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The Porcupine's Quill, Jun 17, 2021 - Fiction - 176 pages

There’s a rhythm inside things ...

It is the spring of 1987 and the blackflies are thick in the air. Twenty-year-old Rory Fleck—runner, bassist, ex-boyfriend, baby of the family—joins a tree-planting brigade in Northern Ontario, camping out in a pup tent and whiling away the evenings writing letters to his dead brother.

Haunted by dreams and plagued by gruesome visions from the past, Rory goes in search of the rhythm—in planting and in life—that leads to the mindless trance tree planters call ‘Freak Zero’. He takes comfort in a meaningful mix-tape titled VOYAGER 1 (ten songs, one for each full year his older brother, Mike, has been gone) and he develops a camaraderie with his fellows in the camp: timid, meticulous planter Eddie; gruff, Shakespeare-spouting camp cook Jerry; and kind, vibrant, tempting Betina. But there are others whose motives are less than friendly. Crew boss Ty’s rampant jealousy threatens Rory and Betina’s budding relationship, and the mysterious Mr W’s calm detachment conceals a startling connection to Rory’s past. When his time as a tree planter comes to an abrupt and painful end, Rory must choose whether to keep running, or find out what it means to stop and face the music.

Midland is a gripping story of trauma, family ghosts and the healing forces of friendship and music.


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About the author (2021)

After experiencing one season as a tree planter in Northern Ontario, Ross Breithaupt was a middle school teacher in suburban Toronto for twenty-two years. He has since spent his time writing his debut novel, Midland, as well as a series of essays for the Globe and Mail. He lives in Toronto.

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