Bookmark and Share


The House on Major Street by Leon Rooke  

Populated by media personalities, literary characters, three-legged deer-like creatures and an array of idiosyncratic Toronto neighbours, The House on Major Street is an internal and external picaresque tale that begins with a dramatic bicycle accident and explores, along the way, the blurred boundaries between the stories we read, the stories we tell and the stories we live.

When free-spirited teenager Zan sets out on her bike to buy kitty litter she has no idea she’s about to send her neighbour and maybe-sort-of crush Tallis into a months-long coma, kicking off a series of events both real and surreal that will change everything and everyone on her Toronto Annex street. Metafictional appearances are made by characters as diverse as J. J. O’Molloy, Chekhov’s Ryabovitch, an infamous lapdog and the indignant Rebecca Whitehall, heroine of fictional Sheila Shott’s steamy romance novels. As these and a multitude of others interact with the inhabitants of 2X8 Major Street, friendships, dalliances and alliances are formed and re-formed with uncommon results. Unexpected guests arrive ... and stay. Two questions overarch: Will Tallis ever wake up? And what will that mean for everyone?


2020—ForeWord Indies Book Award,

Review quote

[On appearing as a character in The House on Major Street:]

‘Leon flatters me and of course I’m delighted to be so used by a writer I respect so much. Steve Temple will feel the same I’m sure. Richard Landon, sadly gone now, would be equally flattered by Leon’s very accurate picture of his rapacity—except he would sneer at Leon and goad him by saying the Fisher ‘‘already has three copies of it’’.

‘I shall inquire of Leon, next time I see him, just what he means by ‘‘dishevelled’’ in reference to myself. He only sees me in places where drinking occurs, not in my professional guise where like all greedy dealers I’m always slick and charming. Looks like it’s to be a must-read book.

—David Mason, proprietor, David Mason Books

Excerpt from book

The one window of Tallis Haley’s second-floor room looks out over an exquisite garden. In this garden stands a fine sculpted fountain, erected overnight by unseen hands. So it seems. Because when Tallis Haley—the comet, man! Weird light! Watch that little shit go!—was removed from Children’s Hospital and restored to his own bedroom, the next-door site was a rubble-strewn field. He remembers this clearly. Yes, and rolling hills, trees, swollen streams. Teepees. Muskrat and chipmunk, buffalo!

From a high limb you could see all the way to Winnipeg. Turn a snitch and there is ... Buffalo.

Another century.

Each night now, in the dead of night, no less than a dozen women perambulate, with elaborate cries of ecstasy and considerable expertise in the charm area. A dream. Oh, it’s a dream, by anyone’s account. Bewitching, yes, a joyful ceremony. And every night, you understand, which is hard on a boy in the comate status.

Fantastic events unfolding, here at 2X8 Major.

Ask Daisy, ask Emmitt. Inquire of anyone.

Chekhov is rumoured to abide here.

[Continued inThe House on Major Street...]


Leon Rooke is an international reveller, skirt-chaser and former wastrel whose celebrated oeuvre may have been ghosted by his wicked half-sister, or maybe his mother, or an eighteenth-century ‘Keeper of the Lamps’. But not this one. We may wonder why. Also, he’s a raffish [ed. note: charming] bum.

For more information please visit the Author’s website »

The Porcupine's Quill would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. The financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) is also gratefully acknowledged.

Site Search

Buy from your local independent booksellerBuy UTPBooksBuy AbeBooksBuy PQLPreview Google

FICTION / Literary

FICTION / General

ISBN-13: 9780889844193

Publication Date: 2018-02-15

Dimensions: 8.75 in x 5.56 in

Pages: 224

Price: $19.95