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Review: Late Nights on Air by Elizabeth Hay

Late Nights on Air by Elizabeth Hay

Took me forever to read this book. I did not enjoy the first half at all and was going to give up when a coworker told me the second half is a lot different and I might still enjoy it, so I stuck with it. That same coworker also said she didn’t like this book as much as the author’s other novels.

The first part of the story centers around a radio station and its staff, set in Yellowknife. I thought it sounded cool, but it just seemed like the story was really going nowhere. I couldn’t connect with any of the characters. After the half way point, once we get to know all the characters, we’re taken away from the town and the radio station as four of them decide to take a canoe trip in the steps of John Hornby. This part I enjoyed more even though I can’t say I normally like adventure fiction of this sort. Still, the description of the land and the experience was beautiful and engaging so much so that this was the first time in months that I stayed up way too late reading.

The book’s ending was a bit off. Interestingly, the ending also took place in the ‘civilized’ world after they finished their trip. At this point Eleanor had been one of my preferred characters but the book seemed to focus more on Gwen, and Harry.

I’ve started to figure out a way to tell myself whether or not I like a book. One is to ask if I would borrow/buy another book by the same author. In this case – no, I won’t read another Hay novel unless someone close to me insists that I absolutely must. The other question I ask myself: if this was a movie would I go see it? (Lets ignore that movie adaptations are rarely as good as the book and the reader’s imagination). For this book, I’d say I’d wait for video – as in sure, it’s ok, but I wouldn’t put it on a must read list.

So that, finally, was book #5 for my Canadian read challenge. I have three more months to get through 8 more books. Eek! That’s a lot! For that reason, I’m probably going to change my focus – I’m no longer going to try to read a book from/about each province and territory. I think I have one more Canadian book on my shelves that I haven’t read yet. Then I think, I’ll read some children’s books. I really haven’t read a lot of kid lit in a while. Maybe it’s time I finally read some Lucy Maud Montgomery?


About Jen

An instructor, a reader, a dog-owner, and advocate; that's how I define myself and these aspects directly impact my interests and conversations.


2 thoughts on “Review: Late Nights on Air by Elizabeth Hay

  1. This is my next up book. I’m moving to Yellowknife this summer, so it’s of special interest to me. Though, I realize Hay hasn’t lived there for a very long time and so I’m sure the city has changed dramatically since then.

    I like how you decide whether or not you like a book (I’m assuming this is sometimes very obvious). I’ve sworn off Ondaatje and Munro books based on your system. As for the movie adaptations, I’d be willing to see movies made of Canadian books regardless if I liked them or not– I’m a sucker for Canadian movies.

    Posted by John Mutford | 8 Apr 2008, 5:04 PM
  2. I love Canadian movies too – but some I’d rather just rent. That method of rating is a little more open than the ‘would you read that author’ one since, when it comes to movies – you could see it in the theatre, rent it at home, buy it, or ignore it altogether. Transferring the ‘feeling’ associated with those options to books helps me figure out what I really like.

    Hope you have a quick and uneventful move!

    Posted by Jen | 9 Apr 2008, 1:14 AM

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