In 1984, Jolene Iolas, a student in upstate New York, encounters Martin Sloane's art while visiting a Toronto gallery. Flush with the confidence of youth, she strikes up a correspondence with the older artist, and eventually the two become lovers. Introduced to a constancy of love she has never known, Jolene relaxes into the rituals of being someone's other half. She learns Martin's story and cherishes it as her own. He becomes a fixture in her life, a star in her sky.
And then, he vanishes. There is no hint of his fate, no chain of cause to be followed. Over a long fall, the shock slowly hardening into fact, Jolene sheds her life, losing everything, including her oldest friend, Molly, to inexpressible grief.
Ten years pass, Jolene slowly learns to stop trying to make sense of it all. But before she can fully return to life, the opportunity to confront a ghost arises. Word has come from Molly, of all people, that someone named Sloane has been exhibiting artworks identical to Martin's in Irish galleries. Jolene travels to Dublin, where she reluctantly reconnects with Molly and together, they find themselves lost in a jumble of pasts as they try to piece together what happened to Martin Sloane.
An exquisitely crafted novel, Martin Sloane is about the mysteries of love and art, the weight of history, and what it means to bear memory for the missing and the dead.
"Martin Sloane is a deeply moving first novel that reveals human truths with grace and humour. Michael Redhill's portrait of the artist and the magnetic influence on those around him is profound and full of affection. It is a book of constant surprises." —Michael Ondaatje
“A complex and…satisfying novel. Redhill is a very good writer, with a wide-ranging mind and an elegant turn of phrase. He has a keen eye for physical and emotional detail, and he’s housed his mystery in an engaging narrative structure…This is an engaging read, and a polished first time out for this poet turned novelist.” —Bill Richardson, Quill & Quire
“Redhill’s language is masterful; imagery and metaphor rise organically out of each event and picture…The pacing of his writing is marvellous, and conscious of the heaviness of history…Mild and beautiful on the surface, Martin Sloane has explosives buried quietly in its emotional landscape…Martin Sloane is a subtle and intimate novel that warns us how grey and empty life becomes when we settle for bad copies, for unsatisfying imitations of real things.” —Globe and Mail
“Michael Redhill has laboured on a novel…since 1991 — some 12 complete drafts. Virtue is rewarded with the appearance of Redhill’s Martin Sloane.” —Toronto Star
“I read a superb novel yesterday, the kind that makes you lousy company for hours afterwards — because you want to mull over its details rather than be social, because you prefer its world to the one that, at dinner, you suddenly find yourself contending with. The novel is Martin Sloane…[I]f you care about voice, if you want to read a good novel more than about its author, then you’ll want to read this book…The work that resulted from all [Redhill’s] toil fills me with respect. This is an adult book — one that shows the maturity of proper incubation. It is accomplished, considered, polished — a novel of depth and many aspects. Martin Sloane makes you realize just how thin and fleeting most of what passes for good fiction is. Bravo, then, to Michael Redhill, the man who waited — and who set his own high standards.” —Noah Richler, National Post
“For a first novel…Martin Sloane is remarkably assured…Redhill’s years of effort are apparent in more than his seamless prose. That craftsmanship, together with his understanding of his basoc human nature, allowed him to pull off a character like Jolene…What the book is about is a truth human beings are loath to admit, that in the end we are alone” —Brian Bethune, Maclean’s
“This is the talent of the artist, to make us see what exists around the obvious. Escher did it with ink; Michael Redhill, Toronto writer, does too, in his way…[a] careful, accomplished novel.” —Georgia Straight
“The prose is balanced and graceful. In a book about the creation and appreciation of simple, idiosyncratic and fragile art, the reader expects no less…A love for words and an editorial eye make for a story with all the riddles and unspoken intensity of a carefully designed poem. Or a wooden box with a doll inside…Martin Sloane is delicate and artful. Handle with care.” —Todd Babiak, Edmonton Journal
About the Author:
Michael Redhill is the author of four poetry collections, most recently Asphodel (1997) and Light-crossing (2001). As a playwright, his most recent works are Doubt and Building Jerusalem, winner of the 2000 Dora Award for Outstanding New Play. He is one of the editors of Brick, a literary magazine. Redhill lives and works in Toronto.