Undefeated by decades of rent increases and declining readership, Phil Cooper’s secondhand bookstore finally succumbs to COVID-19 and he reluctantly decides to move the business online. In the newfound quiet of cybercommerce, he starts to suspect he’s been smoking a little too much pot, listening to a little too much Grateful Dead, and may be overdue on sorting out who he is and what he’s doing here, and where, in fact we might all be going. So he makes another decision: to teach himself 2,500 years of Western philosophy. Thankfully, he’s met Caroline, an ex-postal worker and fellow book lover, who agrees to join him on his quest. But they’ll have to hurry: Caroline has stage 4 cancer. Thankfully, they’ve got plenty of books, a stash of potent medical marijuana, and the Dead to see them through. It’s going to be a long, strange trip. Profound, perceptive, and wryly observed, Estates Large and Small is the story of one man’s reckoning and an ardent defense of the shape books make in a life.
Praise for Ray Robertson
“While How to Die is a slim book, it offers some hefty insights, leavened with frequent, self-effacing humour. There are numerous passages here which, while quick to read (the book is very accessible, despite its philosophical bona fides), nonetheless take hours to fully internalize … Brilliant.” —Toronto Star
“Robertson is a moral writer and a bitingly intelligent one, a man who writes with penetrating insight of what needs to be written about: beauty, truth and goodness.”—Globe and Mail
“Heartfelt, funny, rigorous, practical without ever being preachy … a book that feels like a friend.”—Montreal Gazette
“Sharp-tongued … as Robertson ponders family and home as well as ‘what it means to love someone and to lose someone and to have to go on living anyway,’ he presents an intriguing character whose very real troubles are offset by bright flashes of hope.”—Publishers Weekly
“One of the country’s finest literary voices.”—National Post
“Many of us sense that the world has too many moving parts and can become utterly defeated. Ray Robertson has found a road back in this splendid and intriguing book [Why Not: Fifteen Reasons to Live].”—Jim Harrison