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Down to This

Squalor and Splendour in a Big-City Shantytown

Down to This by Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall
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For some young men, climbing Everest or sailing solo into polar seas isn’t the biggest risk in the world. Instead it is venturing alone into the deepest urban jungle, where human nature is the dangerous, incomprehensible and sometimes wildly uplifting force that tests not only your ability to survive but also your own humanity.

One cold November day, Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall heads out on just such a quest. He packs up a new tent, some clothes, his notebooks and a pen and goes to live in Tent City, twenty-seven lawless acres where the largest hobo town on the continent squats in the scandalized shadow of Canada’s largest city. The rules he sets for himself are simple: no access to money, family or friends, except what he can find from that day on. He’ll do whatever people in Tent City do to get by, be whatever bum, wino, beggar, hustler, criminal, junkie or con man he chooses to be on any given day.

When he arrives, he finds a dump full of the castaways of the last millennium, human and otherwise. On the edge of the world, yet somehow smack in the middle of it all, fugitives, drug addicts, prostitutes, dealers and ex-cons have created an anarchic society, where the rules are made up nightly and your life depends on knowing them. Not only does Bishop-Stall manage to survive until the bulldozers come, but against all odds his own heart and spirit slowly mend. An astonishing account of birth, suicide, brawls, binges, tears, crazed laughter, good and bad intentions, fiendish charity and the sudden eloquence and generosity of broken souls, Down to This is Bishop-Stall’s iridescent love song to a lost city like no other.

From the Hardcover edition.
Random House of Canada; June 2010
ISBN 9780307368492
Read online, or download in secure EPUB
Title: Down to This
Author: Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall
  • News
Down to This: A Year Living with the Homeless - Sydney Morning Herald
Thu, 18 Jan 2007 22:16:03 -0800
Sydney Morning HeraldDown to This: A Year Living with the HomelessSydney Morning Herald... back to the slums. Now we have Down ...
Bishop-Stall finds fictional voice - Toronto Star
Thu, 29 Apr 2010 21:15:23 -0700
Toronto StarBishop-Stall finds fictional voiceToronto StarShaughnessy Bishop-Stall, author of the much-lauded 2004 memoir Down ...
Haven for Toronto children on chopping block - Toronto Star
Tue, 17 Jan 2012 09:03:23 -0800
Toronto StarHaven for Toronto children on chopping blockToronto Star... but has, for 100 years, embodied the generous smiling ...