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Stanley Park [Paperback]

Timothy Taylor
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Dec 11 2001
A young chef who revels in local bounty, a long-ago murder that remains unsolved, the homeless of Stanley Park, a smooth-talking businessman named Dante — these are the ingredients of Timothy Taylor's stunning debut novel — Kitchen Confidential meets The Edible Woman.

Trained in France, Jeremy Papier, the young Vancouver chef, is becoming known for his unpretentious dishes that highlight fresh, local ingredients. His restaurant, The Monkey's Paw Bistro, while struggling financially, is attracting the attention of local foodies, and is not going unnoticed by Dante Beale, owner of a successful coffeehouse chain, Dante's Inferno. Meanwhile, Jeremy's father, an eccentric anthropologist, has moved into Stanley Park to better acquaint himself with the homeless and their daily struggles for food, shelter and company. Jeremy's father also has a strange fascination for a years-old unsolved murder case, known as "The Babes in the Wood" and asks Jeremy to help him research it.

Dante is dying to get his hands on The Monkey's Paw. When Jeremy's elaborate financial kite begins to fall, he is forced to sell to Dante and become his employee. The restaurant is closed for renovations, Inferno style. Jeremy plans a menu for opening night that he intends to be the greatest culinary statement he's ever made, one that unites the homeless with high foody society in a paparazzi-covered celebration of "local splendour."

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Product Description

From Amazon

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.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun reading Oct. 30 2006
Format:Paperback
This was a good book to read. It blurs that line between fact and fiction just enough that you are, at times left scratching your head trying to determine what's real and what isn't. Plus, for those of you who live in the Vancouver area, there are enough references to local landmarks that you'll feel right at home. Throw in a dash of mystery and excitement, and you have the makings of a great book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Anyone interested in cooking should read this book. The back-of-house descriptions are interesting in the same way as 'Kitchen Confidential'. The bonus is that there is a murder mystery embedded in this book. The Bloods and Crips thing is very interesting, as is the startup of a big-time gourmet resturant.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A surprising story Dec 13 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book is definitely used and in fair to above fair in terms of condition. It is a good story, though, and I have read it some years ago and enjoyed it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A début dish with gusto, nicely plated... July 5 2009
By Schmadrian TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
...but some of its elements fiddle around a bit too much with the old taste buds.

The bulk of Taylor's first effort is assured, rich, with touches of flair you should expect from a rookie. He is, as I am wont to say, a writer's writer through about 80% of the book. You know you're in the hands of someone who sets his heights high, and for the most part, attains these altitudes. Indeed, it's a joy to be along for the journey.

However, at several points, he goes entirely off the rails, or, to maintain the culinary theme, mixes up his courses, gets distracted with ingredients he probably should have left on the shelf, and serves up something tepid.

I was not satisfied with how he intertwined the narrative threads. I didn't like the elements that were left unresolved. And mostly, I thought the pronounced style change at the novel's conclusion was...well...tepid.

I've given it such a high mark mostly because I appreciated his verve, his deft touch, and the fact that he made me want to consume what he had been concocting.

This is a far better book than his sophomore effort, and makes me look forward all the more to his third publication.

Can I have the cheque, please...?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It Never Rains In Stanley Park Sept. 8 2009
Format:Paperback
Stanley Park has gotten a great deal of praise for it's social relevance and writing. I'm not going to add to that. Frankly it strikes me as the work of a short story author who isn't comfortable writing in novel length. There's cleverness here, no question. His first restaurant, "The Monkey's Paw" for example is what he's wished for, but has turned into a curse. But there's also a failure to follow through on plot elements, a tendency to pad scenes with excerpts from the menus, and a distinct tinge of self-righteous arrogance. And frankly while the description of the financial woes of a failing restauranteur are excellent, the look at homelessness struck me as, at best superficial and the discussion of the underpinnings of the protagonists local food ideology wasn't much deeper.
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Format:Paperback
This first book should not only appeal to Canadian fiction readers, but thoughtful and socially-conscious North American students worried about the impact of the globalizing political economy upon everyday life in advanced industrial and over-industrialized societies like the United States and Canada as well. The settings of downtown Vancouver and Stanley Park provide the lived contexts for critically examining local-global dynamics influencing urban development and the political economy of food while compelling us to see what the latest twists and turns of globalizing capitalism are doing to us, our bodies, social relationships, and our relations with nature mediated through food.

Young Jeremy Papier the aspiring chef and his father the "participatory anthropologist" serve as sure and steady guides into how the globalizing tendencies in economic spheres are reaching down into locales of place, people, and heritage and creating opportunities for enormous wealth for some and spectacular (as in spectacle) new consumption habits in local spaces for corporations like Dante's Inferno International (read: Starbucks?) to suck up local capital in exchange for homogenized products like overpriced coffee, second-rate pastry, and branded ambience. Simultaneously, it generates an international "fooderati" that chases after the next "new" things to tantalize their taste buds through advertising slogans and aesthetically termed food dishes that define and socially construct what they think they are eating.
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