Splitsville

by Howard Akler

***Publication date 25 September 2018***

 

Grab your dictionary! Splitsville is filled with words that are rather obscure, but simply add to the dimension of this novel.  Splitsville was nothing like what I expected, odd at times and disjointed in others. Still this is a very curious story of an older man and a middle aged woman coming together for a brief time in the early 70s.

Sachs is a bookstore owner, which is the reason I was drawn to this book. Much of the story takes place around and in the bookstore proper. He meets Lily at her father’s funeral. Lily’s father was a friend of Sachs. The affair is the result of this meeting and the subsequent one, as Lily disposes of her father’s book collection.  The location of this bookstore is in Toronto, a town in flux during this time period. A central character in the book is the growth of Toronto and how to manage it. 

Lily is an activist. Lily doesn’t want to see the bookstore locale changed for growth. The local mafioso and government do. This is how the growth of Toronto becomes a character in the story. Lily is also a schoolteacher. She teaches grade 11 civics at the local high school, but is being censored by her principal for teaching about local civic events. 

Peppered through this short novel are other colorful characters such as Lily’s best friend Phoebe. The mysterious Es, apparently Sachs’ niece, is in some part telling the story. Her accounting is interspersed with those of Sachs and Lily. Min & Larry are Sachs’ sister and brother in law, who are co-owners of the bookstore. Joe Sharpe is the local slumlord who wants to force people out of both their homes and businesses to appease a developer as well as line his pockets. Each one of these characters gives the story a well-roundedness and depth that would be missing if it was just about Sachs and Lily.

I liked this book because of the depth of the story. I really enjoyed reading about what life was like at that time, which is when I was just a child. This book is short but a slow read. There is a profundity to it. As I said at the beginning, make sure you have your dictionary nearby, because there are words spoken and written that aren’t used everyday. 

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