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Late Nights on Air Hardcover – International Edition, September 18, 2007

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 376 pages
  • Publisher: McClelland & Stewart; 1St Edition edition (September 18, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0771038119
  • ISBN-13: 978-0771038112
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,606,597 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After being fired from his latest television job, a disgraced Harry Boyd returns to his radio roots in the northern Canadian town of Yellowknife as the manager of a station no one listens to, and finds himself at the center of the station's unlikely social scene. New anchor Dido Paris, both renowned and mocked for her Dutch accent, fled an affair with her husband's father, only to be torn between Harry and another man. Wild child Gwen came to learn radio production, but under Harry's tutelage finds herself the guardian of the late-night shift. And lonely Eleanor wonders if it's time to move south just as she meets an unlikely suitor. While the station members wait for Yellowknife to get its first television station and the crew embarks on a life-changing canoe expedition, the city is divided over a proposal to build a pipeline that would cut across Native lands, bringing modernization and a flood of workers, equipment and money into sacred territory. Hay's crystalline prose, keen details and sharp dialogue sculpt the isolated, hardy residents of Yellowknife, who provide a convincing backdrop as the main cast tromps through the existential woods. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.


#1 National Bestseller

“Elizabeth Hay has created her own niche in Canadian fiction by fastening her intelligence on the real stuff — the bumps and glories in love, kinship, friendship.”
Toronto Star

“Hay exposes the beauty simmering in the heart of harsh settings with an evocative grace that brings to mind Annie Proulx.”
Washington Post

"Dazzling....A flawlessly crafted and timeless story, masterfully told.” — Jury citation, the Scotiabank Giller Prize

“Exquisite….Hay creates enormous spaces with few words, and makes the reader party to the journey, listening, marvelling….” — Globe and Mail

“This is Hay’s best novel yet.” — Marni Jackson, The Walrus

“Invites comparison with work by Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood. Outside Canada, one thinks of A.S. Byatt or Annie Proulx.” — Times Literary Supplement

“Written by a master storyteller.” — Winnipeg Free Press

“Psychologically astute, richly rendered and deftly paced. It’s a pleasure from start to finish.” — Toronto Star

Customer Reviews

This cast of well-drawn, unforgettable characters, as well as some lively secondary characters, is the driving force of the novel.
"switterbug" Betsey Van Horn
All of her characters - a diverse group of wounded lost souls who work together in a small Yellowknife radio station in the mid-1970s - are aching.
Jill I. Shtulman
I love the way Ms. Hay weaves a story with wonderful characters and fabulous insights into human frailties and unexpected human foibles.
S. Schwartz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Cipriano on May 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Let's face it. Few things in [Canadian] life possess the sheer, unmitigated potential of being more innately boring than CBC Radio, anywhere.
So. How about tuning in to CBC Radio..... in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories! In the year 1975! Exactly. The mere thought of it is enough to send a muskox into premature hibernation.
But enter the literary genius of Elizabeth Hay, for the above-mentioned is the exact setting of Late Nights On Air, a novel that is never for a moment, boring.

She peoples her book with fascinating, somewhat eccentric yet believable, transients.
Harry Boyd is a castaway from the Toronto television scene, now working the late shift at CBC Yellowknife and obscurely living out his banishment in the far north. One night he falls in love with the "low-pitched sexiness" and "elusive accent" of a new voice on the airwaves.
The voice belongs to Dido Paris, a novice, literally "hired off the street."
Harry begins immediate flrtations with her, and is immediately rebuffed.
Dido comes from who knows where and is as mythical as both her names. An ethereal, commanding presence throughout the book, even though in the last half of it, she is largely absent, having run off with the technician, Eddy Fitzgerald.
She seems to be the benchmark against which other female characters in the book assess themselves, one being Gwen Symons, another novice broadcaster.
Gwen does not have the natural skills that Dido enjoys. In fact, Gwen needs a lot of patience and understanding, and the new interim manager [Harry Boyd] is able to nurture and encourage her toward a realization of her own skill and proficiency.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By J. Grattan VINE VOICE on April 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author hooks the reader immediately as forty-two year old Harry Boyd, an announcer at a small Yellowknife radio station and on the rebound from a career that has spiraled downward, hears while at home the exotic, sensual voice of Dido Paris, a new-hire who he has not yet met. Unfortunately for the book, Paris remains an alluring though mysterious, peripheral presence in the book. Other than Harry, three others associated with the radio station are the key characters: Eleanor, the wise receptionist; Gwen, the novice, though determined, announcer; and Ralph, book critic and photographer. Frankly, the weather is more prominent in the book than radio station happenings: the bone-chilling cold, the extremely shorts days and long nights of the winter; the confinement; the perils of venturing forth, etc.

The author taps into the controversy of the proposed Mackenzie River Valley natural gas line that pitted natives and old-timers like Harry versus business types, though mostly as a background device for the 1970s. The history of the Artic north is replete with legends of rugged survivalists and those who succumbed to the elements. The tragic death of one such individual John Hornby in the 1920s intrigued Harry sufficiently that he along with Ralph, Eleanor, and Gwen undertake an arduous journey by foot and canoe to visit the site of his death with, once again, the harsh, unpredictable weather bringing about a distressing outcome. However, not only on the journey, but also around town, the details of the landscape remain murky.

The book is choppy: for the most part a sequence of disconnected scenarios.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Glenn Vanstrum on July 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Evocative setting and complex, fascinating characters topped by a thriller of a canoe trip through Canada's Barren Ground wilderness, Elizabeth Hay's Late Nights on Air was so good I had to read it twice. The second time through, I could appreciate the craft the author wields as she deftly shifts points of view, blends in flashbacks, and paints word-pictures of that land of the northern lights, Yellowknife, Northern Territories. Set in a provincial small-town radio station, the book does not neglect the Dene natives and their battle to protect a frozen but beautiful environs from a natural gas pipeline. Hay weaves all these elements into a seamless narrative. A definite buy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Friederike Knabe VINE VOICE on June 15, 2010
Format: Paperback
Elizabeth Hay's novel starts in 1975 and uses the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry in 1975-1977 - an inquiry into the diverse perspectives of people living in the Canadian North and those coming there for work or business purposes - as a kind of backdrop to her award-winning novel. Her focus, however, is a group of radio journalists, some 'old hand', some new arrivals, some local, others from the South, all working with the Northern Service of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). Hay's central characters and a few hangers-on are all highly individualistic - some deeply attracted to the open spaces of the North, others with a more urban mentality, finding climate and changing seasons an ongoing challenge. In all, we are exposed to an intriguing set of people.

Inter-personal relationships are not simple in a close-knit work environment of a small radio station; solidarities and allegiances are shifting as quickly as animosities and jealousies. Among the changing perspectives, three individuals have stronger voices than others. Harry, the troubled acting station manager, an experienced radio personality, is in a less than comfortable position and his days may be numbered. Gwen, the newest arrival, enthusiastic and dedicated to learning that might, she hopes, balance off her lack of experience. Eleanor, the administrator, represents the calm and responsible voice of reason. One of the groups challenges is Dido, a young woman from the Netherlands with a "natural" radio voice and a mysterious and seductive personality. While the characters are all interesting, I didn't feel strongly engaged with any of them for a long time; they remained vague and lacked a level of depth. Like the meandering Mackenzie river, they, very slowly, gain in strength and focus.
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