The Figures of Beauty

A novel

From the author of the Giller Prize-nominated Summer Gone comes a sensuous, heartbreaking novel about art, beauty, and the choices we make that define us for life.

A young man travels to Paris in 1968, where a series of unlikely events take him to a tiny village in Italy-and the one great love of his life. A marble merchant meets a couple on their honeymoon, introducing them to the sensual beauty of the Carrara region. An Italian woman arrives in Canada to find the father she never knew. A terrible accident in a marble quarry changes the course of a young boy's life and, ultimately, sets in motion each of these stories, which Macfarlane masterfully shapes into a magnificent whole.

Oliver Hughson falls in love with wild, bohemian Anna over the course of one glorious summer in Italy. Bound by a sense of responsibility to his adoptive parents back home in Canada, however, he leaves her, an act he will regret for the rest of his life. Narrated by the daughter he never knew he had, The Figures of Beauty is a love story of mythic proportions. Through luck, fate, and great good fortune, Oliver found the one place and the one woman he should never have left. This is the story of him trying to find his way back.

"The Figures of Beauty is a rich, imaginative novel about art, life and beauty. It's epic in scale but intimate in tone, with Macfarlane's prose as crisp and pure as Carrara marble. One of the best novels I've read all year."
Ross King, author of Leonardo and the Last Supper

"As the novel unfolds, everyone, it seems, is connected to everyone else through bizarre and beautiful twists and turns of, well, fate.... Figures of Beauty is also a very poignant meditation on regret-about lives half-lived.... Sub-textually, Figures of Beauty is also an aesthetic treatise of the human impulse to make beauty, to create art. And Macfarlane tells this story in a deeply affecting way."
-The Toronto Star

"With The Figures of Beauty, Macfarlane traces a complex tale across pages that span huge tracts of time and distance. He takes away all hope, then chips purpose out of stone. Tragedy, he suggests, is never pointless. And every single person, and every single thing, has a story. It's worth going down a lot of meandering paths to find out what those stories are."
-The Globe and Mail

"Macfarlane sculpts several disparate tales into a smooth, rock-solid whole. His ambitions are high, but in a language as rich as the fruits of the scenic landscapes in which he situates his characters and their stories, he pulls off a far grander narrative with skill and intrigue."
-Vancouver Weekly

"The strength is that a dreamlike mood is established, in which beautiful artifacts-a German Luger, the statue of a woman with a jug-recur like magical objects. They serve to tie the narrative together and to confirm Anna's view that 'stories are hidden in objects'."
-National Post



The Danger Tree

Memory, War, And The Search For A Family's Past

Emulating the circuitous tales told by his mother's relatives, the Goodyears of Newfoundland, David Macfalane weaves the major events of the island's twentieth century--the ravages of tuberculosis; the great seal-hunt disaster; the bitter Confederation debate, and above all, the First World War--into his own tale of the ill-starred fortunes of his family. He brings to life a multi-generational cast of characters who are as colourful as only Newfoundlanders can be. With humour, insight, and genuine love for those heroes and charlatans, pirates and dreamers, he explores the meaning of family and the consequences of forgotten history.

"An altogether remarkable, frequently funny, genuinely moving, and utterly original book."
Jan Morris

"I've just discovered The Danger Tree and am stunned. It is so good. [It's] about the best prose ever to come out of this country, for my money."
Alice Munro

"[David Macfarlane's] Newfoundland memoir, The Danger Tree, is easily one of the most readable and beautifully written books to emerge from Canada in recent years."
Mordecai Richler, Saturday Night

"The Danger Tree is a masterpiece. David Macfarlane is an architect of the past, building extraordinary memory mansions in which the reader feels eerily at home."
Alberto Manguel

"The Danger Tree is absolutely riveting: an extraordinary mixture of history, memory, fiction, and technique that succeeds at every level. I was touched, I was exhilarated, and I was thrilled to read a book that has risen to the challenge of recording Canada's past, the past in all our hearts."
Michael Ignatieff

"Macfarlane's debut is an auspicious one for a country that now, more than ever in its history, needs popular authors who can turn the past into stories that illuminate the present."
Maclean's

"Wry, informative, and deeply moving ... the literary tour de force of the year."
Philip Marchand, The Toronto Star

"Splendid!"
New York Times

"The Danger Tree is a wonderful book, a true masterpiece."
Simon Winchester

"Intense and beautiful. . . . One of the finest and mostly intriguing miniature elegies that I have read in many years."
Christopher Hitchens, Newsday

"[An] uncommonly wise and moving book."
Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post

Published by HarperCollins
ISBN 9781443415996

Purchase:
Buy at Indigo
Buy at Amazon
Buy Local



Summer Gone

The admired, bestselling author of The Danger Tree joins Knopf Canada with his masterful first work of fiction: a haunting novel about love experienced and love remembered that is also an unforgettable celebration and evocation of the brief beauty of a northern summer.

Summer Gone is about that moment when everything stops. Like skilled canoeists, we briefly hold a perfect balance - poised between innocence and experience, life and death, discovery and loss, the promise of spring and the sadness of autumn - and we believe, foolishly, that those perfect days will last forever.

Set among the islands and lakes of "cottage country", this major first novel from one of Canada's premier writers explores the stories of three generations of lost summers. But Summer Gone is primarily the story of a divorced father and a young son separated by the silence of estrangement, and how during one extraordinary night on an ill-fated canoe trip the silence is broken. Yet, as the novel unfolds, tragedy looms over father and son in ways they could never have imagined, and leads to the book's gripping and startling conclusion.

Summer Gone is an exquisite novel, beautifully written and powerfully told.

"Summer Gone is a homage to our most excruciating and beautiful memories. Within this novel is the marvellous height of summer, perfect and fleeting, a place and time we can never get enough of."
The Globe and Mail

"Summer Gone is a novel about telling stories -- one that merges fiction and truth, past and present, memory and action, into one dangerous and beautiful current."
The Calgary Herald

"David Macfarlane rises to the challenge of a first novel...[he] gets degree of difficulty points...[and] it works. Mr. Macfarlane writes beautifully and gets his story across powerfully...a rewarding reading experience."
The Ottawa Citizen

"Summer Gone is a summer vacation in the north woods, with all that implies to you the reader."
Winnipeg Free Press

"As with most good fiction, the real joy of Macfarlane's book is in the quietly choreographed moments where the author's insights into people mesh with his undeniable skill with language."
Eye

"...Summer Gone is a polished, well-crafted novel that dwells on fresh, powerful themes."
The Annex Gleaner

"...Summer Gone is a triumph of voice, storytelling and slippery connections."
The Vancouver Sun, Aug. 28/99

"The rough landscape of northern Ontario takes on universal dimensions in Summer Gone, David Macfarlane's expertly controlled first novel...Finishing Summer Gone leaves the reader with a sense of loss-not only the loss that inheres in Bay Newling's quiet tragedy, but the loss of the narrator's good company upon reaching the final page."
The New York Times Book Review

"Summer Gone is a remarkable achievement full of wit, intelligence and humane charm. Its poise is unfaltering, holding firm between joy and heartache, innocence and understanding, life and loss. This book should not be only applauded but cherished."
The Toronto Star

Published by Knopf Canada
ISBN 978-0-676-97280-1
(0-676-97280-2)

Purchase within Canada:
Independent Bookstores
Indigo/Chapters
Amazon

Purchase within USA:
Amazon



What Will Be Has Always Been

An Illustrated History of Toronto

Toronto's story: from pre-European contact to the contemporary city.

A modern city is a complex layering of time, and so inherent is this texture to Toronto it often goes un-remarked upon by its inhabitants. It seems too obvious to be mentioned - and yet it is the city's central characteristic. New office towers rise beside Victorian homes and storefronts; faded ads for blankets can be seen on old brick walls next to billboards for cell-phones; recent immigrants - from Nigeria and Vietnam, from Ethiopia and China, from South Korea and India -- sit next on subway cars to people whose families first came to Toronto to escape the Highland Clearances, or the Irish potato famine, or the American Revolution, or slavery; a concrete expressway passes over the spot where fish were sold on a wooden wharf. And on a quiet, middle-class street in Toronto's west-end, a skeleton is discovered by a surprised work crew - half of it under the old, dark earth of long ago, half of it under the grey of a modern city sidewalk.

From the Prologue to What Will Be Has Always Been


Toronto's history can't be easily read by strolling through its streets. Pedestrians curious enough to stop and consider such things often wonder why the biggest and most centrally located statue in Queen's Park is an equestrian memorial to a King. Tourists are perplexed by a lighthouse that now stands, overgrown and forgotten, far from the shore of the Toronto Islands. And in the autumn of 2007, a visiting English tourist watched two archeologists at work in a cordoned-off, downtown site. When told that she was looking at the foundations of Toronto's earliest brick residences and that they would be paved over once documentary photographs had been taken and the site's artifacts had been extracted, she remarked, "If this city won't preserve its past it will never be able to grow old."

From Chapter One of What Will Be Has Always Been

By David Macfarlane
Project Coordinator: Nancy Lang
Design: Barb Woolley (Hambly and Woolley Inc.)
Editor: John Macfarlane



Toronto: A City Becoming

Edited by David Macfarlane

In this collection of provocative essays, the subject is Toronto. But not Toronto the static, Toronto the understandable, Toronto the known-commodity. As its title suggests, Toronto: A City Becoming argues that Canada's biggest city is undergoing a major transformation. Whether for good or ill, Toronto is changing before the eyes of its citizens. And it's possible to interpret this change any number of ways. From city to big city? From post-industrial to creative? From nominally multicultural to truly diverse? From functioning metropolis to dysfunctional megalopolis? From placid (if dull) urban centre to exciting (if dangerous) city? From bad to worse? Or from good to better?

The book includes twenty-two essays that will inspire real debate on the key issues facing the city. Contributors such as the acclaimed academic and author, Richard Florida, Toronto's former mayor, David Crombie, urban geographer, Meric Gertler, art critic, Sarah Milroy, political economist, James Milway, architect, John van Nostrand, and bestselling author and journalist Linda McQuaig take a wide variety of compelling and provocative perspectives on Toronto as it enters the 21st century. The book also features visual essays by some of Toronto's pre-eminent photographers, including Michael Awad's unique cityscapes, Scott Johnston's resonating portraits of Regent Park, and David Kaufman's exquisite architectural studies of buildings, storefronts, and landmarks.

Rarely, if ever, has it been possible to witness with such clarity the passage of one kind of urban entity to another. Toronto: A City Becoming reveals the transformation of city at an exciting moment in its history.

Read "Secret City", an excerpt from the introduction, in the Articles section >

Published by Key Porter Books
ISBN 1552639495

Purchase within Canada:
Independent Bookstores
Indigo/Chapters
Amazon

Purchase within USA:
Amazon




At the Ojibway

100 Summers on Georgian Bay

The Ojibway is an old place, not as far away from everything as it used to be. It's on an island, just inside the outer shoals of the eastern edge of Georgian Bay. It used to be a long way off, but is not so difficult to get to now: a few hours on a highway, a few minutes in a boat. And there it is.

The weathered shingles, the expansive dock, the stately tower, and the shafts of white pine are familiar enough sights to people who spend their summers in Pointe au Baril, Ontario. But the Ojibway is the kind of place that looks familiar even to people who have never seen it before. The creation of a courtly former railway agent from Rochester, New York, it was built in 1906 and seemed, even in the earliest days, to embody summers past. It's as if the stone stairs and the gracious veranda remind anyone who approaches that time slips away, but that not everything slips away with it. Some things we hold on to. Summers are faster and noisier now than they were when Hamilton C. Davis first set eyes on the forty-two-acre island where he would build his hotel. But some things we manage to preserve.

From At the Ojibway

Distributed by Key Porter Books ISBN 155263907X
(978-1552639078)

Purchase within Canada:
Independent Bookstores
Indigo/Chapters
Amazon



What I Meant To Say

The Private Lives of Men
Ian Brown, general editor
David Macfarlane, contributor

In What I Meant to Say, writer and broadcaster Ian Brown has gathered 25 beautifully crafted and thoroughly readable essays by some of Canada's most interesting male voices - pieces of writing that explore, reveal and explain the terrain of manhood, both new and old.

From "Boner and Nothingness" by David Macfarlane:

It is a misconception, common to women and men alike, that an erection necessarily has something to do with sex. It is easy to see how such a fallacy takes hold. One need only spend a short time in a barnyard before the connection is made. But I'm not so sure. Frankly, I'm inclined - so to speak - to a more holistic explanation.

My misgivings first arose.... (Look. The subject is so rife with cheap double-entendres, I think we should ignore them whenever they pop up, don't you?) As I was saying. My doubts on this matter arose in math class in grade six.

Depending on how a man measures these things (you see what I mean?), you might put the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue or the Victoria's Secret catalogue at one end of the sexual excitement graph. And, speaking of graphs, you'd put Miss Peebles' grade six math class at the other.

Sex and Miss Peebles seemed worlds apart - even at a time in my life when I knew less about sex than I did about math. Which is saying something. There are Zen masters who spend years attempting to find the emptiness that I attained when Miss Peebles shut the door behind her and said, "Good morning, class." There was not a thought in my head for the ensuing forty minutes. Certainly, Miss Peebles - her hair rolled into what looked like a bullet-proof bun; her eyes, small and piercing and shielded by rimless spectacles -- was a source of no fascination. Neither sex nor arithmetic crossed my mind while in her presence. And yet, every math class, there I was: a hypotenuse more than equal to the sum of the other two sides.

Published by Thomas Allen Publishers
ISBN 0887621902
(978-0887621901)

Purchase within Canada:
Independent Bookstores
Indigo/Chapters
Amazon

Purchase within USA:
Amazon