The great American writer, John Updike, published his four Rabbit novels over a period of 30 years and each is a glimpse into a decade of Middle America. Don Gillmor’s, Mount Pleasant, does something that is quite similar to Updike. The novel centers on Harry Salter, an aging academic who is looking hard at the balance sheet of his life. What do we inherit from our parents and what do we pass on to our children? These are the questions which churn through Harry’s mind at night.
The novel is firmly set in contemporary Toronto and our current economic situation. The fallout from the recent banking crisis is real and putting on the squeeze, even on old money. What Harry had been counting on has now become quick sand beneath his feet. Also on the balance sheet are his relationships with his recently dead father, his aging alcoholic mother, his wife, and even his son and his son’s very independent girlfriend. At each turn, Harry must reassess his previous assumptions on how to make a life.
Gillmor tackles serious topics without creating gloom. Harry is a character we can recognize, laugh with (and at), and cheer for. What the author has done is create a character who can take his place alongside Updike’s Rabbit Angstrom, but we will recognize Harry Salter as purely Canadian.