The Sleeping Car Porter by Suzette Mayr

The Sleeping Car Porter

by Suzette Mayr

When a mudslide strands a train, Baxter, a queer Black sleeping car porter, must contend with the perils of white passengers, ghosts, and his secret love affair

The Sleeping Car Porter brings to life an important part of Black history in North America, from the perspective of a queer man living in a culture that renders him invisible in two ways. Affecting, imaginative, and visceral enough that you’ll feel the rocking of the train, The Sleeping Car Porter is a stunning accomplishment.

Baxter’s name isn’t George. But it’s 1929, and Baxter is lucky enough, as a Black man, to have a job as a sleeping car porter on a train that crisscrosses the country. So when the passengers call him George, he has to just smile and nod and act invisible. What he really wants is to go to dentistry school, but he’ll have to save up a lot of nickel and dime tips to get there, so he puts up with “George.”

On this particular trip out west, the passengers are more unruly than usual, especially when the train is stalled for two extra days; their secrets start to leak out and blur with the sleep-deprivation hallucinations Baxter is having. When he finds a naughty postcard of two queer men, Baxter’s memories and longings are reawakened; keeping it puts his job in peril, but he can’t part with the postcard or his thoughts of Edwin Drew, Porter Instructor.

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About the Author

Suzette Mayr

Suzette Mayr is the author of five novels including her most recent, Dr. Edith Vane and the Hares of Crawley Hall. Her fourth novel, Monoceros, won the ReLit Award and the City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize, was long-listed for the 2011 Giller Prize, nominated for a Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Fiction and the Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction, and included on The Globe and Mail’s 100 Best Books of 2011. Her first novel, Moon Honey, was shortlisted for the Writers Guild of Alberta Best First Book and Best Novel prizes. The Widows, her second novel, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize for Best Book in the Canadian-Caribbean region. Mayr is past president of the Writers' Guild of Alberta and teaches creative writing in the English Department at the University of Calgary where she was the 2002-2003 Markin-Flanagan writer-in-residence.