About the Author

Lesley Choyce

No one has a clearer view of Atlantic Canada's literary endeavours over the past twenty years than Lesley Choyce. He is the founder of the literary journal Pottersfield Portfolio, and the publisher of Pottersfield Press. He has edited several fiction anthologies and has been the in-house editor of many books from Pottersfield Press including Making Waves, a collection of stories by emerging authors from Atlantic Canada. He is the author of more than fifty books in genres ranging from poetry and essays to autobiography, history and fiction for adults, young adults, and children. Among his recent books are the novels The Republic of Nothing, World Enough, and Cold Clear Morning, and the story collection Dance the Rocks Ashore. Choyce is the writer, host, and co-producer of the popular literary show television program, Off the Page with Lesley Choyce, which is broadcast across the country on Vision TV. He also teaches in the English department of Dalhousie University in Halifax and is leader of the rock band The Surf Poets.

Books by this Author
Accro d'la planche

Accro d'la planche

(Skate Freak)
edition:Paperback
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Accro d’la planche

Accro d’la planche

(Skate Freak)
edition:eBook
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An Avalanche of Ocean

An Avalanche of Ocean

The Life and Times of a Nova Scotia Immigrant
edition:Paperback
tagged : humorous
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Breaking Point

Breaking Point

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also available: Hardcover Paperback
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Broken Man on a Halifax Pier
Excerpt

Chapter 1

She never really told me why she was there at 6 a.m. on that damp Halifax morning in April. I can’t even rightly explain what I was doing there either, standing at the end of a dilapidated pier, staring into the dark waters of the harbour, lost in thought.

I suppose it had something to do with the fact that my life had gone to shit, that I no longer had a job, that I’d lost my life savings and was reduced to living in a “bachelor” apartment in the North End. Yeah, it might have had something to do with that. But I think that a guy like me, fifty-five years from being born, just finds himself eventually at a moment like this, staring into the water. Contemplating.

Even now, I like to think of it as a literary moment. I was a writer, after all. Not like a real writer. Not a Hemingway or Fitzgerald, not one of the greats. Not even one of the lesser greats. A pipsqueak of a writer. After playing at reporter for a number of years, the Tribune let me write features about anything I wanted. But, alas, the Tribune was no more. How could I know when I set about embarking on my so-called career that newspapers were going to slowly begin to vanish? I was a dodo bird. A dinosaur. Pick any extinct species and I was just that.

But if any of this is going to add up to anything, I should go back to the beginning. The whole convoluted tale will come out in due time. So let’s get back to April, the pier, the fog, the lone man standing by the edge of the water where once, long ago, the bodies from the ill-fated and legendary Titanic were landed ashore. This was a literary moment, remember. Ill-fated ship, April the cruelest month, my life a modern Shakespearean tragedy, man fallen from great heights (modest heights, really) through his own hubris (a word I had just recently added to my vocabulary). Man alone, alienated in a hostile universe. No, an uncaring universe. A universe that didn’t give a Monday-morning shit about him or most probably anything else.

And then she walked up to me.

I didn’t notice her at first, didn’t hear footsteps or anything. It was like she dropped out of the sleepy grey clouds hovering above. I was deep in reverie — yes, a grandiose, dark, endless, self-pitying reverie. A man feeling bad. Just plain bad. With no particular shred of hope for things to get better. Must have been painted all over my face.

“I get it,” she said with no other words of introduction. “Broken man.”

At first I thought it was just one of those many voices in my head. But then I looked in the direction from which the voice had come. It was a woman. A good-looking woman at that. All alone. On the pier at 6 a.m. by the misty misbegotten harbour.

“Get what?” I asked.

“Get you. ‘Broken man on a Halifax pier,’” she said. And her mouth went up on one corner. Not a smile exactly. An indication of a game.

“Oh,” I said. “Stan Rogers. ‘Barrett’s Privateers.’”

“Very good,” she said. “ Can I take your picture?”

“Sure,” I said. “But why would you want to take my picture?”

Instead of answering, she lifted a cellphone out of her purse, walked a step closer to me and clicked.

“Gonna post it on Facebook?” I asked. “You got your caption.”

“No. Nothing like that.” She walked another step closer, stared down at the water and then directly at me. For a second, I thought I knew her. Or at least that I had seen her somewhere before. Something about her was familiar.

“It looks cold and uninviting,” she said, nodding at the swirling foam in the harbour water below.

“I wasn’t going for a swim if that is what you were thinking.”

“No stones in your pockets? Did you forget them?”

“I’m not good at planning ahead,” I said. “Besides, I’m more of a bridge man. A leaper, if it ever comes to that. Unfortunately, they have the bridge walkways all caged in now. Always someone trying to take the fun out of everything. The bastards.”

Now she just stood there, not talking. Then she lifted her phone and took another photo. Closer up. Mug shot.

“You want me to take my clothes off?” I asked.

“It’s too cold. All I’d get is a picture of goosebumps.”

“True,” I said. I suddenly realized I was in the middle of a conversation with a rather attractive and mysterious woman. “Do I know you?” I asked.

“You’ve seen me. At least I’m guessing you have. If you haven’t, I’ll be pissed.”

I looked her over again. Inspecting. She noticed, did a little slow twirl. Front and back. I didn’t have a clue who she was.

“Give up?”

I nodded.

She looked a little miffed. I figured I should say something. “Well, you’re not the queen of England, I know that. Too young, too beautiful.” I was trying to pull it out of the trash can. She wasn’t young — forty something, fifty maybe — and not exactly classically beautiful, but she was truly pretty and absolutely most interesting. And I much preferred looking at her to staring down at the water.

She snapped another photo of me. I think I had a funny look on my face — man just thrown a lifeline, man shifting back from the brink from some abyss, man wandering alone in a wet world just given a blanket over his shoulders.

“What do you call that look? The one you just gave me.”

“I call it my happy look,” I said.

“You call that happy?”

“Relatively speaking. Happiness is relative, right?”

“Philosophy major?”

“English.”

“Ah. April is the cruelest month, right?”

“That’s exactly what I was thinking when you came along with Stan Rogers.”

“‘How I wish I was in Sherbrooke now.’”

“Sherbrooke. Nova Scotia or Quebec? I could never quite figure it out.”

I wondered if we’d stand there and trade Stan Rogers lyrics for the rest of the morning. It would have been fine by me. I had nothing better to do. Take her through the Northwest Passage, tracing one warm line, through a land so wild and savage.

“What comes next?” she asked.

“In ‘Barrett’s Privateers’?”

“Idiot. No. Right now.”

It had been a while since anyone had flirted with me. I was way out of practice.

“Um,” I must have said.

“Um. That’s all you got?” she asked with a sharp edge in her voice. “You, an English major. Can’t come up with a line from James fucking Joyce or John fucking Milton?”

For a split second I thought she was actually angry with me. I didn’t know then that she was an actor, that she’d been in movies. I was beginning to think she was deranged. I was curious to see if there were weapons involved.

The weapon was the phone — lifted, pointed, snapped. “That’s a real crowd-pleaser. ‘Man Befuddled by Woman’ reads the headline.”

“Headline, why headline?” I was wondering if she knew who I was.

“Just a phrase. Why does it matter?”

“It doesn’t,” I said. And I tried smiling. It had been a while. It hurt. I guess it showed.

“Ouch,” she said. “That looked painful.”

I wanted to explain my lack of happy moments in my recent tenure on the planet but clammed up, shrugged instead.

She must have liked the shrug. “Buy me breakfast?” she asked.

“I’m broke,” I said. Paused. “Well, I think I have five bucks and a couple of quarters. But I’m waiting for the banks to open.”

“Never heard of ATMs?”

“They don’t like me. I don’t know what it is. They just don’t seem to want to deal with a guy like me.”

“A guy like you?”

“Down on his luck.”

“Okay, you want to play that card? I’ll buy you breakfast.”

“Now you’re talking,” I said.

And so began a new chapter in my life. If I can stretch out the cinematic moment, I would say the sun came out, or it began to pour rain, or there were birds and flowers, quotes from Shakespeare or unison singing of “Fogarty’s Cove.” But there was none of that.

She touched my arm once. And we walked in silence to the Bluenose Restaurant on Hollis Street. She ordered poached eggs and toast. I ordered scrambled eggs and bacon. And then all the waiters and waitresses and morning-weary breakfast patrons broke into song.

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Carrie's Crowd

Carrie's Crowd

by Lesley Choyce
illustrated by Mark Thurman
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback
tagged : friendship
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Crash

Crash

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Dance the Rocks Ashore

Dance the Rocks Ashore

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also available: Paperback
tagged : literary
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Dumb Luck

Dumb Luck

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Ecstasy Conspiracy, The
Excerpt

And then, before him, sporting goods. A glass case and a wall rack. He wanted to sound like an old pro at these things. A sportsman. What was the right turn of phrase to avoid sounding like a hardened criminal or an idiot? 'Which one do you think would be good for shooting a publisher?' What the hell did he know about guns? There was something from "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber," wasn't there? What was the name of the gun there? "Excuse me, young man. I was looking for a...a Mauser."

Damn. Wrong one. The clerk looked like it was a bad joke. "I'm afraid we don't carry that sort of gun. Not much call for it around here."

Bloody right. Hemingway had them shooting lion and water buffalo. This was, after all, Toronto, not Nairobi. He felt frazzled. "Something in a Winchester, perhaps?"

The clerk shrugged his shoulders, pointed at the rack. "What you see is what we got."

Careless verb usage. DeMille studied the rack and then the case. God, he had it all wrong. Nothing but rifles. Rifles were too big, too obvious. How could he go in to polish off the details of a book contract with his publisher while sporting a rifle with an infrared scope? Not right at all. "You don't have anything smaller?"

"We have these pellet rifles here. They operate on CO2 cartridges."

"That's not it either. Well, thank you for your time."

"I hope you find what you're looking for." The young man was sincere. People were always nice at Canadian Tire. A would-be murderer comes in off the street looking for artillery and they're terribly apologetic about not being able to satisfy. Polite people, Canadians, even in Toronto.

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Famous at Last

Famous at Last

by Lesley Choyce
illustrated by Jill Quinn
edition:Paperback
tagged :
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Gone Bad

Gone Bad

edition:eBook
also available: Hardcover Paperback
tagged : violence
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Hell's Hotel

Hell's Hotel

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also available: Hardcover Paperback
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Identify

Identify

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Into the Wasteland

Into the Wasteland

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Jeremy Stone

Jeremy Stone

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Kryptonite

Kryptonite

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Los Pandemónium

Los Pandemónium

(Thunderbowl)
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Los Pandemonium

Los Pandemonium

(Thunderbowl)
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Excerpt

Tocamos por diez minutos, sin saltamos ni una nota. La voz de Al apenas se oía, mientras Drek y yo hacíamos las segundas voces, y creo que el micrófono estaba apagado. Al final, terminé con un acorde improvisado y largo en la guitarra. Y ¿saben qué? me salió super bien. Sonó mejor que nunca.
   Era como si la guitarra y mis dedos hubieran estado haciendo todo el trabajo mientras yo observaba desde afuera. Mis dedos se movían como pólvora. Las luces creaban una sensación mágica en todo el lugar. Llegamos al punto más alto y justo como lo teníamos practicado, paramos la música de pronto, de forma perfecta.

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Nova Scotia Love Stories

Nova Scotia Love Stories

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
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Off the Grid

Off the Grid

edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
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Peggy's Cove

Peggy's Cove

The Amazing History of a Coastal Village
edition:Paperback
tagged :
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Random

Random

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Rat

Rat

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also available: Paperback Hardcover
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Reacción

Reacción

(Reaction)
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Reaccion

Reaccion

(Reaction)
edition:Paperback
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Reaction

Reaction

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Reckless

Reckless

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Refuge Cove

Refuge Cove

edition:eBook
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Republic of Nothing

Republic of Nothing

Reader's Guide Edition
by Lesley Choyce
afterword by Neil Peart
edition:Paperback
tagged : literary
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Roid Rage

Roid Rage

edition:Paperback
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Running the Risk

Running the Risk

edition:eBook
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Scam

Scam

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Seven Ravens

Seven Ravens

Two summers in a life by the sea
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Skate Freak

Skate Freak

edition:eBook
also available: Hardcover Paperback
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Skunks for Breakfast

Skunks for Breakfast

by Lesley Choyce
illustrated by Brenda Jones
edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback
tagged :
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Sudden Impact

Sudden Impact

edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
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The Book of Michael

The Book of Michael

edition:eBook
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The Mi'kmaq Anthology Volume 2

The Mi'kmaq Anthology Volume 2

In Celebration of the Life of Rita Joe
edition:Paperback
tagged : canadian
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The Summer of Apartment X

The Summer of Apartment X

edition:eBook
tagged : literary
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The Thing You're Good At

The Thing You're Good At

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Thin Places
Excerpt

Inside
When you are young
you have
imaginary friends
right?
You
make them up and
hang out with them
have adventures you can
never have
with real people.
I had a whole crowd
of friends who
didn’t exist
outside of my head.
Real people were
well
boring.
Adults were the worst.
They say How are you?
And I usually say nothing
because I know they can’t handle
the truth.
Some ask What do you want to be
when you grow up?
And sometimes I answer
I want to live in my own kingdom
an island filled with amazing beings
only I can imagine.

My Imaginary Friends
They
spoke to me
and told me stories
urged me to do crazy things
like
make parachutes out of sheets
and jump from
the shed roof.
They suggested I should learn
to juggle knives
and study the nature of
fire.
They told me where to look for
ghosts
and demons
and sometimes they
were not lying
although sometimes
they just wanted trouble.
(My father said he had a plan
to destroy
my imaginary friends.
That made them very angry.
But I said
I would never let that happen.)
Mostly
late at night
they spoke to me
of amazing places
that could not possibly
exist.
The voices were always clear
and
sounded like me.
I guess they were really
just me
or parts of me.

Let Me Introduce Myself
My parents named me
Declan Lynch
Names are important
but
it’s also important to
remember
that someone usually your parents
just made up your name.
You were not born with it.
Think about that.
You
were just you
when you came into this world.
My mom and dad were the Lynches
living on an average street Maple Terrace
like the tree
with the little helicopter seeds.
The Lynches had their first and only kid
me
and said I looked like my great-grandfather
whose name was Declan Timothy Lynch.
I only saw pictures of my great-grandfather
much later
when I could focus my eyes.
I didn’t look anything like him
but
the name stuck.
Declan
or Deck sometimes
or Declan Patrick Lynch
when I was bad
which was often.
Just jumping from shed roofs
getting lost in malls
hiking deep into the tangled forest
behind my house
always determined to not come home on time
chasing ghosts and demons
and listening for the next bit of advice
from the voices in my head.

Parental Advice
My mother told my father
it was just a phase
I was going through
a very long phase
and I would grow out
of it.
(But she secretly told me
that she understood the voices
and that I should learn the difference
between the good voices
and bad ones.)
My father
was a sworn enemy
of my imaginary friends.
Your imagination
he said
plays tricks on you
dirty tricks.
When I asked him what he meant
he tried to explain
but grew frustrated
and stomped away.
I heard him say to my mother in the kitchen
Sometimes, Fiona
Sometimes I think
that boy is not our son
at all.
Maybe they made a mistake
at the hospital
and gave us
the wrong
child.

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Thunderbowl

Thunderbowl

edition:eBook
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Wave Warrior

Wave Warrior

edition:eBook
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Day Trips from Halifax

Day Trips from Halifax

edition:Paperback
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