All Wendy Ashbubble has ever wanted is to draw comics as well as Charles Schultz’s Peanuts —and to one day see her creations grace the pages of a major daily newspaper. Growing up in Victoria in the 1970s, Wendy dreams of getting out, getting away … and getting recognition for her talent. And there’s another, never-whispered motivation that prompts her to seek her fortune: a deeply buried memory and unshakeable belief that her unknown father is Ronald Reagan, the fortieth president of the United States.
A chance meeting in Victoria with an attractive-but-mysterious travelling artist inspires Wendy to take the plunge, and she runs away to live in a dilapidated artists’ commune in San Francisco. There, amid the haze of top-quality weed, unbridled creativity, and unfettered sex, her dream begins to take tangible shape. With the aid of Frank Fleecen, an up-and-coming bonds trader and agent, Wendy’s Strays are soon competing for newsprint space against the likes of Berkeley Breathed, Jim Davis, and Bill Watterston … even against Wendy’s beloved Charles Schultz himself.
But there are darker shades on the pencilled horizon: the spectre of AIDS, unexplained disappearances, bad therapy, junk bonds, demonology, and SEC agents investigating Frank’s business protocols.
The Road Narrows As You Go is simultaneously the portrait of a young woman struggling to find her place and a bright, rollicking, unflinching depiction of the 1980s. It embodies all the brash optimism and ruthless amoralism of the decade, as well as its preoccupation with repressed memories, and fully captures the flavour of an uncertain but deeply vibrant era.
Lee Henderson is the award-winning author of The Broken Record Technique and The Man Game. His writing appears in the PEN Canada anthology Finding the Words and the speculative fiction anthology Darwin’s Bastards. For a decade he has written about contemporary Canadian artists for Border Crossings magazine. He has exhibited artwork in Vancouver, Toronto, and elsewhere, and curated shows of contemporary art and experimental music, including the inaugural selection for Hamish Hamilton Canada’s online gallery, The Looking Glass. He has led workshops for UBC and the Summer Literary Seminar and mentored at the Banff Centre for the Arts, and he currently teaches creative writing at the University of Victoria. His new novel, The Road Narrows As You Go, will be published by Hamish Hamilton in September 2014.
“Put Kavalier & Clay to one side, and Crumb, and Calvin & Hobbes. . . Henderson has contributed his own, outsized, rambunctious myth to the annals of comics, and of our literature.” - Globe and Mail
“With this novel, Lee Henderson gives us the 1980s, and so much more: creative spark, ambition, sex, and the darker pulls of history, time, and death. Henderson is inventive, playful, and deeply serious, and this ambitious novel includes all his gifts.” - Meg Wolitzer, author of The Interestings
“Lee Henderson fashions a boisterous, romantically dirty, and cannibalistic universe in which one of the great American art forms (the newspaper comic strip) and one of the most controversial American presidents (Ronald Reagan) are swirled together to create a brand new Peter Pan story about capitalism, art, selling out, and the darkness of growing up. It’s a wild, surprising, and heartbreaking adventure.” - Sheila Heti, author of How Should a Person Be?