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Verbatim: A Novel [Hardcover]

Jeff Bursey
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
List Price: CDN$ 29.95
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Book Description

Sept. 1 2010
Verbatim: a Novel is a blackly humorous exposé of parliamentary practice in an unnamed Atlantic province. The dirty tricks, vicious insults, and inept parliamentary procedures of the politicians are recorded by a motley crew of Hansard employees.

But when the Hansard bureaucrats begin to emulate their political masters, the parliamentary system's supposed dignity is further stripped away. Jeff Bursey reveals in both high and low humour how chaotic and mean-spirited the rules behind the game of politics are, and how political virtue corrupts everyone.

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Review

"Jeff Bursey has written a clever, highly innovative and highly readable novel. The satire is sharp, sometimes hilarious, the language perfectly suited to the subject - Mr. Bursey has a pitch perfect ear." -Wayne Johnston

". . . a tour de force of verbal dexterity that wields irony so deftly that the book, despite its intimidating scale, both challenges and delights." - Dalkey Archive Press

"[Bursey] gets right down to political brass tacks in his eccentric, sometimes ingenious debut novel." -; Winnipeg Free Press

". . . an innovative and insightful narrative that is an uproarious read. . . " -Arts East

"Let the record also show that this is probably about the funniest intelligent book on politics you can get your hands on these days." -; American Book Review

". . . if politics is your thing, and if you have a taste for satire, then this would be just an ideal read. . . " -Tales from the Reading Room

From the Back Cover

Verbatim: a Novel is a blackly humorous expos of parliamentary practice in an unnamed Atlantic province. The dirty tricks, vicious insults, and inept parliamentary procedures of the politicians are recorded by a motley crew of Hansard employees. But when the Hansard bureaucrats begin to emulate their political masters, the parliamentary system’s supposed dignity is further stripped away. Jeff Bursey reveals in both high and low humour how chaotic and mean—spirited the rules behind the game of politics are, and how political ’virtue’ corrupts everyone.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Verbatim: A Novel Nov. 14 2012
Format:Hardcover
Verbatim: A Novel is an excellent read for anyone interested in the parliamentary process and all the politics that comes with it, or just wants a different reading experience. The majority of the story is written like a Hansard publication but still manages to get in excellent description, great jibes and believable characters. Just talking about it makes me want to read it again.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chaos & Night: A Comedy April 6 2014
By Marek Waldorf - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As exhaustive an inventory of political pettifoggery as anybody in his or her right mind could hope for, Jeff Bursey’s Verbatim perches on my shelf between ingenious literary feat & obsessive-compulsive art object. The book is lovingly produced by Enfield & Wizenty, a scrupulously faked record of legislative proceedings in an unnamed Atlantic province. With nothing but transcripts & email exchanges, Bursey builds his book from the sentence up, applying the Gaddis ear for speech-as-broken to a project whose modesty seems inextricable from the insane rigors of its ambitions—closer in spirit to the work of, say, Raymond Materson than to a GANist. There is no plot to speak of, no messages. No heroism, certainly. The inaptitudes & excoriations of the hard-to-distinguish Social Progressive (government) and Alliance (opposition) parties are conveyed with a meticulous slyness befitting a fakebook whose humor has to appear inadvertent (boobishness predominates) when not the product of labored aggression & lol insult. Bursey’s got a light touch. Dada-worthy malaprops benefit from being so conservatively sprinkled throughout:

“However, while the impossible may happen, the improbable can’t occur.”

Verbatim’s very funny even if, after a time, the sense of vacuum presses in—the only “documented” force in the universe outside these unleavened parliamentary chambers being the emendations and oversights of the equally bickersome Hansard transcription service—& starts to unsettle. In the rarefied catalog of fictionalized documentaries/transcriptions, it stands apart for its stubborn provincialism, and the strangeness of its achievement, which, like its tongue-tied representatives, lies in the refusal to mean anything more than what is being so expertly, relentlessly faked.

It also reminds me somehow of “The Battle of the Books.”

Marek Waldorf
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Political Satire Feb. 20 2013
By Michael Goodine - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Jeff Bursey is a rebel for having written a novel with so much conflict. In Verbatim: A Novel, Bursey uses many types of conflict to provide social commentary on governance and to illustrate the failure of politics via politicians.

This debut novel, set in an unnamed province, is not easy to read. It is presented in two ways, through Hansard (the official transcripts of debates in parliament in Canada) and emails.

This book is a post modern novel and a political satire. There is no narrator, but dozens of characters- dozens of politicians talking, back-biting, fighting and relentlessly battling with one another over a variety of prescient issues. It is through these garrulous sections where the satire darkly gleams. Bursey, who has worked for Atlantic Hansards for years, use of the word 'inaudible' in the transcripts to mark the absence of information is a brilliantly comic imagination-creating exercise. Though humorous, this novel will also evoke emotions in any reader ever faced with the odiousness of office politics. In the emails, where Bursey examines the abuse of power and human rights in an office, readers will cringe with empathy and rally for SV, the character who most closely resembles a narrator. Bursey excels at creating politicians and bureaucrats so realistic and intelligently tackles so many issues any person interested in politics, especially politicians and students of political science, will be not only be entertained by reading this novel, but educated as well.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious, Detailed Political Foray Dec 20 2010
By Evan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Fans of Christopher Wunderlee or William Gaddis will enjoy Bursey's fictionalized account of a House of Commons governing an unnamed Atlantic province. Like Gaddis' technique in "A Frolic of His Own", the novel is the official record of legislative proceedings by a group called Hansard, which, as with Gaddis' using legal briefs and pronouncements, allows Bursey to satirize parliamentary politics with sharp wit and clever juxtaposition. Here, a rightwing party merges with/squares off with a leftwing party, but not for lofty social issues or even a political agenda that reflects their constituents' objectives, but for grossly human personal gain and power. Amid a backdrop of serious problems that include poverty, environmental catastrophes, a recession, failing healthcare, and earmarked projects causing more harm than good, we have financial corruption, sex scandals, fraud, even violence - none of which seems to affect the self-involved politicians out for personal gain and pet grudges.
Well worth the dense prose, intricate minutiae and the very well-crafted bureaucratic memoranda and correspondence, "Verbatim' layers on details as the employees from Hansard begin to act more like the politicians they are recording (picking fights, personal attacks, becoming more involved with personal success than their project, etc.), slowly succumbing to the very same pettiness that they witness from the politicians - revealing just how power corrupts.
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