Life amounts to nothing.
That's the considered opinion of Carl Anderson, recently retired McGill professor of religion. Lonely, aimless, embittered by his children, unable to derive significance from his long career, irked by the “putter-putter” meaninglessness of existence at the seniors residence he has been shipped off to, and both cursed and blessed with an infallible memory, Carl is spooked by the inevitability of impending weakness, illness, and death. He is also haunted by childhood trauma, the source of which, imagined or real, is beyond his power to access.
Carl befriends Shelley Randell, bookworm extraordinaire. An orphan, she is Westmount Library's goth librarian. Shelley has been HIV-positive since birth. As she is also 56 years younger than Carl, it's only natural that they become friends.
Carl hires Shelley to accompany him to Liberal, Kansas, where they uncover Carl's childhood history. The adventure doesn't go smoothly, however. They commit two crimes, and the first symptoms of Shelley's life-threatening illness appear.
After returning to Montreal Shelley refuses treatment, driving Carl crazy. His attempts to keep her alive become increasingly extreme. They jeopardize his financial security, his son's wellbeing, and, eventually, his own life.
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About the Author
Joel Wapnick is a professor at McGill University, where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in music education and related fields. The View North From Liberal Cemetery (2013) is his first novel.
Joel is an accomplished classical pianist and an expert Scrabble player, having won the World Championship, the Canadian Championship twice, and the North American Championship. He has written three books on the topic, the most recent of which is How to Play Scrabble Like a Champion (2010), published by Puzzlewright.