"Ray Robertson is an irrepressible voice, with brass balls, and a heart of gold. I Was There the Night He Died is a hilarious, moving, insightful, and timely piece of modern realism, delightfully void of literary pretension. Here, at last, is a novel that rocks and rolls."- Jonathan Evison, author of The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving
"So," she says. "Who died tonight?"
Sam Samson, meet Samantha. Sam's a novelist: his dad has Alzheimer's, his mother died of stroke, hiswife was killed seventeen months ago in a car crash. Samantha, eighteen, is a cutter. She lives across the street from Sam's parents' house. Marijuana and loneliness spark an unlikely friendship, which Sam finds hard to navigate, especially as his dad's condition worsens and the money for his care suddenly vanishes. Yet somehow, between a record player and a park bench, through late-night conversations about the deaths of Sam's musical heroes, and ultimately through each other, Sam and Samanthalearn to endure the things they fear most.
Starring a 40-something writer who stumbles through the small town he thought he'd left behind forever, and a marooned teenager who wishes she were anywhere else, I Was There The Night He Died is a saucy, swaggering look at loss, love, and the redeeming power of music in the twenty-first century.
Praise for Ray Robertson, A Women's National Book Association Great Group Reads Author, 2013 Nominee for the Hilary Weston Prize, 2011 and the Trillium Award, 2008
"Ray Robertson is the Jerry Lee Lewis of North American Letters." -Chuck Kinder, author of Honeymooners
"Beautifully written [and] well worth the effort."- Library Journal    "Robertson's art is as character-driven as Mordecai Richler's ... he wants us all to behave better and doesn't care who he angers along the way."- Globe and Mail
About the author
Ray Robertson is the author of five novels: What Happened Later, Gently Down the Stream, Home Movies, Heroes, and Moody Food. The latter two received starred reviews from Quill & Quire, and the last made it to the top one hundred lists of The Globe and Mail and The Vancouver Sun. In 2004, Ray published Mental Hygiene, a collection of his articles, essays, and book reviews. Ray lives in Toronto, where he teaches Creative Writing at the University of Toronto.
"Ray Robertson is an irrepressible voice, with brass balls, and a heart of gold. I Was There the Night He Died is a hilarious, moving, insightful, and timely piece of modern realism, delightfully void of literary pretension. Here, at last, is a novel that rocks and rolls." - Jonathan Evison, author of The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving
"Ray Robertson returns with a novel that considers themes of death, loss, and self-harm, all presented with a folk singe's slouchedbut sturdy backbone and a cowboy's loaded smile ... If there's one thing Robertson gets just right, it's heartbreak." - Quill & Quire
" I Was There The Night He Died doesn't read like a lot of Canadian fiction. It's urban, it has a lot of alt country and obscure rock and roll in it, and it's not trying to turn anyone into a better human being. It's just a great story populated by some very real, very flawed characters ... many of us will remember fondly a life not too far removed from ourown, and have a laugh on the way." - David Worsley, bookseller, Words Worth Books (Waterloo, ON)
"I have read and enjoyed some of Robertson's books, including What Happened Later, David and Why Not? What makes his books even more interesting to me is the fact they are set in Chatham. The way he describes neighbourhoods and places, I can see it in my mind's eye." - Chatham Daily News
"The novel is portrait of a self-medicating man's midlife crisis, a testimony to love's persistence despite death and decline, and ultimately a passionate defence of the power of popular music to change our lives." - Chatham This Week
" I Was There The Night He Died doesn't read like a lot of Canadian fiction. It's urban, has a lot of alt-country and obscure rock and roll in it, and it's not trying to turn anyone into a better human being. It's just a great story populated by some very real, very flawed characters. Granted, no one who works for the Chatham Chamber of Commerce will be too thrilled, but I think many of the rest of us will remember fondly a life not too far removed from our own, and have a laugh on the way." - 49th Shelf via Cord Community
"Sharp-tongued ... as Robertson ponders family and home as well as 'what it means to love someone and to lose someone and to have to go on living anyway,' he presents an intriguing character whose very real troubles are offset by bright flashes of hope." - Publisher's Weekly
" I Was There the Night He Died, [Ray Robertson's] seventh novel, is an absorbing and hilarious read, despite the most tragic of narratives ... filled with sly wit and keen observation ... an exceptional novel by one of the country's finest literary voices." - National Post
"Penned in the stark-yet-warm rock'n'roll prose that has become his signature ... Robertson creates characters who dance and sing even as they suffer the malaise of life ... [and] has a great deal of fun with his chosen profession, poking sly jabs at the stereotypical image of the writer while at the same time paying tribute to it." - Winnipeg Review
"An uplifting read ... the style is writerly, self-conscious and poignant  ... a redemptive story about love despite the prevalence and certainty of death." - The Globe & Mail