From an award-winning writer reminiscent of Richard Russo and Russell Banks: get ready for a heady and heartbreaking stay in Nanticoke, home of the Sputnik Diner.
Travelling on Highway 3, along the upper lip of Lake Erie and through a moustache of tobacco fields and sky, we arrive in Nanticoke, Ontario. At the heart of the town is the Sputnik Diner, a smoky grill where the jukebox whirs out an ever-changing soundtrack. Navigating their way through the lies and sexual betrayals are Grace, waitress and self-defeating artist; Buzz, who offers the cook's eye view of the eccentric patrons and staff; and Marcel, the gruff French-Canadian owner who doles out hilarious malapropisms and his own peculiar brand of hospitality.
In muscular prose, Maddocks traces the lives of flawed, gutsy, and utterly loveable characters: an immigrant family from Wales, struggling to find their place in the ragged, darkly absurd world of tobacco-belt Ontario; two young brothers who steal the family car and try to come to grips with their father's cancer out on the dinosaur mini-putt course in the pouring rain; and Grace, who seeks out her birth parents only to confront the dizzying epiphanies of that momentous discovery. There are others too, whose stalled dreams, gritty hopes and humour spark through the Sputnik Diner universe.