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Fiction Jewish

Wiseman's Wager

by (author) Dave Margoshes

Radiant Press
Initial publish date
Jul 2014
Jewish, General, General
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jul 2014
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From an emergency room in Calgary, where an intern hears his poorly timed joke about suicide, Zan winds up on the psychologist's couch. But the doctor's efforts to investigate Zan's mental state are constantly stymied by his misfiring memory, his wry delivery, and his novelist's tendency to embellish. Is he misremembering, misrepresenting, crafting a better story or all of the above? Through the streets of Strike-era Winnipeg, Toronto during the Depression, and the 1980s Calgary of Zan's new life, Dave Margoshes's compellingly unreliable narrator treats the reader to a magnificent meditation on aging, family ties, faith, and the liquid concept of the truth.

About the author

Dave Margoshes is a poet and fiction writer. Most of his adult life has been spent in western Canada, for 35 years, in Saskatchewan. He began his writing life as a journalist, working as a reporter and editor on a number of daily newspapers in the U.S. and Canada, and has taught journalism ​and creative writing​. He has published twenty books of fiction, nonfiction and poetry. His work has appeared widely in literary magazines and anthologies, in Canada and beyond, including six times in the Best Canadian Stories volumes; he's been nominated for the Journey Prize​ several times and was a finalist in 2009. His Bix's Trumpet and Other Stories won two prizes at the 2007 Saskatchewan Book Awards, including Book of the Year. His collection of linked short stories A Book of Great Worth, was named one of's Top Hundred Books of 2012. Other prizes include the City of Regina Writing Award, twice; the Stephen Leacock Prize for Poetry in 1996 and the John V. Hicks Award for fiction in 2001. In 2022 he was the recipient of the Lieutenant Governor's Lifetime Achievement Award. Dave lives on an acreage near Saskatoon.

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Excerpt: Wiseman's Wager (by (author) Dave Margoshes)

Dave Margoshes




A Novel


This novel was inspired by the lives of the
American novelist Henry Roth,
and my late father-in-law Ira Silbar.


It’s dedicated to Ira’s memory.





FOUR FORTY-FIVE. The Earth wobbles on its axis like a gyroscope beginning to run down and the motion awakens Zan, jerking him upright in the dark like a puppet. Fitzgerald was both right and wrong. It is always night in the soul, but not always three a.m.

But what kind of a cockamayme believes in the soul anyway? He was at synagogue the day before, with Abe. Some nice people there, all right, but much talk of God. Synagogue is one thing, no harm there, maybe he’ll join, if they’ll have him, but what kind of a cockamayme believes in God? Two thousand years ago, three thousand, all that Bib- lical spirit, maybe then. Alter cockers like Abraham and Moses, heavy hitters like David, okay, those guys believing in God maybe made some sense. They didn’t know any better. But after the Romans, the Assyri- ans, the Inquisition, the pogroms, Auschwitz? Not to mention the new barbarians at Israel’s gates, suicide bombers and airplane hijackers. And not a peep from on high in all that time. Who the hell could believe in a God like that? Zan gives his head a shake and burrows it back into the pillow.


“JAN. 1, 1989. A new year. Celebrated by sleeping late. No hangover – and why should there be?”

Zan makes this entry in his journal between his first cup of cof- fee and the second. Why, indeed? He hasn’t had a drink in as many years as he’s been keeping the journal, twenty-three years exactly, not since Jan. 1, 1966, almost two years after – he has to pause for a second to summon up her name – Rose, that’s it, Rose told him if he went away for the weekend not to bother coming back. He’d had his first meltdown then – breakup, breakdown, then fix up, if not exactly redemption. It had led eventually to Jack, the man who, he had grad- ually come to acknowledge, saved his life, putting him back together piece by piece like Humpty Dumpty. “You’re not really an alcoholic,” Jack had said after they’d been meeting for a couple of weeks. “You don’t even like to drink. You’re acting out some sort of a twisted image of yourself, a false self, this macho thing, men drink. You don’t need to prove you’re a man to anyone, certainly not yourself. Just stop.” He really had been that easy to read, it really had been that easy to quit what he’d thought was an addiction but was really just an obsession. One new year’s resolution that really worked.

He had forgotten that, or it hadn’t registered, which amounts to the same thing, Jack used to say; he was sixty years old then and already his memory was going. Neurological scar or emotional scar, it’s scar tissue just the same, and almost a quarter of a century later, that tissue was thick. Either way, getting things down on paper seemed like a prudent course of action, a record, a way of keeping tabs on himself. So Jack had told him. Zan had to laugh: “Telling a writer to write things down!” But in those days, when Jack said something, Zan tended to listen. He was his lifeline. Not like this Zelda woman – she tells Zan things, some- times he listens, more often not. What could she tell him he doesn’t already know? Eighty-two years old, almost eighty-three – old enough to be this girl’s grandfather! – he’s been around the block once or twice.

And what kind of a name for a woman is Zelda anyway?

He thinks, inevitably, of Fitzgerald again, his Zelda, of the craziness that man had to endure, the craziness he caused. Three a.m., well, maybe so.

He has his usual breakfast, a peeled orange, toast, a cup of the yogurt he makes on the windowsill the old-fashioned way, the way his mother used to do it, except with skim milk, in Mason jars. Afterwards, on a whim, he phones for a cab and rides to the airport, the preten- tiously named Calgary International, has a third cup of coffee and a sawdusty bran muffin in the coffee shop upstairs and watches, as much as he can through the glass brick windows, one arrival and one depar- ture. He could find a pay phone, call Abe, invite him to join him, but he knows Abe would just laugh, “what meshugener nonsense is this? Coffee at an airport? You farshluggineh?” All right, no Abe then. And there’s no one else.

He sits in a moulded plastic chair and dozes for a few minutes. Like the cliché of the drowning man, chunks of his life pass before his eyes in dream: snow-bound Winnipeg, his father’s horse, Luna’s toothy smile, the clicking of a typewriter, his grinning brothers, Goldie, Toronto, Rose, Las Vegas, Myrna, the incessant blank page.... He wakes with a start, shaking his head. Then he takes a cab back to his suite, feeling as if he has accomplished something after all. A the- atrical gesture, no more than that, ritual, but he can afford a little treat now and then. What with the exchange rate, the Social Security and university pensions he inherited from Myrna, their savings and the insurance go further in Canada, and with his own Canadian pensions and the royalties – royalties! Still hard to believe – he’s doing all right. Doing fine, actually.

“A new year, a new beginning,” he writes in his journal. It’s a brand new one, leather binding, the numbers “1989” embossed in gold, a pres- ent from Abe, ever the optimist. “Here, write something,” he said. When he was in the stalag in Germany, he told Zan, he kept a journal of his three-year imprisonment, so he wouldn’t forget, wrote something every day, even if only a word or two. Sometimes, he said, if he was being punished and had no paper or pencil, he scratched a few words with a stone on the wall. Just to leave a record, testimony that he’d been there. Once, he said, he’d scratched a word with his fingernail on the parchment-dry skin of his arm: “remember.”

“You keep a journal?” Zan was incredulous. “This is the first I’m hearing of this. You sure that really happened, or you making it up? Imagining it?”

“What, you think I tell you everything?” Abe said.

“Just arrived from the airport,” Zan writes now. “I’m ready to start the rest of my life.” He winces and crosses the last phrase out, replacing it with “the next phase.” Then, taking a deep, theatrical breath, adds: “A new novel!!!!”

He’s been in Calgary since the middle of September, in fact, arriving just six weeks after Myrna’s death, but a little self-delusion never hurt anyone, that’s what Jack had told him. Twenty-three years ago – was it really that long? Jack had saved his life, more or less. That woman at Alberta Mental Health, this improbably named Zelda, didn’t believe in journals, other than to write down dreams, didn’t believe, he was sure, in self-deception, too much of a hard-headed realist, young and, as far as he could tell, naïve as she is. Jack had been a realist too, but with the heart of a romantic. She had a framed degree on the wall, doctor of psychology, but she was no Jack. Still, there was so much less of his life left to save.



September 17, 1988


ARRIVING AT THE AIRPORT THE FIRST TIME, more than three months earlier, he’d had one of those flashing-by out-of-body experiences, if that was the right term for it. He’d had them occasionally over the past few years, never when he was shaving or brushing his teeth or for some other reason standing square in front of a mirror gazing at himself, no, then he was always only himself – the same Zan as ever he’d been, only older, obviously, and a little the worse for wear – and that was who he would see. But sometimes, walking down a street in Las Vegas – not on the casino strip with all its crazy street life and where he was unlikely to go at any rate, but in the regular city, which was not all that different than Calgary, with stores and street corners and houses and unexpected moments of grace like a young woman smiling at him at a bus stop, the bus driver calling him “sir” – he would catch a glimpse of himself in a store’s plate glass window through the corner of his eye and would be startled by the image of an old man, bent, shuffling, white-haired, sallow-faced, slightly shabby clothes hanging off him scarecrow fashion.... Was that him? He knew it was, knew, too, that those taken-by-surprise moments revealed more who he really was than any length of gazing fondly – hair still thick, skin still remarkably smooth – or even critically – nose too big, too bent, chin too weak, eyes too small, deficiencies in his face he’d been finding most of his conscious life – at himself in the bathroom mirror, where the face he presented to himself was the same one he’d had all his life only...altered, that was it, altered in some way, matured, he liked to think, with a self-pricking chuckle, but only himself, the one he knew so well. The glimpses of himself he caught through the corner of his eye, taken unawares, was a different Zan, the Zan he realized he was becoming, would become, and the feeling always reminded him of that shivery sensation he’d sometimes get as a boy when Abe or Saul would say, “What’s the matter? Someone walking on your grave? Someone pissing in your ear?”

His brothers would always look away then, remembering Adam, and feeling the fool for having reminded him, that mention of a grave. They all missed Adam, of course, but the consensus in the family seemed to be that Zan, having lost what amounted to half of himself, missed him the most, that he needed to be sheltered from painful memories. Zan himself was not so sure; he’d already shifted his atten- tion and affections to Abe, just one year older and enough like him to be a virtual twin.

Now here was Abe, caught not full on but in the first moment as Zan stepped off the escalator and through a doorway into the already- crowded arrival area and through the corner of his eye, just for a mo- ment, there he was, small, shrunken really, stooped, shuffling, almost bald, gaunt...almost a dead man, that’s who was here to greet him, his twin – well, his proxy twin – a dead man. The moment dissolved as quickly as it had formed, Zan lost sight of him in the hustle and bustle around the still dormant baggage carousel, the swirl of elbows and heads above the crowd, and when he saw his brother again – his only surviving brother – full on this time, Abe had reverted back into him- self, a bit more stooped, a bit more shrunken, head almost bald, the glistening scalp at the top of his skull frosted with wisps of snowy hair still growing behind and just above the slightly protruding ears, but in every other way an almost-mirror image of Zan, two old men, miles closer to the end than the start. Twins not twins.

Still, Zan couldn’t resist asking, as they stood at arm’s length facing each other, “Who the hell are you?”

“Who the hell are you?” he repeated, louder.
“Who am I? Just your brother for all of your life, you putz. You’re getting senile finally?”
“My brother, no, my brother is a boy like me.”
“A boy, my brother is a boy.”
“A boy!” No one could snort like Abe.
“Well, all right, a teenager. A young man maybe. Middle-aged even, maybe, in his prime. But an old man like you? How could my own twin brother be old enough to be my father, my grandfather maybe?”

“Twin!” Abe said scornfully, as if speaking not to Zan but a passerby. “Always my meshugener brother lives in the twilight zone.” No one Zan had ever encountered in his long, somewhat eventful life could ever quite match the sardonic tone that Abe had long ago perfected. The two of them, so alike they even talked alike, but the tone, Abe’s tone always different. It came, Zan imagined, from talking to boxers and boxing managers, to cops, to prison guards, to German interrogators.

With that, the brothers had embraced, and there it was again, through the corner of Zan’s eye, in the large glass wall separating the crowded arrival area from the airport lobby proper, the image of two old men caught in a bearclutch, one with a full head of white hair, the other almost bald, both bent, shrunken, shabby caricatures of the men they had once been, though even in their straight-standing prime they’d both been half a head shorter than most men. “So, you’re glad to see me, Abela, or is that a gun in your pocket?” Zan asked, hoping to break the ice.

Abe snorted again: “Always with you the gun.”
“Just a joke,” Zan protested.
“Right, always with you a joke.”
The two brothers eyed each other warily, like boxers in the ring taking each other’s measure, then embraced each other again, so quickly it left Zan wondering later whether he had made the first move or Abe had.

“Dancing,” Zan said.

“What’s that?”They were struggling out of each other’s embrace, gazing at each other’s faces. Anyone walking by would have had no difficulty seeing the fondness in either man’s eyes.

“Dancing, not walking.” And, after a moment when Abe’s incom- prehension became clear, “On our graves. And not someone, a whole street gang.”

“Meshugener,” Abe replied, shaking his head. “So, is that it, Pantsy, that one little bag, or you have maybe some luggage?”

They’d turned to the carousel that, at that very moment, cleared its throat and lurched into life. On a pedestal above the mouth beginning to vomit suitcases stood a dinosaur, one of those big man-eaters, a Something-or-other Rex, not life-size but big enough that the sight of it rocked Zan back on his heels, ten feet high perhaps, green with stunted front legs and a huge head with beady, menacing eyes. The rumble that Zan had been hearing, he realized, was not the baggage carousel but was emanating from this mechanical creature’s moving jaws. “What the hell?”

“Oh, that’s from the museum,” Abe said. “There was a fire there, so they put it here for awhile, let the poor boychic get some air.”

“To greet the other dinosaurs. And here we are, dinosaurs three, you and me and our friend. I’m relieved to hear that rumbling isn’t my stomach.”

“What?” Abe said. “They didn’t feed you on the plane?”


THREE DAYS LATER, stuffed with roast chicken prepared much the way their mother had, and flaky-crusted apple pie and other examples of Abe’s not inconsiderable skills in the kitchen, he’d found himself at the General Hospital, in Emergency, having his insides reamed out. His bowels hadn’t twitched for almost a week.

“Constipation I’m used to,” he told the intern who examined him first. “This is something special.”

The intern placed two fingers against his swollen belly and pressed lightly. “Hurt?”

“Ouch! Hurt? You might say so. I feel like I’m dying, even without the punch in the belly. This is a hell of a way to go out....”

“I don’t think you’re in any danger of dying,” the intern said. He had a crooked smile, bad teeth, looked no older than sixteen.

“Maybe I should just kill myself and get it over with,” Zan said. “Just keep eating till I burst and go out in a blaze of glory.”

A week after that, at the suggestion of a social worker at the hos- pital, he was at Mental Health downtown, spilling his guts again.

“We’ll start with a medical history,” the woman said.

“I don’t really need to be here,” Zan explained, for the second or third time. “They insisted at the hospital, but it’s really not necessary. I’m no crazier than any other bedbug.”

The woman had a pleasant enough smile. She was in her late twenties, no older than thirty, Zan was sure, and no doubt a rookie – no need to bring out a seasoned pro for a garden-variety case like him. Nice looking, just slightly overweight, thick, dark curls caught up in a ponytail, light milk-chocolate skin, interracial, he guessed, black and white. She wore a fitted blue suit of what he judged to be a good material and a crisp white blouse. Everything about her was professional, clin- ical, except her black-framed glasses, which seemed too old for her, making her look like a cartoon librarian or old-maid schoolteacher. Zan would have expected big round lenses, something to echo her round face and giving her an owlish look.“It’s just standard procedure, really,” she said. She glanced cursorily at the chart that had preceded him. “No one is assuming anything.”

“It must be the water,” he explained, in reference to the first cleansing. “It’s hard, they tell me, harder than I’m used to. I didn’t eat anything I don’t always, just more of it. My brother inherited that much from our mother, an insistence that you eat till you’re bursting. This was constipation with a capital C. The tunnel was cemented closed. They had to use jackhammers to get me open. Excuse my vul- garity, please.”

The therapist eyed him warily and made a brief note. The tag on the breast of her collarless jacket read “Zelda.” What an old-fashioned name, and another Z, just like him. Zan chuckled.

“Zelda, that was Fitzgerald’s wife’s name, F. Scott Fitzgerald,” he’d exclaimed when she introduced herself.“The novelist? The Great Gatsby?”

“Yes, I know. My father was a fan.”
“Well, me too. Smart fellow, your dad. Give him my regards.” Zan had her card in his hand but he’d already forgotten her last name. Zelda, it should be something Russian or Ukrainian maybe, but no, a regular white-bread Anglo name, Mc-something, just like Luna’s, white bread despite her colour. Maybe she really was named after Zelda Fitzgerald.

He’d forgotten Jack’s last name too, and long ago lost his card, which made writing to him all but impossible. He might have been able to track him down, with some effort – he’d been affiliated with the University of Toronto – but didn’t know how, lacked the energy to try. Anyway, what could Jack possibly say, presuming he was even still in practice, still alive, if his phone should ring some day and it was Zan, back yet again from the almost dead. He longed for those days when his appointments would be for eleven o’clock. Monday and he and Jack would go for lunch afterwards, the seamless monologue spinning on for another hour or more. Strictly unethical, Jack always said, “but I find you irresistible.”

This woman looked like she could resist. She was browsing through the chart on her lap. “It’s not just that, though,” she said. “Constipation. At the hospital you said something that made them think you might hurt yourself. There’s a note here.”

For a moment, Zan was nonplussed. “Me? No, I don’t think so.” He paused to think. “Maybe I said something like ‘What’s the use of living?’ But suicide? No. Believe me, Miss Zelda, excuse me, Doctor Zelda, I’ve been in worse spots and the thought never entered my mind. When I feel down, I always remember the advice some wise man gave me years ago: ‘Don’t give the bastards the satisfaction.’”

The woman looked at him appraisingly. “All right, good.” She made a note.

“I see you’ve had some heart trouble?”

“Heart attacks, I lost track of how many. Nothing too serious. It runs in the family.”

She raised an eyebrow.

“Father, dead young. A brother, very young. An uncle.... And my sister – who knew women had heart attacks? But I’m still here, still among the walking-arounds.”

“And bypass surgery. Single? Double?”
“Double is for kids. I had six. You should see the scars on my leg where they took the veins.” Zan shook his head and closed his eyes, marshalling something. He was used to giving medical history. “All of this you can get in detail from the hospital in Las Vegas. They knew me by my first name there, I was a regular. Thank some god Myrna – that was my wife – had good insurance. I gave the particulars to the nurses at the hospital here, the General? It took an hour, almost.”

“I know, but indulge me, please. Anything else?”

“No offence meant. Let’s see. A stroke last year, not a big one. A bit of a slur when I talk – maybe you can hear it? That’s all that’s left. Arthritis, too, not so bad today.” He wiggled the fingers of his right hand to demonstrate their flexibility. “Falls – last year, a broken collar- bone, four months healing, it still hurts if I move my head too fast. And I almost forgot, the Big Fall, out of a tree, on my head, when I was eight or nine. I still have a lump.” He reached up to stroke the back of his head, where there was a visible swelling in the pink scalp, though in fact it was the result of banging his head in the shower that morning, clumsy as ever. Abe’s bathroom had an old-fashioned tub, with a plastic hose hooked up by wire and held in place by a jumper cable clamp, its handles still clad in red rubber.

“Also scarlet fever, then rheumatic fever, when I was ten, that’s the source of the bum ticker, or maybe the bum ticker brought on the fever, I don’t know. Either way, bad valves all my life. It kept me out of the war, I can tell you that. The Second World War, that is, maybe your dad mentioned it to you. Killed my career as a weightlifter and a sprinter, too. Always I was a little smaller than I should have been, the runt of the litter, except that the whole litter, all my brothers and my sister, shorties, like our dad. Oh, and St. Vitus’s dance the next year, or maybe it was the same. I never did catch up on that year I lost, always a step behind somehow, in school and everything else. I don’t remem- ber that year very well.” He didn’t mention Adam – not out of deceit, just genuine forgetfulness. He hadn’t thought of that long-dead brother, his true twin, other than in a fleeting way, in a long time.

Instead, he remembered the excruciating hours and days of bore- dom, lying in bed at St. Joseph’s Hospital, just a few blocks from his own house but a world away from his life there, excruciating boredom broken finally by his discovery of books – Grimms’ fairy tales, Greek myths, Kipling, Robert Louis Stevenson, Dickens, Conan Doyle, Jules Verne, Jack London, a whole other world revealed to him, worlds within worlds.

“I should think not,” Zelda said. “Not a lot of fun for a growing boy.”

“Sickness isn’t a lot of fun for anybody, and I’m an authority on the subject. Oh, and did I mention macular something in my eyes....”

“Degeneration,” Zelda said.

Zan frowned. “That’s it, but you have to pronounce it like you’re making a moral judgment? A degenerate I’m not, not yet. Going blind, that’s the main thing.The main thing.The main thing is,nature’s send- ing me a message.”


“And I’m a little hard of hearing, so I don’t always hear messages the first time.”

Zelda smiled.

Zan tapped his temple. “And this sort of thing.” “Mental, you mean?”
“Mental, yes. Not loony bin, exactly, but...” “Yes?”

“A breakdown, they called it.” Zan pronounced the word as if there were a sour taste in his mouth. “Twice. The first time, run-of-the-mill depression, things...not going well.” He paused. “The second time, a little more dramatic. Marriage falling apart, drinking too much, a lot of things....This was all a long time ago.”

“Suicide attempts?”

“Ah. They said it might have been, I said it was an accident...too many pills. To tell you the truth, I don’t remember. But I don’t think so.”

“But you were hospitalized. And this was where? When?”

“The first time or the second? I guess it doesn’t matter, both the same place. I was a regular. Toronto, Queen Street Mental Health something or other, 1950-something, then 1960-something. There was actually a nurse there the second time who remembered me from the first! Wel- come back, Mr. Wiseman, she said. You could check with them maybe, you really want to know. And then, the second time, private therapy, something like this. A wonderful fellow. Jack...Jack something.”

Zelda was scribbling furiously, reminding him of Jack, whose pen- manship was unreadable. Zan shrugged. “That’s the other thing, the memory doesn’t work so good any more.”

“Yes. That’s okay.” She put the pen down and looked up.

“And what brought you to Calgary, Mr. Wiseman?” It seemed like more of a bureaucratic question than a medical one.

“Don’t worry, not my own. For that I’m not ready yet.

My...wife...died. I could have stayed where I was, but... my brother Abe, he lives here. He’s the only mishpokhe I got. I didn’t want him to have to worry.”

“No children?”

Zan hesitated for a moment. “Not really. A couple miscarriages, a long time ago. Not me, my wife...excuse me, I forget...Rose. Rose.” He shook his head. “That’s not really a child, though, is it? A couple step- kids, children of the next wife, the one who just died. Myrna. But they were already adults when I met them, they never lived with us, so that never counted. Not really. More like friendly neighbours than children.”

“No other family?”

“A few nieces and nephews, second and third cousins, nobody I was ever close to. My brother, Abe, he has a daughter, lives in Vancou- ver. My niece, Ana, named for our sister Annie. A son too he had, Benjy, a long time dead, still a little boy. Abe and Ana, I don’t think they get on that well, but where’s the surprise there? Nobody gets on with Abe. There’s a picture of her in his house, all grown up, I didn’t even recognize her, that’s how close we are. I’ve been living out of the country for twenty years, hardly ever got back, just for funerals. Every- body else dead, my parents long ago, of course, my other brothers and sister, my wives....”

“You had other wives?”

“Wives, girlfriends....” He held up one hand, the fingers splayed, first one finger, then another, half bent down. “It’s hard to remember how many, and which was which category. But all dead, so what’s the difference?” He paused again, just for a beat, but he saw the woman put pen to paper, so she wasn’t unalert. “I’m alone, and Abe is too – or might as well be.” Zelda looked up. “His wife, Dolly, she’s in a coma, some rare disease, I forget what – ten, twelve years now, something like that, not much change, and before that, she’s an invalid for years – so he’s as good as alone. My brother, he’s the other pea in the pod, he can love me, he can hate me – I’m not saying he does; I can drive him crazy, and the same goes both ways, but he can’t be disinterested. He looks in the mirror, he sees me; I look, it’s him I see.”

The therapist smiled faintly. “You’re twins?”

“You got that right, Lady Doctor. But Abe, he’s the older, he’s the old man of the act; me, I’m the kid brother.”




Sept. 27, 1988 – Been to see a shrink – a woman, no less! Fresh out of shrink school, I imagine, and gullible as a kitten. I’ll have to be careful. Nice enough. Some numbskull at the hospital the other day made a connection between my anus and my brainus, so off they sent me. Poor woman, she must be lonely, or bored with her regular patients: she wants to see me once a week! Every Tuesday at two. With Jack, it was Mondays at eleven, so I guess I’m making progress! If I live long enough, I could fill a week with therapists. Not too likely! Still, maybe not such a bad idea to have someone to talk to – talk at! Talking to Abe is a little more complicated than I’d remembered. I talk, he talks, is anybody listening? We’re like two freight trains roar- ing down the track toward each other in the middle of the night, lights blinking, whistles moaning, someone watching might think, oh, no, disaster! But it’s okay, they’re on parallel tracks. That’s Abe and me, a lot of huffing and puffing but there’s really no danger of a collision, of us even meeting.

Editorial Reviews

"As his tells of growing up in Winnipeg, joining the Communist Party, falling in and out and in of love, author Margoshes intersperses Zan's spoken version with the history Zan knows is true, giving us a full-fledged character as tenacious and delightful as the novel itself...By the end, the book is exactly like Zan himself; alternately hilarious, charming, frustrating, and ultimately unforgettable.", Publishers Weekly

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