In this spare, poetic novel, a young homeless man finds solace in friendship, falls prey to the machinations of a malevolent gang of thugs, and ultimately is swallowed up by the inevitability of consequences on the dangerous and deceptively sunny streets of L.A.
About the author
Ed Seaward is the author of a number of short stories and screenplays, including Mother Daughter Happiness, which was a finalist at the 2019 Pasadena International Film Festival. Fair is his first published novel. After thirty years in the corporate world, he now spends his time cashing pension cheques, writing, and volunteering with Canadian Authors-Toronto. He and his wife Barb split their time living in Georgetown, Ontario and Santa Monica, California.
- Short-listed, ReLit Award
Excerpt: Fair (by (author) Ed Seaward)
Eyan continues to plod through the sand, ignoring the grit collected in his ankle boots. He is ignored by topless men and near bottomless women, all glistening skin, some with the wet matted hair of salted swimmers. Eyan taps his fingers upon his palm. Sometimes he stops and glances into the distance, past everyone, looking at no one, while his fingers rest, then begin again their steady tap: tap tap tap on the palm of his hand.
Tappity tap tap.
Eyan's mind has always been a timeless sack of memories, movable, unbound and open to the whims of the sea breeze. To Eyan, until today, time is unknowable. His memories are unorganized, mere snatches of life, now, last week, last month, years gone by.
Tappity tap tap.
He leaves his memories to fly unfettered. He does not restrain their progress. His fingers stop tapping as he turns his other palm downward, using his previously tapping fingers to pull the cuff of his checkered shirt up his arm. He stares at the single stroke of black ink on the top of his wrist. He caresses the 1 gently, then begins to tap fingers on this black number: tappity tap tap. This 1 now captured as time.
Eyan stops tapping, his arms falling to his sides. He begins again to move through the sand, his feet collapsing away from him at every step.
He feels the dense light on the back of his neck as he crosses the smooth concrete bike path and walks through the children's playground near the park office. A cop sits in his black-and-white cruiser next to a vibrant orange Recreation and Parks truck. Seeing the cop makes Eyan nervous, although the cop does not look at him. Eyan dislikes policemen. He distrusts cops. He thinks: The detective will be back on the streets waiting for me.
Eyan steps onto a patch of grass and continues around the pebbled concrete basketball court grunting with tall black men and tall black boys. He does not watch them. He moves off the grass and onto the promenade. Everybody calls it the boardwalk but there are no boards. Promenade or boardwalk, it is packed with people and Eyan wonders if it can still be a holiday. Or is it a Sunday? Until now, days named, holidays sorted into long weekends, have been unimportant. Until now: Eyan stops and briefly lifts his sleeve again and looks upon the black 1, the beginning of his calendar. He lets the cuff fall back into place and moves along the Venice Beach boardwalk without boards.
He shuffles through the streaming crowd of hot-pink halter tops and khaki cargo shorts and bright yellow thongs and purple fishnet shirts. Long blond hair rustles in the gentle sea breeze. Bald sweaty heads glimmer in the same dense light that pounds the back of Eyan's neck. He finds his way untouched through the throng and comes to rest near a friendly vendor of sunglasses and hats who does not bother Eyan with threatening looks. Eyan retrieves a cigarette from a knapsack pocket and lights the cigarette. He would offer one to the vendor but he is busy with a customer.
An old lady scuffs her way along on the boardwalk without boards. Eyan knows her but not her name. She is very old and tiny and wrinkly and thickly tanned and almost naked in her lime-green bikini. The old woman has a small brown mushy head. The first time Eyan saw her head he thought of an apple he once left on his bedside table when he was a boy. He went away with his mother and sister for many weeks and when he returned, the apple was brown and mushy, and when he poked it his finger disappeared into the decayed flesh.
Eyan does not acknowledge the old woman in the bikini as she scuffs past him. He looks nowhere as he taps the red-ember end of his cigarette onto the palm of his hand.
Tappity tap tap.
'The book's ultimate messages are in some ways straightforward, with Eyan a symbol of all the harmless individuals who slip through the cracks of a shamefully uncaring society. But the conclusions about who, or what is to blame for this are less clear--if there are indictments, they feel personal rather than structural. Fair ultimately leaves its readers to mull over the formidable Miltonian parallels around sin, fall, and redemption, and draw their own conclusions.'
The Manchester Review
'[Fair] made me step into a world where there is no meaning, or purpose, where every day is just a copy of the previous day, and people are ghosts in a mental state that is neither awake nor asleep. That middle place, where Eyan lives most of his life, is a tragic remembrance of all the people who are left behind by this society of ours. Broken lives, barely lived, and people who wonder around without a place to rest, owners only of their memories of what used to be a home.... I cried reading this novel, for Eyan, for the professor, for all who have to live out there, in the open.'
A. B. Neilly
'Though the story plants itself in dark territory, it's not devoid of hope; Eyan's notebook is an especially potent indicator that he continually strives to understand those around him. Seaward's narrative is smoothly nonlinear, lucidly depicting flashbacks and memories. And while Eyan's perspective isn't strictly reliable (he's completely unaware of how much time passes), supporting characters are distinctive.... Relentlessly depressing but superbly composed story of a tragically lost soul.'