Myrtle is not one of those communities with a town historian or a roster of famous residents. Myrtle does, however, have a poultry plant, and looming above the plant are the eagles, massive birds that roost in trees and feast on entrails left by workers, creatures synonymous with power, freedom and might. The story starts with a newspaper photo taken in an obscure Nova Scotia town after the murder of eight bald eagles. The bizarre photo wins a contest and, over time, the unidentified girl in the foreground becomes, like Diane Arbus's Child with Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park, infamous. Rita Van Loon decides, after seven painful years, to explain herself and the events surrounding the murders. The Most Heartless Town in Canada looks at media agendas, amateur sport, family dynamics, and the divide between rural and urban Canada.
Selected Praise: "... McCluskey's cast of characters 'and it is quite large' is anything but ordinary, especially when it comes to Pammy Pottie, Rita's well-meaning but luckless swim coach, and her motley crew of swimmers. Myrtle is full of oddballs, which is lucky for us, because that, more than anything else, is what gives this novel its quirky charm." (Quill and Quire)
"The Most Heartless Town in Canada is explicitly about bearing false witness to a place and what that does to the people there. (It's also extremely funny.) ..." (The Globe and Mail)
"McCluskey's complex small town terrific" (Winnipeg Free Press)
Elaine McCluskey writes about the people you might find in the corners of life. She has published three short story collections and one novel. One story was a Journey Prize finalist; another placed in the Fish international contest in Ireland. Her work has appeared in journals such as Room, The Dalhousie Review, subTerrain, The Antigonish Review, Fiddlehead, Other Voices, as well as anthologies. She lives in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, with her husband, a news photographer. When not writing fiction, McCluskey, a former Canadian Press bureau chief, teaches journalism part-time and follows sprint kayak competition. She has two children.