Aspiring food artiste Jeremy Papier, in Timothy Taylor's debut novel, Stanley Park
, attempts to juggle the finances of his fledgling eatery, The Monkey's Paw, and his conflicted feelings about his attractive sous-chef. Meanwhile, on the other side of downtown Vancouver, his anthropologist father camps out in Stanley Park to study a group of homeless men. Impending financial ruin drives Jeremy into the clutches of an evil coffee magnate while his father delves deeper into the indigent lifestyle, probing the mystery of two dead children once found in the park as well as his failed marriage to Jeremy's mother. A tragicomic denouement takes the characters back to their human roots as hunter-gatherers in the 21st century.
The big idea in Stanley Park is that global corporate culture threatens the local connections that sustain us. Only the outcasts in Stanley Park retain these connections, and one of them imparts to Jeremy the secret of trapping a swan: "'Stinky box does it,' Caruzo informed, scratching himself. 'Stinky box is all.'" He retrieves a discarded hot dog shipping box and explains the technique: "'I distract him.' Caruzo said. 'You kill him. Distract. Kill.'" Though our hero cannot bring himself to dispatch the bird, he understands the basic link with nature. Stanley Park isn't Crime and Punishment and doesn't pretend to be, even if the vocabulary is sometimes a little pretentious. Taylor, who won the 2000 Journey Prize for his short fiction, tells a good story, creating plausible characters for this coming-of-age narrative and making a good start to a novelistic career. --Robyn Gillam
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
What's local in a world that is becoming one global monoculture? That's the question confronting Jeremy Papier, the Vancouver chef at the center of Taylor's comic debut novel. Jeremy divides chefs into two types: the transnational Crips, who mix, say, Chilean farm-bred salmon and kimchi, without compunction; and Bloods, who are purists, stubbornly local in their food choices. Along with his friend Jules Capelli, another Blood, Jeremy runs the Monkey's Paw Bistro, making meals from mostly local ingredients for local foodies. Storm clouds lie on the horizon, however. Jeremy is deep in debt. To get by, he scams some $2,000 with the aid of Benny, a customer-turned-girlfriend. The scam backfires, and Jeremy has to turn to Dante Beale, an old family friend and the owner of a national chain of coffee houses, for money. Dante redesigns the bistro, turning it into a potential Crip palace. Jules is fired. Jeremy, under contract, remains. Turning for solace to his father, an anthropologist whose major project is living with the homeless in Stanley Park, Jeremy is reluctantly drawn into his father's work and the investigation of a decades-old mystery involving two children killed in the park. Along the way, he becomes fascinated by cooking for the homeless, and the joys of preparing squirrel, raccoon and starlings carry him into a glorious prank, which he plays at the opening of Beale's redesigned bistro. Taylor has written a sort of cook's version of the anti-WTO protests, striking a heartfelt and entertaining blow against conformity.
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