cover image The Lost Highway

The Lost Highway

David Adams Richards, Author MacAdam/Cage Publishing $25 (394p) ISBN 978-1-59692-284-6

Prize-winning Canadian author Richards (The Friends of Meager Fortune) spins a sad, thoughtful tale around Alex Chapman, a community-college ethics teacher living in a small Canadian town of English- and French-speaking whites and Micmac Indians. Alex's lifelong feud with his tyrannical great-uncle James drives him to desperation. At the opening of the novel, James has lost his paving business. He asks Alex to take his truck in to have the oil changed; Alex refuses. James vows that Alex won't inherit, and Alex is furious, though in fact it is he who contrived to make his uncle lose his biggest contract. When the mechanic, a simple man named Burton, gives James a lottery ticket worth thirteen million dollars, Alex decides to steal it. He blames his uncle for an old humiliation that caused him to refuse to admit his feelings for Minnie, the soft-spoken girl who loved him. The novel draws on a number of different perspectives including Burton, Minnie's daughter, Amy, and Leo Bourque, the schoolmate who bullied Alex when he was a child. Richards goes to unnecessary lengths to explain his characters' motivations, and this slows the narrative pace considerably. Still, the novel presents complicated ethical dilemmas and offers sharp insights into complex emotional motives.