The mouth she drew with her red lip-liner was bigger and more shapely than her own, and it made me think, not for the first time, how wonderful life would be if I could draw a better me.
Twelve-year-old Jasper is watching his mother, a sometime model named Corinne, prepare herself for what he does not realize will become an unannounced escape from the life they share in Winnipeg. A short trip out of the city turns into what Corinne calls a summer of adventure, as they drive with no set destination across the prairies. Dean, the generous story-telling boyfriend Corinne is determined to flee, vanishes in the dust rising behind her Corvair – the last and biggest gift he gave her. As Jasper and his mother settle briefly in Edmonton, and then flee again for Vancouver, Jasper feels like an exile from a life in Winnipeg that offered stability, a place to find himself, and – in Dean – a substitute for the father he never knew.
In a Wide Country is the moving story of a mother and son traveling together, but in different directions, across western Canada in the summer of 1961. It’s about two people living in a web of stories, spun from their experiences but also from things they’ve heard, imagined, or misunderstood. In this debut novel by Robert Everett-Green, stories blend into each other from many sources: family anecdotes, movies, newspapers and tales that Corinne improvises at her makeup table.
In a Wide Country is about growing up along the soft border between truth and illusion, and a boy’s awakening from a childhood ruled by stories more satisfying than true.
About the author
Robert Everett-Green was born in Edmonton and grew up there and on a farm in eastern Alberta. His short fiction has won a National Magazine Award (Silver), and his short non-fiction appears regularly in The Globe and Mail. He lives in Montreal.
“Inquisitive, precocious, and sexually adventurous, Jasper, the twelve-year-old narrator of In a Wide Country, travels from Winnipeg to Vancouver, mapping the same inner terrain Holden Caulfield traversed. But Jasper is searching for his father as well as for the mother he believes he knows. A fascinating reading experience.”
"A first novel without a single misstep, In a Wide Country showcases Robert Everett Green's unfaltering ability to fashion resonant set pieces from the raw materials fo human memory ... an affecting, enjoyable trip."
Montreal Review of Books
"A provocative exploration of masculine identity formation, and the precious and painful transition from the world of childhood to that of adults."
“One of those novels I read in one sitting. I had to find out what happened to the boy and his grifter mother going AWOL in a white Corvair. It was like watching a train wreck unfold in slow motion. Seductive, gripping.”
“Conjures the sixties without wallowing in nostalgic detail … in this ultimately tender novel, the point of love is love.”
The Globe and Mail
“In a Wide Country hit home … you will be, like me, amazed at the gripping nature of this novel, the quality of writing that takes to the road, the web of stories that is Canada.”
“It’s been a long time since I have enjoyed a novel so much, a first novel at that. The main characters, an out-of-work fashion model and her near-adolescent son, travel across half of Canada in search of a decent life, and we’re with them all the way. With his raw and credible characters and his spectacularly fine writing, Robert Everett-Green has given us a book for the ages.”