Immortal Highway: Songs From the Healing Tour
by Jon Magidsohn
After his wife’s death, Jon and his infant son embark on a six-week road trip – father and son alone on an emotional adventure. Part travel book, part love story.
- Adventure, Memoir, Music, Parenting & Family, Self Help, Travel
- Page Length:
- 250 – 500 Pages
- Book Status:
- Completed Manuscript
When Jon and his wife Sue, a CBC journalist in Toronto, were expecting their first child she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Immortal Highway begins with the immediacy of Sue’s death after the long months of cancer treatment, the birth of their son, Myles, major surgery and her final moments.
Framed by the six-week road trip around North America the author took with his son, by this time nearly ten months old, Immortal Highway negotiates Jon’s efforts of coping with the sorrow of loss and the profound joy in being a new father. They drive among endless rolling mid-western hills, explore a cave, find confidence in the flat prairies and lose it again in the desert states. On the California coast, as far from home as they would get, the truth about Jon’s old life – and what it means as he begins to formulate a new one – starts to become clearer. Reacting to a close call in British Columbia, Jon examines the natural volatility in his marriage that could have been amplified by the addition of a child. Regardless of her death, he imagines, they may have always ended up apart.
Meant to kick-start his discovery of what the future holds for him and his son, this adventure on the Immortal Highway, simultaneously treacherous and thrilling, illuminates a greater truth about love, family and grief.
Interview with Jon Magidsohn
What inspired you to write your memoir?
I’d never intended for this to be a complete memoir. When my wife died I wasn’t a writer and, aside from keeping a journal during the road trip, I’d never expressed myself using prose before. One day, many months later, I was thinking about Sue’s final days in the hospital and what that moment meant to me and decided to write down her last words. That started a process that ended years later during my creative writing MA where I completed the first draft of the memoir.
During the writing process I tried to discover what my intention was for sharing this story. Was it completely a cathartic exercise or was there something I thought people could learn from my experience? The answer, I think, is somewhere in the middle. We learn about ourselves by participating in the lives of others. As other memoirists have touched me so, I hope, can I return the favour. By simply stating, ‘This is what I did because it could be done,’ perhaps it will speak to some people. Maybe that’s enough.
Whose writing do you look to for inspiration?
I get inspired by other writers who feel compelled, like I do, to share stories about themselves without apology or any sugar-coating; and who understand that reflecting upon significant (or even seemingly insignificant) moments from their lives broadens the human experience. I’m inspired by the writers who have endured the personal struggle to find the right words that adequately express what it is they’ve experienced and who use the craft of writing to their benefit; those writers who tell their story as a vehicle for exploring the value within it. Most of these writers are not famous or widely read, but are featured online in blogs or journals that publish and promote short-form memoir like Hippocampus, Big Truths and Full Grown People.
What does London mean to you?
London is my home. When I moved there from Toronto in 2005 it was to follow love and to make a new beginning for my son and me. The walls of my Toronto home, as well as the more figurative walls in the city, became too claustrophobic for me to see a future. To me, London represents new life, progress, future and endless possibilities. Like the city itself, constantly evolving and improving itself, I have become a part of London and this process.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
When I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing, which doesn’t mean I’m prolific. It just means I’m always formulating ideas and trying to find meaning in my thoughts with a view to writing them down. And I can do this while I’m doing other things like listening to music, watching movies, playing or watching sports (Maple Leafs, Arsenal, Bengaluru FC), reading, walking my son to the school bus, travelling, exploring, meeting friends, doing the washing or shopping for vegetables. And Scrabble. Lots and lots of Scrabble.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I will be donating a portion of ebook sales to the Susan Westmoreland Legacy Fund for Cancer in Pregnancy Research, an initiative I started in association with Motherisk and the Sick Kids Foundation. Motherisk focuses on medical research as it applies primarily to pregnant and nursing women. Since 2004, the Legacy Fund and Motherisk have worked together on a study toward determining the long-term effects of cancer drugs on the foetus. For the latest reports visit www.motherisk.org.
Originally from Toronto, Jon has an MA in Creative Nonfiction and has been featured in The Guardian, Bangalore Mirror, Brevity, Hippocampus and Full Grown People. He’s written about fatherhood for Dadzclub, the Good Men Project and Today’s Parent magazine, and he maintains three blogs. He’s been an actor, singer, waiter, upholsterer, sales-rep, handyman and dad. Jon and his family live in London – having also spent time in Bangalore – where he writes, edits and teaches creative writing.