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Fifteen Thousand Pieces

Fifteen Thousand Pieces

By Gina Leola Woolsey

On Wednesday, September 2nd, 1998, an international flight carrying 229 souls crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Nova Scotia. There were no survivors. By Friday, Sept 4th, thousands of dismembered body parts had come through Dr. John Butt's makeshift morgue in Hangar B at the Shearwater military base. The Chief Medical Examiner faced the most challenging and grisly task of his career. Five years prior to the plane crash, John had lost his prestigious job as Alberta’s Chief Medical Examiner. After 14 years of marriage, John began to think of himself as gay, but remained closeted professionally. Then, after serving a handful of years as Nova Scotia's Chief Medical Examiner, the devastating crash in Nova Scotia cracked his carefully constructed façade. Fifteen Thousand Pieces explores one man's journey to accept his true nature and find his place in the world. Chapters alternate between the fast-paced story of the crash, and the history of the man in the making. It is both fast-paced and introspective; gruesome and touching. Ultimately, it is the story of how death teaches us to live.


MiroLand (Memoir and Biography)


300 pages |

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Gina Woolsey's Fifteen Thousand Pieces seamlessly weaves together the story of John Butt's capstone career moment — as the Nova Scotia medical examiner overseeing the recovery and identification of the 229 souls who died in the September 1998 crash of Swissair Flight 111 — with the convoluted, often confusing personal journey that brought him to that moment. The John Butt who emerges from these pages is a professionally precise, personally struggling, passionate, compassionate, cantankerous walking contradiction, a fascinating man in full — a tribute to Woolsey's superb skills as a writer and storyteller.

Stephen Kimber

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About the author

CBC Award-winning author Gina Leola Woolsey tugs at your heartstrings with written portraits of people striving to find love, self-acceptance, and belonging in an ever changing world. She left her corporate career mid-life to pursue an education in creative writing, earning a BFA from the University of British Columbia and an MFA from the University of King’s College. She lives wherever the narrative takes her. Currently, her time is split between small-town Alberta, downtown Montreal, and her hometown of Vancouver.