Clifford

Clifford

A Memoir, A Fiction, A Fantasy, A Thought Experiment

Written by: Johnson, Harold R.

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From the bestselling author of Firewater comes a moving tribute to an older brother that traverses the thresholds of memoir, fiction, and fantasy and reimagines what could have been.

When Harold Johnson returns to his childhood home in a northern Indigenous community for his brother Clifford’s funeral, the first thing his eyes fall on is a chair. It stands on three legs, the fourth broken off and missing. So begins a journey through the past, a retrieval of recollections of his silent, powerful Swedish father; his formidable Cree mother; and his brother Clifford, a precocious young boy who is drawn to the mysterious workings of the universe. As the night unfolds, memories of Clifford surface in Harold’s mind’s eye. Memory, fiction, and fantasy collide, and Clifford comes to life as the scientist he was meant to be, culminating in his discovery of the Grand Unified Theory.

Exquisitely crafted, funny, visionary, and wholly moving, Clifford is an extraordinary work that embraces myriad forms of storytelling. To read it is to be immersed in a home, a family, a community, the wider world, the entire cosmos.

From the bestselling author of Firewater comes a moving tribute to an older brother that traverses the thresholds of memoir, fiction, and fantasy and reimagines what could have been.

When Harold Johnson returns to his childhood home in a northern Indigenous community for his brother Clifford’s funeral, the first thing his eyes fall on is a chair. It stands on three legs, the fourth broken off and missing. So begins a journey through the past, a retrieval of recollections of his silent, powerful Swedish father; his formidable Cree mother; and his brother Clifford, a precocious young boy who is drawn to the mysterious workings of the universe. As the night unfolds, memories of Clifford surface in Harold’s mind’s eye. Memory, fiction, and fantasy collide, and Clifford comes to life as the scientist he was meant to be, culminating in his discovery of the Grand Unified Theory.

Exquisitely crafted, funny, visionary, and wholly moving, Clifford is an extraordinary work that embraces myriad forms of storytelling. To read it is to be immersed in a home, a family, a community, the wider world, the entire cosmos.

Published By House of Anansi Press Inc — Aug 28, 2018
Specifications 264 pages | 5.25 in x 8 in
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Excerpt
Written By

HAROLD R. JOHNSON is the author of five works of fiction and five works of nonfiction, including Firewater: How Alcohol Is Killing My People (and Yours), which was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Nonfiction. Born and raised in northern Saskatchewan to a Swedish father and a Cree mother, Johnson served in the Canadian Navy and has been a miner, logger, mechanic, trapper, fisherman, tree planter, and heavy-equipment operator. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School and managed a private practice for several years before becoming a Crown prosecutor. Johnson is a member of the Montreal Lake Cree Nation. He is now retired from the practice of law and writes full time.

Written By

HAROLD R. JOHNSON is the author of five works of fiction and five works of nonfiction, including Firewater: How Alcohol Is Killing My People (and Yours), which was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Nonfiction. Born and raised in northern Saskatchewan to a Swedish father and a Cree mother, Johnson served in the Canadian Navy and has been a miner, logger, mechanic, trapper, fisherman, tree planter, and heavy-equipment operator. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School and managed a private practice for several years before becoming a Crown prosecutor. Johnson is a member of the Montreal Lake Cree Nation. He is now retired from the practice of law and writes full time.

Winner, Saskatchewan Book Awards: University of Saskatchewan Non-Fiction Award, 2018

Short-listed, Saskatchewan Book Awards: Rasmussen, Rasmussen & Charowsky Indigenous Peoples’ Writing Award, 2018

“The story’s meditations on loss, family, and fateful actions prove absorbing from the opening page.” —Toronto Star

“A brilliant mix of realism and fantasy.” —London Free Press


“Clifford is a luminous, genre-bending memoir. Heartache and hardship are no match for the disarming whimsy, the layered storytelling shot through with love. The power of land, the pull of family, the turbulence of poverty are threads woven together with explorations of reality, tackling truth with a trickster slant.” —Eden Robinson, author of Son of a Trickster

“Clifford is a story only Harold Johnson could tell. By turns soft and harsh, intellectual and emotional, Johnson weaves truth, fiction, science, and science fiction into a tapestry that is rich with meaning and maybes. A natural storyteller, Johnson seeks imagined pasts and futurity with equal parts longing and care. This work allows readers and writers the possibility of new and ancient modes of storytelling.” —Tracey Lindberg, author of Birdie

“Harold R. Johnson is a wonderful writer, and Clifford is his best work yet. For fans of Jack Finney and Richard Matheson, this terrific book is a wonderfully human tale of memory both bitter and sweet, as well as a poignant exploration of time’s hold over all of us.” —Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo Award–winning author of Quantum Night

“Clifford is unlike anything I’ve read — it is at once a story of science and magic, love and loss, and a case for the infinite potential of humanity. It is a book of profound wisdom — an unpacking of the deepest truths of science in an effort to transform the pain of grief and regret into healing and forgiveness.” —Patti Laboucane-Benson, author of The Outside Circle