It's 1971. Hal Sachs runs a used bookstore. Business isn't so great, and the store is in a part of Toronto that's about to be paved over with a behemoth expressway. And then Hal meets Lily Klein, an activist schoolteacher who'll do just about anything to stop the highway. It's love at first sight. Until it isn't. And then Hal vanishes.
A half-century later, Hal's nephew, Aitch, waits for his baby to be born as he tries to piece together facts and fictions about Hal's disappearance.
Splitsville is a diamond-cut love letter to a city whose defining moment was to say 'no way' to a highway, and a look at the obsessions that carry down through a family.
|Publisher:||Coach House Books|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)|
About the Author
Howard Akler is the author of The City Man , which was shortlisted for the Amazon First Novel Award, the Commonwealth Prize, and the City of Toronto Book Award, and Men of Action , an essay about consciousness and fatherhood, also nominated for the City of Toronto Book Award.
Read an Excerpt
Sachs unpacks. His hands vanish inside a carton and come out with a pair of old books. He blows the dust off their covers. Glances briefly at condition and title then begins a pile on his left. He pulls out another, a thick one. Hefts it. Runs his forefinger along deckled pages and adds it to the other two. The stack grows — slipcased, hardcovered, spine-cracked. Lily watches without impatience, oddly absorbed by his silent assessments. She shifts her weight. The floor creaks. Sachs looks up, purses his lips as if to speak, but in the end says nothing.
This is how you always imagine him. This moment: in a thin cardigan, with a thick Adam's apple. Stack of books on his desk, a dozen more on the floor. Stacks and stacks with clear precipitous balance. They are alone in the shop. He thumbs a recto, the pages suddenly so catcheted that when she brushes a strand of hair behind her ear the act becomes indecent.
Theirs was a lingering fling. Six months all told, January to June, 1971. Not even a flicker in history and yet something in the nature of ardor emanates still, forty-five years later.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This Novella is all about changes. Part of the book is a flashback to 1971. Hal owns a used bookstore in Toronto and lives above the store. The neighborhood is changing. The city would like to build an expressway through the neighborhood. At a funeral of a customer he meets Lily an activist teacher. They fall in love and out of love and Hal disappears. Interspersed is Hal's nephrew's narration as he awaits the birth of his first child. I really enjoyed the characters and the setting. The author says a lot in a few words. I found the book to be a quick and easy read. Enjoy
Grab your dictionary! Splitsville is filled with words that are rather obscure, but simply add to the dimension of this novel. Splitsville was nothing like what I expected, odd at times and disjointed in others. Still this is a very curious story of an older man and a middle aged woman coming together for a brief time in the early 70s. Sachs is a bookstore owner, which is the reason I was drawn to this book. Much of the story takes place around and in the bookstore proper. He meets Lily at her father’s funeral. Lily’s father was a friend of Sachs. The affair is the result of this meeting and the subsequent one, as Lily disposes of her father’s book collection. The location of this bookstore is in Toronto, a town in flux during this time period. A central character in the book is the growth of Toronto and how to manage it. Lily is an activist. Lily doesn’t want to see the bookstore locale changed for growth. The local mafioso and government do. This is how the growth of Toronto becomes a character in the story. Lily is also a schoolteacher. She teaches grade 11 civics at the local high school, but is being censored by her principal for teaching about local civic events. Peppered through this short novel are other colorful characters such as Lily’s best friend Phoebe. The mysterious Es, apparently Sachs’ niece, is in some part telling the story. Her accounting is interspersed with those of Sachs and Lily. Min & Larry are Sachs’ sister and brother in law, who are co-owners of the bookstore. Joe Sharpe is the local slumlord who wants to force people out of both their homes and businesses to appease a developer as well as line his pockets. Each one of these characters gives the story a well-roundedness and depth that would be missing if it was just about Sachs and Lily. I liked this book because of the depth of the story. I really enjoyed reading about what life was like at that time, which is when I was just a child. This book is short but a slow read. There is a profundity to it. As I said at the beginning, make sure you have your dictionary nearby, because there are words spoken and written that aren’t used everyday.