Moody Food

From critically acclaimed novelist Ray Robertson comes a rollicking Great Gatsby of the 60s – a sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll-suffused modern tragedy. For Bill Hansen, things couldn’t be better. He’s got a beautiful folk-singer girlfriend, a job at Toronto’s coolest bookstore and, most of all, he’s got Yorkville, which in 1966 is nothing short of paradise for a boy from the suburbs. And then Bill meets the charismatic Thomas Graham, who draws Bill into an obsessive quest to create what he calls “Interstellar North American Music” and the Duckhead Secret Society is born and launched on a whirlwind tour of bars, taverns and dives across America. But in the haze of harder and harder drugs, it all starts to come undone. As Bill recounts the rise and fall of Thomas Graham and his musical vision, he simultaneously tells the story of frustrated idealism and the passing of an entire generation.

Praise for Moody Food

Moody Food has the vibrancy of The Sun Also Rises, but instead of Pamplona, we have Toronto’s Yorkville in the 1960’s. It’s a tale of idealism gone awry, of dreams going off the rails, of life catching up with those who live it at too rapid a pace. Robertson’s ability to catch the mood of the times is uncanny. Moody Food simply bursts with the life of the street.

London Free Press

Clever, word-drunk, and falling-down funny . . . Robertson is a moral writer and a bitingly intelligent one, a man who writes with penetrating insight of what needs to be written about: beauty, truth and goodness.

Globe and Mail

Robertson’s skill in writing about music earns this book its place on this list. He doesn’t merely describe a song from the outside; he enters fully into the flow, recreating the experience for the reader with an often heart-breaking clarity. There are musical moments in Moody Foodthat are, quite literally, breathtaking.
The Vancouver Sun

One of the major pleasures of the book — one among many — is its language…every voice and description in the book rings with authenticity.

The National Post

Riotous and tender, funny and sad, Moody Food is as good an elegy for the counterculture as we’ve seen. The question, ‘What if someone were to a write a 60’s rock novel worthy of its subject’ need no longer be asked.

Books in Canada

Young Canadian novelist Robertson re-creates the funky atmosphere of 1960s Toronto in this homage to the short, drug-fueled life of musician Gram Parsons (here fictionalized as American southerner Thomas Graham). Yorkville bookstore employee Bill Henderson is instantly mesmerized by his first sighting of Graham, who is decked out in his customary flamboyant attire–“white cowboy boots and a red silk shirt, all topped off with a white jacket covered with a green sequined pot plant, a couple of sparkling acid cubes, and a pair of woman’s breasts.” Once Graham lays out his vision for melding country and rock, what he calls Interstellar North American Music, the ragtag band is born, with Bill’s bald, vegan girlfriend on bass and an alcoholic old-timer on a weeping pedal steel guitar. As they embark on a tour that takes them from dives to the legendary Whisky Club in L.A., Thomas and Bill become increasingly obsessed with their music and with hard drugs. Robertson builds in a sense of foreboding even as he offers a frequently hilarious take on a troubled musical visionary.

Joanne Wilkinson


…his characters are as engaging as they are vivid. The spell of his barroom yarn never lets up…Burning question: Will Ray Robertson and his book make the cover of Rolling Stone?

The Montreal Gazette