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Waste No Tears: Hugh Garner Exposes the Underside of Toronto the Good

Book Cover Waste No Tears

This story with its shocking expose of social evils, holds a forceful message for both sexes. Its strange mixture of power, tension and torment mark it as a human story that will thrill and grip all readers. Down in the depths of the city, washed by the murky waters of the dock-yards lies Skidrow, a dark den of intrigue and mystery, whose crumbling structures harbour the outcasts of the city.—From the 1950 edition

Hugh Garner’s second novel, Waste No Tears, hit drug store and train station spinner racks in July of 1950—then disappeared, never to see print again… until now. This is the latest release from Ricochet Books, a series of vintage noir mysteries edited by Brian Busby. The book's introduction, by Amy Lavender Harris, appears below. 

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Toronto the Good—the straitlaced “City of Churches” where public drinking was prohibited and playground swings padlocked on Sundays—receives a far darker rendering in Hugh Garner’s Waste No Tears, a novel set in the bars, bedrooms and abortion clinics of Toronto’s skid row district. Pitched as “The Novel about the Abortion Racket,” Waste No Tears peels back the city’s thin veneer of respectable civility to reveal a far seamier underside—albeit one with its own covert morality.

First published in 1 …

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Amy Lavender Harris on Reading Local: The Map to Who We Are

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Photo Credit: Ted Cabanes

Growing up in a Toronto suburb in the 1980s, isolated by poverty and social exclusion, I had the opportunity to experience place in a way few of my suburban peers did. While the neighbourhood kids spent their days hanging out at the local mall, watching music videos in their parents’ basements or cycling endless rings around the nearest cul-de-sac, I went down into the ravine, a deep-cut sedimentary floodplain across the road from our house.

I spent hours there every week, tracing a narrow path above the undercut bank, or wading upstream, my feet in the current, silt and schools of tiny fish sluicing through my toes.  In the deep pools where trout lurked in the shadows, I hunted golf balls, and on gravel bars that rose like wedges above the water I looked for fossils lodged in the shale and conglomerate. Season after season I traced its length, edging around ox-bow lakes where grouse erupted from cedar thickets, absorbing the scent of rivermurk, answering the eerie echo of spring peepers , while all the while, the river charted its meandering course through the ravine.

Years later, when at university I studied geomorphology—the science of landscapes—the subject seemed strangely familiar. I realized that I understood the algorithm …

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