This story begins with a phone call out of the blue: a lawyer tells a writer that his ninety-six-year-old father, with whom he has had no contact since the age of three and whom he has twice tried to find without success, has just died, leaving him nothing. Half-reluctant, half-fascinated, both angry and curious, Keith Maillard begins to research his father’s life. The result is a suspenseful work of historical reconstruction—a social history often reading like a detective story—as well as a psychologically acute portrait of the impact of a father’s absence. Walking a tightrope between the known and the unknown, and following a trail that takes him from Vancouver to Montreal to his native Wheeling, West Virginia, Keith Maillard has pulled off a book that only a novelist of his stature could write.
Keith Maillard is the author of fourteen novels, most recently Twin Studies, the winner of the Alberta Book of the Year Award in Fiction. Born and raised in West Virginia, he has lived in Vancouver for most of his adult life. He has been a musician, photographer, and journalist, and has taught creative writing at the University of British Columbia since 1989.
“This memoir is an astonishing act of generosity and tenacity, exploring the profound flaws of one family’s dynamics and the resiliency of the human spirit.”
Eden Robinson, author of Son of a Trickster
“Fatherless is Keith Maillard’s haunting response to that most ancient curse: Why, father, did you desert me? How, father, should I love you?”
Clark Blaise, author of I Had a Father
“Marvelous and brutally honest.”
Marc Harshman, author of Woman in Red Anorak and poet laureate of West Virginia