I am from Halifax, salt-water city, a place of silted genius, sudden women, figures floating in all waters. “People from Halifax are all famous,” my sister Faith has said. “Because everyone in Halifax knows each other’s business.”
From basement rec rooms to midnight railway tracks, Action Transfers to Smarties boxes crammed with joints, from Paul McCartney on the kitchen radio to their furious teenaged cover of The Ramones, Aubrey McKee and his familiars navigate late adolescence amidst the old-monied decadence of Halifax. An arcana of oddball angels, Alex Pugsley’s long-awaited debut novel follows rich-kid drug dealers and junior tennis brats, émigré heart surgeons and small-time thugs, renegade private school girls and runaway children as they try to make sense of the city into which they’ve been born. Part coming-of-age-story, part social chronicle, and part study of the myths that define our growing up, Aubrey McKee introduces a breathtakingly original new voice.
Alex Pugsley is a writer and filmmaker originally from Nova Scotia. He is the co-author of the novel Kay Darling. A winner of multiple awards, including the Journey Prize, his fiction has appeared in Brick, The Walrus, and McSweeney’s, among other publications, and for the last two years in Best Canadian Stories. As a screenwriter or story editor, he’s worked on over 170 episodes of television, writing for performers such as Dan Aykroyd, Mark McKinney, and Michael Cera. Recently he wrote and directed the film Dirty Singles, which was nominated for Best Canadian Feature at the Vancouver International Film Festival and is available now on iTunes.
Praise for Aubrey McKee
“Aubrey McKee is no austere, white-walled art gallery of a novel. It’s abundant, highly decorated, and unafraid of extravagance, of stylistic excess ... From ordinary incidents — a childhood acquaintance, marital strife, a wedding — as well as a few extraordinary ones, Aubrey McKee builds a dazzling and complicated world, a childhood in Halifax as a vibrant universe in itself. While Pugsley’s literary performance is an immediate delight, the portrait of the early days of a 'wayward oddity' lingers long after.”—Toronto Star
“Evoking comparisons in both style and substance to the work of John Irving and Robertson Davies in its assemblage of perceptive, richly detailed character studies ... The life of a Canadian city is revealed with verve and insight.”—Kirkus
“The mesmerizing, kaleidoscopic Halifax depicted in Aubrey McKee is as enchanted as it is benighted, an adolescent fever-dream. This is a rollicking, strange and unforgettable coming of age novel unlike anything you've ever read.”—Lynn Coady, Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning author of Hellgoing
“His prose style is among the finest anywhere: humorous, economical, deft without sacrificing accessibility, capable of laying bare the complicated depths, the tenderness, and the strangeness of personal relationships.”—Roo Borson, Griffin Poetry Prize-winning author of Short Journey Upriver Toward Oishida
“Alex Pugsley’s novel, Aubrey McKee, is a whip-smart portrait of the artist at the end of the twentieth century. Funny and wildly intelligent, it captures a somewhat tragic cohort of young, ambitious Haligonians trying to become themselves, all seen through the eyes of the narrator, a young man of incomplete wisdom. In quicksilver prose, Pugsley shows us a whole generation, some of whom are lost, some found, but all viewed with a profound, comic humanity.”—Michael Redhill, Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning author of Bellevue Square
“Although many peoples’ stories comprise the whole of Aubrey McKee, the city of Halifax is also a feature character ... the reverence Pugsley provides about Halifax will resonate with anyone thinking about their own hometown, no matter its size or location ... The richly defined personalities in Aubrey McKee are void of pretense or judgment and are, at once, knowable. Like a favourite song, it’s the hook that makes the adventures of Aubrey McKee and those he cares about so memorable.”—Winnipeg Free Press
“A wonderful book, it absolutely floored me. It's been a very long time since I've read anything like it ... I found Aubrey McKee to be more reminiscent of Dubliners by James Joyce, not only because the sense of place is so strong, but because the narrative in this book is told through interconnected stories.”—Bookin’
Praise for Alex Pugsley
“Delightful, funny and real: The authors have managed to uncover the twisted and often hilarious souls of their characters without a hint of pretense or sentimentality.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Sister-sister, man-man, man-woman relationships are examined with authenticity and readers will experience vicariously these hip, chaotic lives.”—Publishers Weekly
“With more than a passing resemblance to J. D. Salinger, the authors accomplish something like what he did in Fanny and Zooey: to introduce fully two siblings, older and younger, at critical points in their lives ... When you finish the book, you might find yourself starting it again.”—Los Angeles Reader
“An intelligent, fresh, witty look at how three twentysomethings live near the end of the 20th century, written in the ironic, sarcastic and sometimes cynical voices that have come to characterize a generation.”—Halifax Chronicle Herald