Late Nights on Air, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


Harry Boyd, a hard-bitten refugee from failure in Toronto television, has returned to a small radio station in Yellowknife, Northern Canada.

There, in the summer of 1975, he falls in love with a voice on air, though the real woman, Dido Paris, is both a surprise and even more than he imagined. Dido and Harry are part of the cast of eccentric characters who form an unlikely group at the station.

Their loves and longings, their rivalries and entanglements, the stories of their pasts and what brought each of them to the North, form the centre.

One summer, on a canoe trip four of them make into the Arctic wilderness, they find the balance of love shifting, much as the balance of power in the North is being changed by the proposed Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline, threatening to displace Native people from their land.

Hay brings to bear her skewering intelligence into the frailties of the human heart and her ability to tell a spellbinding story written in gorgeous prose and laced with dark humour.


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I liked this book and I think the most identifiable theme that engendered that liking was the idea of the arbitrary nature of our life's directions. People live long or they die young; they stay in one place, or they travel long distances; they have one good relationship, or none, or many. Which out of these possibilities will actually occur is decided by coincidence or in brief moments in time, or by 'luck', or by someone else's arbitrary action.I also liked the northwest Canadian setting of this story - so much beyond my experience (I live in Australia) that I just enjoyed exploring this (physical) world with Elizabeth Hay as my leader and guide. I reckon she is a great observer of the natural world as well as a fine writer. Perhaps I would have liked the book even more there had been more focus on one character, but maybe not....perhaps this superficiality helps to reinforce the essential nature of the book's message.

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