Chatham native Ray Robertson publishes new novel, Estates Large and Small


Chatham-born author Ray Robertson likes to tell a story in his novels that makes the reader reflect on his own life and he hit the mark with ‘Estates Large and Small’.

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Chatham-born author Ray Robertson likes to tell a story in his novels that gets his readers thinking about their own lives.

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He hit the mark again with Estates Large and Small.

In the novel, Phil Cooper is a second-hand bookstore owner who, forced to close his beloved Queen Street store in Toronto due to an unaffordable rent hike, transitions to an online book business since his home.

Smoking too much weed and immersing himself in nightly sessions of Grateful Dead music, Phil decides it’s time to take stock of his life by studying 2,500 years of Western philosophy.

He meets Caroline, a former postal worker and book lover with terminal cancer, who decides to join him in his quest for knowledge, which quickly becomes a romantic relationship.

“I don’t really write romance stories, but I found I was and was a little tickled,” Robertson said.

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He said Phil and Caroline kind of clicked when they ended up in the same room together.

Their relationship takes an interesting turn when Caroline shares with Phil her intention to end her life on her own terms.

“The sole purpose of death. . . is to help you live a better life,” Robertson said.

After delving into the subject of death in fiction and non-fiction books, Robertson said the thing about novels is the freedom to put ideas into action and spice them up, which is harder to do with non-fiction.

He said Caroline’s approach to euthanasia is only one approach.

“It’s not easy, but I think it’s worth exploring.”

Robertson, who has written 14 books, said Estates Large and Small seems to get more feedback than most of his work.

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He thinks this attention is due to the various points covered, including The Grateful Dead, cannabis, philosophy, closed bookstores, the pandemic and euthanasia.

Robertson began writing Estates Large and Small before the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdown. He had a choice of continuing with a story set in the pre-COVID era or reworking it to include aspects of the pandemic.

As time went by, Robertson thought it was the perfect time to write the book during lockdown “because it’s kind of a metaphor for all of us.

“I think during (the pandemic) a lot of people said, ‘Damn, you know, that’s practically not enough,'” he added.

“Doing a Zoom birthday party was a little funky at first and then after a while, ‘You know what? It’s a little sterile, a little hollow,'” Robertson said. some people the importance of connection between people.”

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He said that Phil, who is a loner, is starting to realize he misses the social aspects of his shop and the different characters that have come to browse.

Joking that he was practicing social distancing long before the government told him to, Robertson wonders, “What maybe we didn’t appreciate or maybe we held for acquired before (COVID)?

Robertson will be in Chatham on September 17 to kick off Estates Large and Small with a Turns and Tales reading, signing and Q&A at 213 King St. W., starting at 2 p.m.

Noting that he hasn’t been able to promote his latest books in person due to the pandemic, Robertson said he was looking forward to being in a room full of people to discuss his new novel.

“I don’t think I’ve ever felt as grateful as I do now,” he said. “It’s like anything, you appreciate it more when you lose it.”

Estates Large and Small will officially go on sale August 16, but is already starting to hit bookstores, according to Windsor-based book publisher Biblioasis.

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