Compass

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Pub Date 27 Sep 2022 | Archive Date 15 Oct 2022

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Description

We can’t all be heroes. Some try and succeed. Others posture and pretend. And a few—just a few—set off on their hero’s quest only to discover that failure was within them all along.

Compass recounts the adventures of a man who, after traveling the world shilling stories for a major geographic magazine about historic expeditions and explorers, sets out on an adventure of his own—an ill-advised and poorly planned trip to the Arctic floe edge under the disorienting twenty-four-hour summer sun. When the ice breaks and his guide disappears, the narrator ends up alone and adrift in the hostile northern sea. He draws on his knowledge of historic expeditions to craft his own, inept, attempt at survival. As time passes and he becomes increasingly disoriented, his obsession with Sedna, the Inuit goddess of the sea, becomes terrifyingly real.

Part Life of Pi, part Into the Wild, Compass draws heavily on true historical adventures, Inuit mythology, and its Arctic setting. The narrator, a self-aware buffoon who remains nameless throughout, is both remarkably well-informed and entirely useless. He knows just enough to steer himself into the path of disaster—repeatedly, often comically, and ultimately tragically.

We can’t all be heroes. Some try and succeed. Others posture and pretend. And a few—just a few—set off on their hero’s quest only to discover that failure was within them all along.

Compass recounts...


Advance Praise

"A darkly comedic tale, superbly told, Compass is a tour-de-force debut from an author whose name we should all remember. This is storytelling at its finest, featuring shape-shifting Arctic landscapes, a wryly laconic Inuit guide, an undersea sorceress, hockey stick harpoons, a chorus of seals and a disturbing finale. I read it wrapped in warm blankets, both grateful and envious at not having to face the same travails as the novel's hapless narrator."

-- Will Ferguson, Leacock Medal winner, Author of The Finder, Road Trip Rwanda, 419, and more.

"I could not put down Murray Lee's Compass. It's not only that it is a highly literate, intelligent novel or that the story is riveting, but also the unstrained, steady humor, the easy erudition about the history of and conditions in the high Arctic and about survival there when lost that combine to make it such a compelling read. But most remarkable is the stunningly good writing, an effortless flow of language, word choices of startling precision and beauty. I thought of Salman Rushdie's prose, that gush of language that never misses, the fearless use of fantasy elaborating on and acting as a corrective to the hero's self-importance. Such a rare gift Lee has, a writer we'll be hearing of. Compass is a joy."

-- Sharon Butala, Author of This Strange Visible Air: Essays on Aging and the Writing Life (2021) and Season of Fury and Wonder: Short Stories (2020)

"Murray Lee's debut novel Compass is a meditation on hubris that takes the reader to the blinding white light of the Arctic and the limits of a southern adventurer's endurance."

-- Monica Kidd, author of Chance Encounters with Wild Animals

“A powerful and visceral exploration of one man’s journey to the physical and psychological edge. Compass fuses the solitary struggle of The Martian, the magical realism of Life of Pi, and the twisted psychology of Heart of Darkness, layered on a stark northern landscape."

-- Arun Lakra, author of Sequence and winner of the Woodward Newman Drama Prize and the Praxis Screenplay Competition.

Murray Lee’s Compass flips the old school hagiographies of European explorers lost in the High Arctic, and in their place offers up a hallucinatory, perilous voyage to The Edge, narrated by a less-than-stable outsider with a suitcase full of stories of long-dead adventurers and a penchant for comic asides."

-- Brian Preston, author of Pot Planet

"A darkly comedic tale, superbly told, Compass is a tour-de-force debut from an author whose name we should all remember. This is storytelling at its finest, featuring shape-shifting Arctic...


Marketing Plan

Publishers Weekly advertising; social media campaigns, Goodreads advertising, TV and radio

Publishers Weekly advertising; social media campaigns, Goodreads advertising, TV and radio


Available Editions

EDITION Paperback
ISBN 9780997913781
PRICE 17.95

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Featured Reviews

Compass combines a lot of my favourite themes — Far North nature writing, Indigenous mythology, a person being pushed to the limits of survival and sanity — and as a medical doctor who has served as a fly-in physician for a traditional Inuit community on the Arctic Circle for the past fifteen years, author Murray Lee is well-placed to tell this outsider tale of an arrogant adventurer who mistakenly believes that the North has been tamed since the dangerous heydays of polar exploration. From early on we know that some tragedy will befall this character (dubbed “Guy” by his Inuit hosts and otherwise unnamed) — so, while a thriller, the plot is less about what ultimately happens than what leads up to it — and by making Guy essentially unlikeable and unself-aware, Lee sets up a situation that gives the reader a delicious feeling of schadenfreude. I liked everything about this — Compass certainly doesn’t feel like a debut novel — and I hope that for a small release it gets a big reception.

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