I Was There the Night He Died

“So,” she says. “Who died tonight?”

Sam Samson, meet Samantha. Sam’s a novelist: his dad has Alzheimer’s, his mother died of stroke, his wife was killed seventeen months ago in a car crash. Samantha, eighteen, is a cutter. She lives across the street from Sam’s parents’ house. Marijuana and loneliness spark an unlikely friendship, which Sam finds hard to navigate, especially as his dad’s condition worsens and the money for his care suddenly vanishes. Yet somehow, between a record player and a park bench, through late-night conversations about the deaths of Sam’s musical heroes, and ultimately through each other, Sam and Samantha learn to endure the things they fear most.

Starring a 40-something writer who stumbles through the small town he thought he’d left behind forever, and a marooned teenager who wishes she were anywhere else, I Was There The Night He Died is a saucy, swaggering look at loss, love, and the redeeming power of music in the twenty-first century.

Praise for I Was There the Night He Died

I Was There the Night He Died is intimate, moving, and while the terrain is familiar, Robertson takes enough left turns and side streets to make it fresh.
– Winnipeg Review

An exceptional novel by one of the country’s finest literary voices.

– National Post

As befits a character who spends his days putting the world into words, the style is writerly, self-conscious and poignant — just the right level of narcissism — without being self-flagellating or flowery. It’s a redemptive story about love despite the prevalence and certainty of death.
The Globe and Mail
Robertson’s style of writing is exceptionally readable; you’ll fall right into this book. His writing is wry, full of a poet’s wisdom in its observations on life and death, and replete with a dark (read honest) kind of wit.
– The Overcast

As Robertson ponders family and home as well as “what it means to love someone and to lose someone and to have to go on living anyway,” he presents an intriguing character whose very real troubles are offset by bright flashes of hope.

Publishers Weekly

Ray Robertson returns with a novel that considers themes of death, loss, and self-harm, all presented with a folk singer’s slouched but sturdy backbone and a cowboy’s loaded smile … If there’s one thing Robertson gets just right, it’s heartbreak.

-Quill & Quire

For Ray Robertson, writing is more than a career. Beyond a passion and a proclivity, it’s a way of making sense of a world that can often seem pretty senseless.

– Post City

I Was There The Night He Died doesn’t read like a lot of Canadian fiction. It’s urban, has a lot of alt-country and obscure rock and roll in it, and it’s not trying to turn anyone into a better human being. It’s just a great story populated by some very real, very flawed characters.
– The Cord