About the Author...
Jeff Houlahan was born in Calgary, Alberta and grew up on a series of military bases in Canada and Germany before settling in Ottawa, Canada. He has been a waiter, a security guard (there is nothing less hip than being a nineteen-year-old security guard in full uniform at a midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show), a bartender, made pool liners (a much tougher job than it sounds), delivered mail on Parliament Hill and played guitar in a punk band called The Rainkings.
Along the way, Jeff had a short post-doctoral stint with James Brown, one of the great ecologists of the last 50 years, and the third most famous person with that name. But, for folks with a literary bent, Jim’s greatest claim to fame is that he was Barbara Kingsolver’s M. Sc. supervisor at The University of Arizona. Barbara received her degree sometime between 1983 and 1985 and published The Bean Trees in 1988, so there is a chance that book was in the works while she was studying with Jim.
Today, Jeff lives with his wife Kim in Saint John, New Brunswick and is an ecologist and conservation biologist at the University of New Brunswick. All along he’s been writing – short stories, songs, and, over the last dozen years, novels.
About the Book...
Long Train Home (2022)
Ryan Spencer won’t get on a plane…and a major league ballplayer who won’t get on a plane better hit .400, knock in one hundred and fifty runs and never chase the high cheese. So, it’s fortunate that Ryan is a five-tool player. He can take one low and outside and turn it into two. He can jack a mistake, back-row bleachers, and cherry-pop quick. He can smother the short hop like an unwanted puppy and throw strikes from shallow leftfield. But he won’t fly.
So, like Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and Ted Williams before him, Ryan rides the rails from town to town. But as he travels across the continent he also travels back in time. The first time Ryan wakes on the train, he’s in 1939, sitting beside thirteen-year-old Georgie Abbott who has snuck aboard and is looking for the man who murdered his sister. Ten days later, Ryan wakes between Denver and Kansas City, it’s 1941, Georgie’s two years older, more determined, and looking for help. More help than Ryan can give.
Two weeks later, when Ryan falls asleep on the train from Montreal to New York City, the Expos are struggling, Ryan can’t lay off the outside slider, and his teammates hate him. When he wakes up, Hiroshima is still smoldering, Richard Nixon is running for Congress, seven more girls have been murdered and Georgie Abbott won’t take no for an answer. Georgie and Ryan spend seventy years and the rest of that summer tracking down the men who killed Georgie’s sister and a dozen other young women. And in between Ryan and the Montreal Expos scramble after a wild-card spot and a shot at the big prize.
Long Train Home, a literary thriller, owes something to WP Kinsella and Field of Dreams. It’s about baseball, time’s thin veil, and the weight of accumulated regret, but it’s a new story and a new voice.
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