Hollywood North: A Novel in Six Reels

by Michael Libling | :: Jump to Buy Links ::

Based on true events . . .

Jack Levin is the boy who finds things. Gus Berry is the boy who wants things. Annie Barker is the girl who believes in things. Each is an outcast in their own way. Each is obsessed with movies, TV, comic books, and unexplained phenomena. And each lives with the fear bad things are heading their way.

Welcome to the 1960s and sleepy small-town Trenton, Ontario. Where hunting, fishing, arson, and drowning are the favoured pastimes. Where dogs maim, trains derail, planes collide, and people vanish. Where secrets, lies, and selective amnesia pervade the adult agenda. Where only Gus, Jack, and Annie sense an unsettling connection to it all. And where piece by gruesome piece, this dauntless trio works to uncover the mystery at the malevolent heart of Trenton’s dark past . . . and darker future.

Trade paperback ISBN: 9781771484909
Hardcover ISBN: 9781771485234
eBook ISBN: 
9781771484916


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Praise for Michael Libling

“It’s an enthralling, nostalgically naturalistic, creepy and mordantly humorous tale that will appeal to fans of Jeff Ford’s The Shadow Year and Thomas Olde Heuvelt’s HEX. . . . In its concentration on juvenile friendships, rifts in the universe, existential angst, guilt, responsibility and mortality, Libling’s fine first novel calls to mind a recent cousin, The Book of Hidden Things by Francesco Dimitri. Along with such media vehicles as Stranger Things, Super 8 and Stand By Me, the two novels are part of a mini-trend that seeks to show us a past whose adolescent surfaces are a scrim atop writhing weirdness. Bradbury might have sketched out this mode in the darker parts of Dandelion Wine and the entirety of Something Wicked This Way Comes, but contemporary authors such as Libling are showing us refinements of sensibility and sense of wonder that the old Waukeganian never dreamed of.”
Locus Magazine

“Libling’s genre-defying debut seems to be a collision of descriptions: it’s a coming of age novel; it’s rooted in the little-known silent moviemaking history of Trenton, Ontario; it’s an homage to pop culture and film; etc. Classification aside, Hollywood North sounds like an atmospheric head trip.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Libling’s assured, quietly menacing debut, based on his World Fantasy Award-nominated novella of the same title [Hollywood North], is steeped in bittersweet childhood nostalgia and coming-of-age foibles. . . . The leisurely telling belies the hint of evil simmering just below the town’s almost aggressively mundane surface, and there are a few surprises in store. Fans of Stand by Me and the like will find much to enjoy.”
Publishers Weekly

“A beautifully deceptive mystery and fantasy noir novel. The book is filled with humor and heartbreak and great homages to classic films. While immersed in this Hollywood North, I felt like I was watching a mesmerizing movie unfold.”
—Sheila Williams, Editor, Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine

“I don’t use the word ‘brilliant’ promiscuously, never have, never will, but with Michael Libling’s wonderful first novel I use it very comfortably. For another reader, Hollywood North might be simply ‘ingenious’ or ‘charming’ or ‘outrageously engaging’, but I believe it’s more than that―a novel that film buffs will love, along with anyone living in a society with the hand of popular culture upon them as baptism or drowning (or both). Yes, it’s charming and human and light-hearted in its seriousness, and clever and rich with a film-lover’s allusions, nods and hats-off; but that’s another matter. One of the best first novels I’ve read in a decade.”
―Bruce McAllister, author of Dream Baby and The Village Sang to the Sea: A Memoir of Magic

Hollywood North, perhaps the cleverest use of the so-called unreliable narrator that I have ever seen outside of Nabokov or perhaps Evan S. Connell Jr., is also so devastating as to go far beyond the clever. Michael Libling’s first novel is the work of a prodigy with no reference to age and it explores the darkness of human complexity with bravura.”
―Barry Malzberg, author of The Bend at the End of The Road, Breakfast in the Ruins, and many others

Hollywood North is an Orca of a novel, sleek and playful, short chapters and brief sentences that hit with explosive force and open up its other side, the Killer Whale, rising from the deep, throwing itself on Antarctic ice floes, crushing penguins and sea-lions and maybe a blubberfest with a walrus. This is a work of singular beauty, a paean to popular culture, to guilty pleasures, and to the mounds of trivia behind which the truth lies.”
―Clark Blaise, author of Then And Now, Time Lord, The Meagre Tarmac and many others

“A simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking coming-of-age story set in the small town of Trenton, Ontario, against the backdrop of a little known chapter of Canada’s cinematic past. Michael Libling is to be celebrated for this gem of a book.”
―Maude Barlow, activist/author of Blue Gold, Boiling Point, and many others

“In Hollywood North, Michael Libling spins a tale of movies and memories, nightmares and nostalgia, with such a frightening secret at its core, that you’ll understand why, even though you can go home again, you might end up wishing you didn’t.”
―Ian Rogers, author of Every House Is Haunted

“As a rabid fan of Michael Libling’s short stories, I could not wait to get my grubby mitts on a copy of Hollywood North, his long-awaited first novel. I was not disappointed. Once I started, I could not put it down. . . . Michael Libling has a keen memory for the insights and obsessions of boys growing up oddballs in an era of widespread conformity. He writes of their triumphs, terrors, and heartbreaks with an enviable breeziness. But, like a cherry-red hot rod idling in the street at midnight, that slick surface hides a throbbing pulsebeat of dread you feel deep in your chest. When you hop aboard, you’re in for a thrilling ride, but there’s no guarantee you’ll come back in one piece. Or at all. . . . Hollywood North is the most heartbreaking and chilling novel I’ve read in a very long time. Gus and Jack would file this find under X, for Excellent.”
―William Shunn, author of The Accidental Terrorist, editor of The Piltdown Review

“Who cares about Trenton, Ontario, the early home to Canada’s film industry? Or about Jack, Annie, and Gloomy Gus? You will after you read page one of this unpredictable novel and get sucked into it like I did.”
―Gordon Van Gelder, publisher of the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, editor of Welcome to Dystopia: 45 Visions of What Lies Ahead

“I devoured this harrowing, disturbing, deeply moving tale of loss and redemption set against a backdrop of young love and vanished cinematic history. As with the very best movies, I walked out at the end shaken, changed, grateful.”
―Paul Witcover, author of The Watchman of Eternity

“Take Stephen King, Nick Hornby, Theodore Roszak, Woody Allen, and Stranger Things, sprinkle in the spice of a subtle Canadian sensibility, and process it all through the meat grinder that is Michael Libling’s imagination, and this is the eerie result.”
―Claude Lalumiere, author of Venera Dreams: A Weird Entertainment


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