Monday, September 27, 2010

Under the Electric Sky: The Legacy of the Bill Lynch Shows

Under the Electric Sky: The Legacy of the Bill Lynch Shows

Christopher A. Walsh

Nonfiction: The Maritimes, Carnivals, Entertainment
160 pages
6" x 9" Trade Paperback
Includes photographs
ISBN 978-1-897426-17-3
Available in September 2010
Order this book from: Nimbus Publishing (or 1-800-Nimbus9)
or Chapters or Pottersfield Press mail order.

"Bill Lynch and his carnival boys and girls will be back again. No need to introduce him, for his aggregation of tents, rides, and booths is known from one end of the Maritime provinces to the other." - The Halifax Mail, August 25, 1934.

Under the Electric Sky takes readers on a thrilling ride through the strange and fabled history of the Bill Lynch Shows, from its modest beginnings on McNab's Island in Halifax Harbour to the successful, tumultuous years criss-crossing the countryside to its current incarnation struggling along dark Maritime highways today.

This is one of the most curious stories of this region's past, one never completely understood and, until now, never told in its entirety. The Bill Lynch Shows would breeze into small Maritime towns after dark, packed with enough electricity and magic to illuminate the imaginations of anyone who stepped foot on the midway for the brief while it played their town. For many, its return after a long winter made summer official. The shows became entrenched in the collective psyche, at once the centre of earthly thrills and some of the greatest acts of charity ever witnessed in the region. Clarence "Soggy" Reid continued the enterprise in the same manner, until the death of a man on the carnival lot in Port Hawkesbury threatened to destroy the dream forever.

Walsh chronicles the true story of the Maritime carnival with unflinching detail, weaving flashes of the carnival's captivating past with a first-hand account of life on the carnival lot today. This is the definitive tale of the owners and hustlers who shaped the course of the business, attractions like the Turtle Woman and the Man with Two Faces who headlined the sideshow tents over the years, and the family of carnies who, for different reasons, called "the Show" home. At the core of the rough-and-tumble carnival world is a heart-rending story of sometimes misunderstood outsiders and their desperate estrangement from, and deep commitment to, the people of the Maritimes.

Christopher A. Walsh is an award-winning freelance journalist based in Calgary, Alberta. His work has appeared in the Edmonton Journal and the Halifax Chronicle-Herald and on CBC Radio in Nova Scotia. A native of Halifax, he has covered major political stories across the country and spent a few feverish weeks running with the Maritime carnival in towns throughout the region. This is his first book.