make the most of his writing career. He sees success in his grasp, but characters from his overprotective mother to seedy film producers strew obstacles along his path. Taking the Stairs is a gripping tale with everyday problems that readers will relate to - such as paying the rent!"
--Midwest Book Review
Ottawa XPress
"There have been streams of books about the process of being a writer (and artist), but Stiles (a Nova Scotia-born writer now living in London, England) approaches the subject with warmth, humour and economy."
--Ottawa XPress
Maple Tree Literary Supplement
"...Taking the Stairs is a clever, well-crafted work of fiction. Stiles's wit and the multifarious narrative elements that comprise this novel make it a fun and thought-provoking read. Fans of Atlantic Canadian fiction will not be disappointed!"
--Michèle Rackham
Corb Lund
"Taking the Stairs is subtle, desperation-laced with bits of hope that compel it forward with improbable force. It's Stiles' best, and a winner by all accounts."
--Corb Lund
Annie Freud
"Taking the Stairs is an utterly winning, Kafkaesque novel, set first in small town Glenville and later in Toronto, about Jarod Palmer's desperate and inescapable love affair with being a writer, being dumped by calculating, duplicitous girls and tortured by the obtuse and well-meaning Elliot. From beginning to end - from teenage adoration for Lana Banana, to traumatic talent contests, penniless days spent in bed, low-paid jobs, rejection slips, phone calls, film scripts and short stories - it is horny, abject, real, funny and grand."
--Annie Freud
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780889712218
  • Publisher: Nightwood Editions
  • Publication date: 5/22/2008
  • Pages: 214
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

John Stiles was born in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. His debut novel, The Insolent Boy, received acclaim in Canada and the US. He has written two collections of poetry: Scouts Are Cancelled: The Annapolis Valley Poems (2002) and Creamsicle Stick Shivs (2006). John's writing has appeared in numerous journals and magazines such as Pagitica, The Literary Review of Canada, Storyteller Magazine, Taddle Creek and the anthology The IV Lounge Reader. John's documentaries have appeared on Much Music and in International film festivals across Canada. He currently lives in London, UK. A documentary film about his struggles as a writer (strongly resembling Taking the Stairs) is currently on the festival circuit; it has appeared at Toronto's Hot Docs and won the Atlantic Film Festival's top documentary prize.
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