I am pleased that Alex in ’63 is available for purchase at Shelf Life Books in Calgary, a long-time supporter of local authors.
Alex in ’63 is my first novel, and I look forward to sharing it with readers who have “ever been thirteen”. It is very much a Calgary-based story, so some readers will recognize familiar landscapes and events.
If you are interested in ordering a copy, please send an email or phone me. Free delivery in Calgary.
About Alex in ’63:
If you’ve ever been thirteen…
Alex Wheeler reminds us what it’s like to be a teenager on a collision course with self-doubt, intimidation, love, and mystery. At the start of grade 9—in his hometown Calgary, Alberta—Alex is trying to figure out how to deal with a football-star brother, a strict school principal, and a vindictive high school girl. There’s another girl, too, recently arrived from England, who emboldens him by sharing glimpses of a pop culture revolution evolving back home. Meanwhile, local incidents and international events impact Alex and his family in deeply personal ways.
Alex in ‘63 is a bumpy-road tribute to home and school and neighbourhood.
Feeling hard-done-by after my chat with Loretta, I turned on the TV and sprawled on the couch. Instead of the usual afternoon movie, there was a special broadcast from Washington D.C. A huge crowd was standing in front of a statue of Abraham Lincoln.
I didn’t usually take notice of politics or news except when the Current Events magazines arrived at school, and our social studies teacher made us read articles and answer questions. Although, I have to say, last year the Cuban Missile Crisis grabbed everybody’s attention. We watched President Kennedy on TV when he told the Russians they had to dismantle their missile bases or else. No one was sure what was going to happen, except my schoolmate Kenny Street, who told us we didn’t need to do homework anymore. We were all gonna be dead in a few days.
The event I was watching now had to do with black people demonstrating for jobs and equal rights in America—their own country. I knew slavery ended a hundred years earlier, but what I couldn’t understand was why it was taking so long for them to be treated like regular people.
I can feel the sun grow stronger
I can see the evening’s longer
My world is warming day by day
Growth and greenery on their way
There are countless sun ray reasons
To celebrate this change of seasons
from Puffs of Breath
The rink lay open to the falling snow;
the temperature felt like twenty below.
We panted and puffed and squinted our eyes
determined to break a 1-1 tie.
Late in the third, my feet were numb,
a price to pay for hockey fun.
I could hardly feel the stick in my hands;
I could barely see the ghostly fans.
The puck jumped loose from the tangled play
and I skated clear on a breakaway.
Without any time to worry or think,
I headed south on the whitening rink.
Straight ahead, the goalie stood;
he didn’t move like I thought he would.
His net seemed big as an ogre’s cave
or a tombstone built for a giant’s grave.
I cradled the puck to my forehand side,
pulled it back and let it fly.
I watched it sail to the frosty twine
and knew at once the prize was mine.
My very first goal in my very first game,
a fleeting moment of on-ice fame.
It sparked a passion that took firm hold
for a life-long journey down hockey road.
from After the Flood: Hockey Poems
“Hey, Mr. Oliver.”
peered from light into half light.
Vague recognition set in.
Then silence; neither of us wanting to explain.
“Nice flood,” I finally said.
“Thanks. It set up quick tonight.”
He stood still, stickhandled in place.
Soft hands, deft touch.
“Goodnight Mr. Oliver.”
“See ya, kid.”
Not young men with families,
not young ladies with college degrees,
just boots on the ground.
Not souls, not intellects, not creative hands,
not doctors, not scientists, not keepers of the land.
What’s that sound, Captain?
Boots on the ground, my son.
How many are there, Captain?
Ten thousand outward bound.
What becomes of them, Captain?
Some are lost and never found.
Who are they really, Captain?
Boots on the ground.
One fine morning in July
(I’m sorry I cannot specify)
Puffs of clouds will saunter by
Through a wide, untroubled sky
Try to savour it while you may
This could be the very best day
To paint the barn or cut the hay
or find a stream and drift away
from Puffs of Breath
when Neil walked on the moon
he had found
a stainless steel dinner spoon?
Would that have been enough
to make mankind swoon?
And would we,
in our intellect, make room
for a singular, sandy lunar spoon?
from Puffs of Breath
Keith and Renate have books for sale this holiday season: $10 each. Free delivery in Calgary. Visit our website to see samples of our work. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.