Amandla Publishing: Left



Robert Buckeye  

95 p.  2009 


Jake. The father. A Sixties radical living in a shack on
the ocean south of Halifax. He works part-time in a socialist bookstore in Halifax. 

Gayle. The mother. She works as a waitress in a diner in Burlington, Vermont.

Dylan. Their son. He teaches literature at Middleton College, an elite college in Vermont.

Sarah. His wife. She is a lawyer in Middleton.

Peggy's Cove. Nova Scotia
Burlington, Vermont
Middleton, Vermont
Eastern Shore, Maryland




Review of Contemporary Fiction 
Vol. XXX, #2 Slovak Fiction
Volume editor Clarice Cloutier

Reviewed by Andy Stewart

Left is not a novel that relies on a complex plot structure to engage the reader. On the contrary, Robert Buckeye's newest work focuses on everyday complexities and the ordinary lives of four characters: Sarah, a wife who must find peace after a separation from her husband; Dylan, Sarah’s distant husband who seeks freedom in the arms of younger women; Gayle, the middle-aged mother who struggles with the pains of the past so she can salvage a future; and Jake, the aging radical father who attempts to find happiness in the "free" life he has constructed for himself. In less skillful hands, these characters would perhaps come across as egocentric or needlessly tragic. However, the greatest contributing factor to Left’s success is that Buckeye makes no judgments about his characters. His narrative follows each of the four characters in turn, closely and intimately, offering insight into their emotional states; their desires and regrets. In this way Buckeye captures a rare emotional authenticity and realism attained by few authors. Stylistically, the author’s form mirrors the novel’s intimate theme. Instead of relying on a traditional chapter structure, his narrative tracks the mundane happenings of each character in small, shifting vignettes. Aside from Sarah and Dylan, the lives of each character rarely intersect. Thus, Buckeye shifts fluidly from one character’s story to the next in a way that both formally and thematically connects his characters to one another. Their struggles unfold in a unison that, at the novel’s end, culminates to a subtle, yet gripping resolution. Artfully crafted, Left is a compact novel rich with poetic prose, keen descriptions and candid personal observations. Moreover, the piece is a testament to Robert Buckeye’s ability to craft a truly honest and powerfully real work of fiction.