cover image The Crash Palace

The Crash Palace

Andrew Wedderburn. Coach House, $17.95 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-55245-405-3

Audrey Lane, the headstrong young heroine of Wedderburn’s high-powered follow-up to The Milk Chicken Bomb is obsessed with everything about the open road. At 20, Audrey gets her dream job driving a truck around the oil fields not far from Calgary, Alberta. Shortly after, she impulsively runs away from the job and the camp where she’s been staying, and ends up in a gritty Edmonton bar. She talks her way into a job as the driver for a bar band called the Lever Men, with none of them sober enough to drive to their next gig. Along the way, Audrey furthers her cross-country education: lonesome highways, dive bars with names like the Crash Palace (and the unique characters who frequent them), and camaraderie with the four Lever Men, to whom she is both den mother and little sister. Wedderburn then jumps nearly a decade to find Audrey a single mother with a young daughter. After reading about the death of Crash Palace owner Alex Main in a Calgary paper, Audrey reels back into memories of the past, and she feels compelled to attend his funeral. In rich and energetic prose, Wedderburn makes Audrey a character to root for, and her reminiscences are moving and illuminating. Wedderburn’s engaging tale will hot-wire readers’ brains, making Audrey’s wanderlust palpable and contagious. (June)