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Napoleon’s Retreat

What to make of Robert Napoleon Weary? Rich, anonymous, haunted by a failed act of terrorism twenty years in the past. And hiding. Hiding everywhere: in others’ stories; in false and misleading identities; in the ruined expectations of the last quarter of the century. Soon he will be gone for good, and he’ll take it all with him.rnrnIn the shifting landscape of language and memory, Robert Weary listens to the voices that murmur morning to night, to the tales rising out of the darkness to be told. The novel’s other characters can speak only when Weary shines the light on them: but they are there, sunny and ominous by turn: Hess, who lies dead in a cold Colorado creek, staring up through six inches of water; Monica, eternally 17, playing sax for Vern & the Minnows at Viola’s Dance Bar, upstairs from a dark street in a city populated by demons and shades; the monster Wittgenstein, put together out of spare parts in a Rosedale garage; Ellis Rancourt, Jaqui Bliss and The Peacock Angel; mad poet Angus McCuddy; Marie Leveau, bartender and ex-aerialist; and Robert Napoleon Lajoie, ballplayer.rnrnOutside of Robert Weary’s head, where can this rich cast of beings congregate? Maybe Weary’s great Toronto solstice party, set for June 21, 1993. They’ll be there, dead or alive.

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