Childhood by André Alexis
Set in Petrolia, a Southern Ontario town close to the U.S. border, in the 1950s and 1960s and in Ottawa in the years that follow, the story is narrated by Thomas MacMillan. Through his clear-eyed vision and his unsentimental ordering of events, we meet a cast of characters. Among them are Edna MacMillan, Thomas's volatile, unpredictable Trinidadian grandmother, and Katarina, the mother who left Thomas at birth and then, ten years later, in the company of the sinister Mr. Mataf, swoops him up and takes him from Petrolia. Soon after, we meet the unforgettable Henry Wing, a Black man with Chinese blood, a gentle conjurer who lives in faded Victorian splendor and whose life's work as a self-styled scientist is collecting esoteric facts of the natural world. Childhood is an intricately textured chronicle of a life in which a man's quest for what is lost discloses the ambiguous nature of the past and leads him closer to the truth about himself.
Henry Holt & Company, 1998.
ISBN: 9780805059816. 259 pp.
Hardcover. Near fine in a near fine jacket.