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Review of Mount Pleasant by Don Gillmor

I first heard about Mount Pleasant by Don Gillmor on CBC Radio One. The reviewer said he couldn’t read the novel in public because he was embarrassed by the laugh-out-loud moments. I could use a good laugh, I thought to myself, and went home, downloaded and read the preview, and liked it enough to buy the ebook. The premise of Mount Pleasant is simple enough—a middle-aged man faces the realization that life is not what he’d expected.

When Harry Salter’s father dies leaving much less by way of inheritance than Harry thought, he hires a forensic accountant to find out what has happened to his father’s money. On the way he has an affair with his father’s younger second wife, learns his own wife had an affair decades earlier, comes to terms with his son’s new girlfriend, and his ailing mother. In his quest, Harry discovers his father was cheated out of his money by colleagues involved in a ponzi investment scheme. Now, in addition to the fact that he’s barely staying financially afloat, he must pay the forensic accountant for his services and convince his wife to sell the house in order to ease their financial burden. He must also come to grips with a sense of his own mortality after a colonoscopy yields a number of polyps.

Mount Pleasant—named after the cemetery in which Harry’s father is buried—is beautifully written. It is funny in a way, but the tone is more dark and ironic than laugh-out-loud funny.  The novel paints a detailed picture of Harry and his disenfranchisement from both his family and society. Though he teaches and still has contact with youth, there is the sense that the world has passed Harry by, and Harry doesn’t quite know what to make of it. While reading the novel, White Noise by Don DeLillo came to mind as both Gillmor and DeLillo write about coming to terms with a changing, postmodern society. In White Noise, fear of the future comes in the form of airborne toxins and invisible technological miasma. In Mount Pleasant, it is in the form of growing old alone (both literally and figuratively), and finding oneself unable to maintain accustomed lifestyles in a rapidly approaching retirement.

Mount Pleasant is worth the read. Gillmor’s prose is literary, his descriptions—whether on point or on tangent—superb. Gillmor’s storytelling is even paced, though anti-climactic. Mount Pleasant is a slice-of-life parable with which many aging baby boomers will identify.

About the Author

Elise Abram, English teacher and former archaeologist, has been writing for as long as she can remember, but it wasn’t until she was asked to teach Writer’s Craft in 2001 that she began to write seriously. Her first novel, THE GUARDIAN was partially published as a Twitter novel a few summers back (and may be accessed at @RKLOGYprof). Nearly ten years after its inception Abram decided it was time to stop shopping around with traditional publication houses and publish PHASE SHIFT on her own.

Download PHASE SHIFT for the price of a tweet. Visit http://www.eliseabram.com, click on the button, tweet or Facebook about my novel and download it for FREE!

Graphic from: http://www.dongillmor.ca/