It’s 1979 and Tom Buzby is thirteen years old and living in the small town of Chatham with his father and older sister. So far, so normal. But Tom’s dad is the local tattoo artist, his older sister might be in love with the new girl in town, and his Mom ran off and shacked up with pastor Bob who runs a Christian evangelical sect. And no one looks at Tom the same since he was brought back from the dead that time when he was eight. Tom delivers the Chatham Daily News, and he can give you all the news that’s fit to print about the folks around here.
Set in the year that real newspaper headlines told of the rise of Reagan and Mulroney and North America’s hard turn to the right, the year of the kidnapped American hostages in Iran and the end of the Western world’s blessedly ignorant isolation, 1979 is a novel of innocence not so much lost as smashed, and experience gained the hard way, the kind that brands memories forever and permanently changes lives.
Praise for 1979
“[An] entertaining new novel.” —Metro
“I’m always on board for a new Ray Robertson novel, and one wonders what will have to happen for him to get to the front rank of Canadian writing, as he so richly deserves…Ray has a light touch; writes clean, punchy sentences; and has a musicality and movement in his prose that is a singular gift. I’ll drop pretty much anything to read whatever he writes.” —49th Shelf
“One to watch for, if you enjoy small-town Canadian stories, is 1979 by Ray Robertson. Tom Buzby, a thirteen year-old living in Chatham, Ontario, narrates this sweetly nostalgic coming-of-age story about Tom’s developing interest in girls, his understanding of his parent’s divorce, and his discovery of various rock bands (you could make an amazing playlist from records mentioned in this novel). I also loved reading about the dynamic between Tom and his sister, Julie. What makes this story a true gem however, is how Tom’s narrative is interspersed with a glimpse into the very private lives of his neighbours, including the people whose papers he delivers, and those whose paths cross his for other reasons.” —Ottawa Public Library
Praise for Ray Robertson
“Sharp-tongued … as Robertson ponders family and home as well as ‘what it means to love someone and to lose someone and to have to go on living anyway,’ he presents an intriguing character whose very real troubles are offset by bright flashes of hope.”—Publishers Weekly
“… filled with sly wit and keen observation … an exceptional novel by one of the country’s finest literary voices.”—The National Post