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The Empress of Idaho
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The Empress of Idaho
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Bestselling and award-winning author Todd Babiak returns with an immersive and affecting story about a teenager's fascination with an enigmatic new woman in town whose past is catching up with...
Bestselling and award-winning author Todd Babiak returns with an immersive and affecting story about a teenager's fascination with an enigmatic new woman in town whose past is catching up with...
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Description-

  • Bestselling and award-winning author Todd Babiak returns with an immersive and affecting story about a teenager's fascination with an enigmatic new woman in town whose past is catching up with her.
    Monument, Colorado, July 1989. Fourteen-year-old Adam Lisinski is mesmerized the moment Beatrice Cyr steps into his life. Adam has a lot going for him: he's hoping to be a starter on his high school football team, he has a fiercely protective mom, a girlfriend, and a part-time job at Eugene's Gas Stop, where he works with his best friend. But he neglects everything that matters to him after Beatrice, his neighbour's enigmatic new wife, comes to town. Soon he finds himself alone with her—in the change room at Modern You, a clothing store on Second Street; in the back row of the theatre at Chapel Hill Cinema; in the front seat of her truck. He's confused about who she is, what she wants, and where she comes from. Adam is desperate, caught between wanting to spend time with Beatrice—whose past is catching up with her—and lying to everyone he cares about. The guilt overwhelms him. And when Beatrice convinces Adam's mom to quit her job and partner in a risky real estate venture, he has to do something before everything spins further out of control. The plan he comes up with tests his courage and leads him to an unshakable truth about loyalty and love.
    By turns riveting and tender-hearted, The Empress of Idaho is a story about the vulnerability and confusion of adolescence at the moment when it slams against adulthood. It's an unforgettable portrait of a boy's difficult coming of age.

Excerpts-

  • From the book When she looked at me I saw what I had not seen. Our house was little more than a trailer. The blue vinyl siding was faded by the sun and carried years of dust. The front lawn was really a collection of weeds, but still it needed cutting.There was a filthy red chair with broken springs on our front porch. Weeks ago my mother had asked me to carry it to the corner so the garbage men could pick it up.
    Now that the woman was looking at me I understood what Marv had said, that a man does not concern himself with gardening. I was too nervous and too ashamed to answer about the sweet williams. It did not matter because she had already turned and walked up his driveway. From a distance she seemed to float over the gravel. Marv raised his eyebrows and pointed in her direction with both his thumbs, took a step closer and whispered at me. He told me her name, Beatrice—like in poetry, he said. What poetry? It would come to him. Then: "Get this. We just got married."
    "You married her?"
    "I goddamn married that woman."
    "Did you know her from somewhere before?"
    "We met at O'Grady's three nights ago." He reached into the back pocket of his jeans and pulled out his thick, oily leather wallet. "How you set up for cash? I'll give you a five if you'll help me unload her things."
    I hopped into the bed of the old truck and lifted the only heavy piece of furniture, a solid wood coffee table with a sticker on the leg that said "$9." Marv grabbed a garbage bag full of clothes.
    "How's your mom?"
    "She's good."
    There was no sidewalk on Jefferson Street. We stood on the meeting place of weed and gravel. Marv looked at the front of our house. There was a constellation of wet spots where his breasts had pressed against his shirt. Now that Beatrice was not watching he let himself go crooked.
    "I'll cut the lawn." The hard edges of the coffee table dug into my palms. "And get rid of that chair."
    "If you get a chance. A lady only gets one first impression."
    Inside, his house smelled of cigarette smoke and chemical peaches. An aerosol can of room deodorant, with an old English orchard on the front, had fallen over on the kitchen counter. The morning sun shone through Marv's beige curtainsand turned his living room the colour of weak tea. It was tidier than usual.
    "Where would you like the table, ma'am?"
    She wore big gold rings and bracelets. She was thin like a boy and tanned. The garbage bag of clothes leaked. Marv struggled to contain it. Three panties and a sock fell on the green shag carpet and Marv laughed and cussed as he kneeled to pick them up. Then the bag tipped and a fur coat fell out.
    I tried to right the bag. It was hot and melty. Beatrice bent and rushed me like a dainty ram. "Jesus Christ, child. That floor isn't clean. Pick up that coat."
    "Yes, ma'am."
    "Now Beatrice, a boy like this never seen one of those before."
    She turned to Marv and he took a step back. Then she brought the coat to her nose and inhaled deeply, closed her eyes. By the time she looked at me again she was smiling. "You are?"
    "Adam, ma'am, from next door."
    "Charmed. Beatrice Cyr. Walker-Cyr, I suppose, right, Marv?"
    "Damn right."
    "This is a Valentino, Adam. Sable, it's called." She enunciated as though I were either six years old or from Honduras. "You can touch it to your face."
    "No, that's okay, ma'am."
    "Touch it to your face."
    I touched it to my face.
    "Soft, isn't it? Softer than a dream. This coat was ten thousand dollars once. Can you imagine?"
    I tried to imagine how a woman with a ten-thousand-dollar coat had a nine-dollar coffee table. When would she wear something like this on...

About the Author-

  • TODD BABIAK's most recent novels are Son of France and Come Barbarians, which was a Globe and Mail book of the year and a number one bestseller. His earlier work includes The Garneau Block, which was a national bestseller, a longlisted title for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and the winner of the City of Edmonton Book Prize; The Book of Stanley; and Toby: A Man, which was shortlisted for the Stephen Leacock Medal and won the Alberta Book Award for Best Novel. Todd Babiak is the co-founder of Story Engine, a consulting company based in Edmonton and Vancouver.

Reviews-

  • Toronto Star "Babiak skillfully develops his characters and their connections in a manner which reveals their individual depths and documents the effect Beatrice has upon them. . . . [Adam's] victimization--from grooming through to the aftermath--is handled realistically and heartbreakingly. . . . A powerful, unsettling novel."
  • Quill & Quire "Babiak has created a wholly believable boy on the verge of manhood . . . The Empress of Idaho is a brave book. It challenges many of our assumptions, not least in the areas of masculinity and victimhood. . . . a challenging and compulsively readable novel."

Title Information+

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    McClelland & Stewart
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  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.
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