“…Heighton is also a poet”

  • Flight Paths of the Emperor (1992)
  • On Earth As It Is (1995)
  • The Admen Move on Lhasa: Writing and Culture in a Virtual World (1997)
  • The Shadow Boxer (2000)
  • Afterlands (2004)
  • Every Lost Country (2010)

I’m having trouble reading. I stopped reading Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Cancer Ward after 157 pages and I stopped reading Alex von Tunzelmann, Indian Summer: the Secret History of the End of an Empire after 153 pages and after almost two weeks and 235 pages I might put aside Steven Levy, Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution. The last is the most disappointing. I’ve been waiting to read this for years. Breaking up with a book: it’s not you; it’s me. Something about how he’s writing, how he’s telling the story and avoiding all the context I want somehow. I think I was spoiled by reading The Soul of a New Machine, and believing that anything about computers between 1955 and 1990 would be just as wonderful.

In 2010 I read Flight Paths of the Emperor as a palate cleanser, a short break, something completely different after reading, back-to-back, VS Naipaul, The Enigma of Arrival and David Fromkin, A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East. I finished Flight Paths of the Emperor late at night in a big chair at Our Town, in my new neighbourhood. Early June 2010, learning new streets and restaurants and reading books on a balcony with a view of the tallest poplar tree in Mount Pleasant. And in 2009 I read The Shadow Boxer over lunch in Kingsway, after we won our May campaign, walking up Stamford St to go to Cho Sun BBQ. And I finished it a week later in Port Alberni, drinking beer slowly, all day long. And most of all, reading Afterlands in 2008, in early December, after forgetting how to read over two campaigns and a brief gap of unemployment and an early snowfall and my first 50,000 word November. I read Afterlands in two days, reading all day and all night and learning how to read, how to take it all in at a glance and leave everything else out – how to disappear completely and never be found.

On Wednesday I went to Munro’s Books in Victoria, and today I went first to Book Warehouse on Broadway and then downtown to the Chapters on Robson and finally found Every Lost Country, brand new in paperback.  To quote: “A glorious novel” / “A stunning new novel” / “A truly exceptional novel”


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