Taking the Stairs


Taking the Stairs

By John Stiles

Nightwood Editions
5.5 x 8.5 - 214 pages
Paperback - $21.95
May 2008

"Taking the Stairs is subtle, desperation-laced with bits of hope that compel it forward with improbable force. It’s Stiles’ best, and a winner by all accounts."
—Corb Lund

Longlisted for the 2009 Relit Award for the novel

Jarod Palmer is a 32-year-old Toronto writer waiting for his big break—though a small one will do. Haunted by his story of tragic teenage sweethearts in smalltown Nova Scotia—featuring the unforgettable Lana Banana—Jarod is infected by the ancient mariner’s curse on all young unpublished novelists to "tell the tale." The problem is that he is trying to pursue his solitary and introspective task in a city that feels like a film set: "the lights are on all the time."

Between answering constant phone calls from his doting, overprotective mother and a perpetually neurotic, alcoholic and soon-to-be-divorced film producer determined to convince Jarod into plying his trade for the "dark side," Jarod finds time to communicate just as ineffectively with his volatile Spanish girlfriend.

His pursuit of work gives new meaning to the term "odd job": dishwasher, copywriter, telemarketer, door-to-door salesman, film set gofer . . . One day, despite a $50-per-hour press-release-writing gig, Jarod finds himself at a restaurant table with his girlfriend, a bottle of ketchup, a bill, and not a dime in his pocket.

Sorting through life in the city, writing, rejection letters from publishers, jobs, and a rocky relationship, Taking the Stairs is fast-moving, risky and infectiously fun. This is the story of Jarod Palmer's self-discovery—a coming-of-age for the soon-to-be-evicted. It's the perfect book for anyone who's ever found themselves an elevator-ride away from their dreams.