Connie's Reviews > Late Nights on Air

Late Nights on Air by Elizabeth Hay
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Aug 17, 14

bookshelves: canada, contemporary-fiction, summer-2014
Read from August 11 to 17, 2014

Elizabeth Hay worked as a radio broadcaster in Yellowknife forty years ago, and she revisits that isolated area in Late Nights on Air. Set in 1975, it was a time when radio was being replaced by television. The environment and the northern way of life was also being threatened by a proposal to cross the frozen Canadian tundra with a gas pipeline.

The radio station employees are imperfect people who are searching for what they want in life. Some have traveled from more southern areas, hoping to find it in Yellowknife. They have been disappointed in their careers and by love in the past, and are looking for a new start.

Written in beautiful literary prose, the story builds slowly for the first half as Hay looks into the souls of the complicated characters at the radio station. My favorite part of the book is the later part, involving four of the characters following the route of John Hornby and two companions, explorers who perished in the Barrens in the sub-Arctic in 1927. The descriptions of Yellowknife and the Barrens are exquisite, with the location also becoming an important character. This is a book for people who are willing to take the time to savor Elizabeth Hay's writing because it is a character-driven story in an unfamiliar world.

3 1/2 stars, rounded up to 4.
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Reading Progress

08/11 marked as: currently-reading
08/17 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-12 of 12) (12 new)

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message 1: by Alejandro (new)

Alejandro Good review, Connie :)


Connie Alejandro wrote: "Good review, Connie :)"

Thanks, Alejandro. I'm appreciating this warm August day after reading about the frozen sub-Arctic :)


message 3: by Lynda (new) - added it

Lynda Oooo...this sounds right up my alley. I worked in Radio for a number of years and can equate with "The radio station employees are imperfect people who are searching for what they want in life." Great review Connie.


message 4: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue The description of the prose attracts me. Often that's the honey that keeps me with a book.


message 5: by Diane (new) - added it

Diane Barnes This sounds good. Like Sue, beautiful prose compensates for subjects that I'm ambivalent about. I've actually looked at this a couple of times, but put it back on the shelf. You've convinced me to read it.


message 6: by Carol (new)

Carol Nice review, Connie. I haven't read this author yet but I have A Student of Weather on my nightstand.


Connie Lynda wrote: "Oooo...this sounds right up my alley. I worked in Radio for a number of years and can equate with "The radio station employees are imperfect people who are searching for what they want in life." ..."

Lynda, were you in front of the microphone or doing other jobs at the radio station? I would imagine you would meet lots of interesting people in a radio career.


Connie Sue wrote: "The description of the prose attracts me. Often that's the honey that keeps me with a book."

The author won a Scotiabank Giller Prize for this book. The prose is beautiful, but the first half of the book moves slowly so the reader has to be patient.


Connie Carol wrote: "Nice review, Connie. I haven't read this author yet but I have A Student of Weather on my nightstand."

Thanks for commenting, Carol. I read A Student of Weather too. It also has a great sense of place, and complex characters.


Connie Diane wrote: "This sounds good. Like Sue, beautiful prose compensates for subjects that I'm ambivalent about. I've actually looked at this a couple of times, but put it back on the shelf. You've convinced me ..."

Diane, I enjoy reading about places that I'll never have the chance to visit. The author got mixed reviews on this book from Goodreads readers because her prose was wonderful, but the story moved slowly in the first half. The characters and the setting will stay with me for a while, and I'm glad I read it.


message 11: by Lynda (new) - added it

Lynda Connie wrote: "Lynda wrote: "Oooo...this sounds right up my alley. I worked in Radio for a number of years and can equate with "The radio station employees are imperfect people who are searching for what they wa..."

I was an announcer - 10am to 2pm slot. It was a fun life; miss it terribly. Left to be a bloody accountant! haha


Connie Lynda wrote: "Connie wrote: "Lynda wrote: "Oooo...this sounds right up my alley. I worked in Radio for a number of years and can equate with "The radio station employees are imperfect people who are searching f..."

You're a woman of many talents, Lynda! Your wonderful book reviews give you a chance to use your writing ability and creativity.


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