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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2009-03-10
  • Publisher: McClelland & Stewart Ltd
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One morning in Don Mills, Phil and his brother Jay agree to let their friend Norman Kitchen tag along on an adventure down into a ravine and what happens there at the hands of two pitilessteenagers changes all their lives forever. Years later the horrifying details are still unclear, smothered in layers of deliberate forgetting. Phil doesn't even remember the names: Ted and Terry? Tom and Tony? It's only when he descends into a crisis of his own that he comes to realize that perhaps, as he drunkenly tells a crisis line counsellor, "I went down into a ravine, and never really came back out." The Ravineis Phil's book we read it as he types it, in the basement apartment he's called home since his wife kicked him out for having an affair with a make-up girl. As he writes, and then corrects what he's written, we hear how he went from promising young playwright to successful, self-hating TV producer. We listen in on his disastrous late-night phone calls, and watch his brother (once a brilliant classical pianist) weep to himself as he plays Ravel andWaltzing Matildain a desolate bar.The Ravinetells us all about the influence ofThe Twilight Zoneon Phil's work and his life how it helped him meet his wife Veronica and then lose her, and how it led to the bizarredeath of his friend, TV star Edward Milligan. Sometimes, when Phil's drunk, a friend will look at what he's written so far and call him on it like when Jay tells Phil that he's remembered it all wrong: that he was just as good as Phil at tying knots back when they were in the cubs. Phil's "ravine"is his attempt to make sense of things, to try to understand how everything went so wrong just as it seemed to be going so right. ButThe Ravineis also a Paul Quarrington novel, meaning that it's hilarious and ingenious, quietly working its magic until the reader is at once heartbroken and hopeful. A darkly funny story about loss and redemption,The Ravineis also about how stories are made how they can pull us out of disasters that seem too much for anyone to bear and about how, sometimes, what we need to forgive ourselves for is not what we think it is at all. From the Hardcover edition.

Author Biography

Novelist Paul Quarrington is also a musician, most recently in the band Porkbelly Futures, an award-winning screenwriter and an acclaimed non-fiction writer. His last novel, Galveston, was nominated for the Giller; Whale Music won the Governor General’s Award for Fiction in 1989. Quarrington has also won the Stephen Leacock Medal for King Leary.

From the Hardcover edition.


“Distress Hotline. Carlos speaking.”

“Carlos? Phil here.”

“Phil! How’s it hanging?”

How’s it hanging? Is that really an appropriate way to greet callers to a distress centre?”

“Phil, we’ve talked about this. You are not really in distress.”

“Says who?”

“Says all of us. You’re depressed, you’ve got this ­self-­destructive drinking thing going on, but you don’t pose any true threat to yourself or others.”

“I beg to differ. I pose a
hugethreat to others. Why, look at what I’ve already done to them! And I wasn’t even trying.”

“Phil, some of what you’re going through is just life, you know. I mean, I’ve gone through some of this stuff.
Mymarriage fell apart . . .”


“Big time. Mirella just decided she was in love with somebody else. She decided at, I don’t know, eleven o’clock in the morning, she was out, she was fucking
gone, before dinner.”

“Do you have kids?”

“A boy and a girl. Six and three. And now there is this really bitter custody battle, she keeps dragging up all this heroin stuff that is like years old.”

“Hmm. Heroin, you say?”

“I’ve been clean for twelve fucking years. She’s a ruthless bitch to even mention it. And it’s not like she was a fucking Girl Guide. I mean, there’s been some shit in her body, you can bet your ass on that.”


“And like this sexuality stuff. I mean, whose goddam business is that?”

“Whose sexuality are we discussing?”

“Mine. There has been a little confusion. A little ambivalence. But who among us is absolutely one hundred per cent hetero?”

“I see. So I take it she’s making a strong case for sole custody.”

“It breaks my fucking heart, Phil. Some days I don’t know how I’m going to go on.”

“Well, you know. Baby steps. Right? One little step after another little step, before you know it, you’ve covered vast distances.”

“Didn’t I say that to you?”

“And you were right.”

“I guess so. Look, Phil, sorry, sorry, I mean, you called me, we should talk about . . . so? What happened tonight that made you pick up the phone?”

“Well . . .”

“Aside from drinking four bottles of wine or whatever it was.”

“I just called to say, um, I won’t be calling any more. I mean, it’s been pleasant getting to know you all, but maybe it’s taken up a little bit too much of my time. And I need time, now, I need lots of it.”

“How come?”

“Because I’m working on a

“Really? A book about what? Your career in television?”

“Well, I might mention that.”

“People find television very interesting.”

“I have noticed. But I think my book is going to be a bit more general.”

“Like about how you screwed around and did all these things which you think are so bad but really aren’t? Things that when you get right down to it are a little bit boring?”

“Yeah. And of course there’ll be quite a bit about my career in television.”

“What are you going to call this book?”

“Umm . . .
The Ravine.”

The Ravine? How come?”

“Because it seems to me, Carlos, that I went down into a ravine, and never really came back out.”

1 | The Ravine

When i was eleven, and

Excerpted from The Ravine by Paul Quarrington
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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