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About the Book

 

Lord’s Day Sweater follows two generations of brothers in a mixed English/French family at the turn of the 20th century. The Doyles are atypical of the two Canadian solitudes and the perceived roles of the time. The characters are roguish, free-thinking, outspoken and jovial as they experience monumental world and local events as active witnesses, and not mere spectators.

 

The era holds many parallels to our own time, as citizens coped with great advances in technology, commerce, culture and industry, all the while focusing on their main struggle; keeping their families fed and joyful. The book takes a modern and ironic look at this time in history and the lives of the people who lived it.

 

The story takes place in Arnprior, Ottawa, Montreal and war-torn Flanders. The father and main protagonist, Buddy Doyle, is a blue-talking, card-cheating, beer-brewing, good-loving atheist. His wife, Marie, is a French Catholic suffragist, modern woman, great foil to her husband, bane of the Priest, and anchor for the clan. Buddy’s brother Glenn is the tragic figure. Orphaned at 16 years, he’s left in the care of his older brother and family.

 

The story begins in 1900, days after the birth of Buddy’s second son. After seven years of life on the farm, we move to the city of Ottawa and watch the growth of our capital through the mischievous antics of Buddy’s growing sons, George and Samuel. Snowball fights and hockey games, canoe trips, girl trouble and other boyish hijinks figure prominently in these chapters.

 

By 1914 the boys are young men, too young to fight, but raging with enthusiasm. Uncle Glenn is the first to heed the call to duty while the older son, George, attends McGill University through the winter of 1914. We follow the early actions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force through Glenn’s eyes, including the second battle of Ypres. George becomes a junior officer in late 1915 after a young love gone bad, and arrives in France in May 1916.

 

The book explores the impact of war on the battlefield and on the home front. We watch Marie’s crisis of faith caused by the strain of war and her own questioning nature. By 1917, Uncle Glenn is wounded in battle and returns home to a different world, a bitter, alcoholic amputee. Buddy dies suddenly in 1918, a victim of the Spanish Flu Epidemic. Glenn dies shortly thereafter, burning the farmhouse down around him. Marie gives birth at 39 to the daughter she’s always yearned for. The book ends with her and her children trying to piece their shattered lives back together.

 

About the Author

 

I’m Dan LaRocque, an author and songwriter presently living in Parksville on Vancouver Island with my wife and two sons, aged 9 and 6.

 

I was involved in the Vancouver independent music scene through the 90’s, as a guitarist with rock band Sick Sick Yeah, as a regular music columnist with Exclaim magazine and as a radio host and music director with CFRO Co-Op radio, enjoying an average of three hours on air every week.

 

I was born and raised in Ottawa, with stops in Vancouver and Northern Saskatchewan

 

As a songwriter, I’m best known for my work with Sick Sick Yeah, as well as solo projects Larry and Parksville Rancher. My song Wrestle With Me Xena was featured in a segment with Lucy Lawless on the popular British TV show V Graham Norton. My tribute to Coronation Street’s greatest anti-hero, The Ballad of Les Battersby received much radio play overseas, and is frequently sung at Manchester soccer matches. Canadian historical ballads and anthems include The Mad Trapper from Rat River, The Battle Hymn of the Dominion and Cascadia, Cascadia. My experience as a songwriter gives my work a lyrical style, concise and metric.

 

The birth of my first son forced me to limit my involvement in the creative arts, but I managed to contribute a number of songs and essays for CBC Radio during the demanding years of early childhood. I also produced and released the anti-Gordon Campbell compilation CD ‘Citizens Rule’ in time for the last provincial election in 2005. I’ve published my bank-b-gone.com website since 1998, and most of my songs, videos and essays are available there.

 

I have a broad and odious base of experience from which to draw as an author, having lived as a farmer, a mover, a musician, a hitchhiker, a father, a beermaker, hockey player, early web denizen, lover, spurned and otherwise, gardener, delinquent.

 

My literary heroes include Farley Mowat, Mordecai Richler, Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams and Tom Robbins. Musical influences Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan. Modern favorites, Death Cab for Cutie, Weakerthans, Stars, Bloc Party.

 

I’m currently working on my next project, entitled Screw The Future, I’ve Got Mine – The Generation That Ate The World. It’s a narrative fiction about the baby boom generation, once eager to change the world, but instead, through complicity and complacency, power and greed, has led us to the brink of extinction. It has a similar style to Lord’s Day Sweater in the way it follows a number of characters through history and popular culture. Exploring this era in time will prove enjoyable and I expect the theme to be controversial and mildly offensive to a vast number of the Canadian public.

 

 

Dan LaRocque