Dan Close’s newest novel, “Song of Quebec,” is a historic thriller set in the summer of 1971 during the turmoil of the Canadian province’s Quiet Revolution, a time of intense socio-political and cultural change. Close will be at the South Burlington Public Library, Thursday, Jan. 31, 6:30 p.m., where he will read from his novel and offer commentary on Quebec’s Séparatiste Revolution of 1960 to 1980.
Close, who hails from South Burlington, said he first began writing the novel in 1964, when he visited Quebec City for the first time.
“It is the story of Jack Kearney, an American, who arrives in Quebec City trailing just a bit of mystery about him; and Genevieve St. Hilaire, a street singer who has some secrets of her own,” Close said. “The action takes place less than a year after the kidnapping and murder of Quebec’s Minister of Labor Pierre Laporte, and the kidnapping of James Cross, the British Trade Minister to Canada. Five hundred members of the Front de Liberation du Quebec have been rounded up by the Sureté and the Mounties at the order of Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada. But the Quiet Revolution continues, and it is about to explode.”
Having finished the first draft in the 1970s while in New York City, he says a publishing firm with offices also in Toronto had considered it for publication.
“They finally decided it was too dangerous to publish,” said Close, adding, “Something about the national security of Canada. So, I put it away.”
Three and a half years ago, while recovering from a heart attack, Close took a look at a pile of his old manuscripts. Thinking at the time it would be easier to revise rather than write something new, he reports his assumption was wrong.
“But it is a better book now,” the author said. “A lot more has been written on the subject, and with the burgeoning of the internet, more material is available - the songs, for instance. They are all on YouTube now. And the biographical materials of the historical characters and the historical importance of incidents - important for background settings - are more complete.”
A previous novel of Close’s, a historical novel set in Ethiopia titled “The Glory of the Kings,” was the recipient of the 2014 Maria Thomas Fiction Award from Peace Corps Writers. Another of his books, “What the Abenaki Say About Dogs,” received the official seal of the Vermont Quadricentennial Celebration of Samuel Champlain. In addition to his novels, poetry, and essays, Close notes that his translated folk tales from Ethiopia is part of a special collection in the Library of Congress.
A past board member and treasurer of the League of Vermont Writers, Close is a member of the executive board of the Poetry Society of Vermont.
The SBPL is in the University Mall, at 155 Dorset St. For more information, visit www.sburlcomlib.com.