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Cabbagetown: A Novel Paperback – Aug 19 2002

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 424 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Ryerson; 1 edition (Aug. 19 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0070915520
  • ISBN-13: 978-0070915527
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.3 x 21.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 544 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #27,417 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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Had Hugh MacLennan been an anarcho-syndicalist and a D.H. Lawrence devotee, he might have written books like Cabbagetown, a voluminous tale of depression-era Canada that's arguably Hugh Garner's finest novel. First published in a bowdlerized edition in 1950, Cabbagetown is one of the few Canadian novels published before 1960 that is genuinely frank about sex and politics, and as a result, it's one of the few literary artifacts of its time to dismantle the myth of Toronto the Good.

Set in Toronto's east-end Cabbagetown neighbourhood ("the largest Anglo-Saxon slum in North America," not the comfortable middle-class enclave it has since become), Garner's novel begins on the eve of the Great Depression, with his teenage characters leaving school, finding paltry jobs, and attending half-innocent kissing parties at their more privileged friends' homes. The effects of the stock market collapse slowly begin to crush Cabbagetown's paltry economy, and Garner's characters--the earnestly struggling Ken Tilling and the sometime love of his life Myrla Patson most prominent among them--do what they can to survive. Some turn to crime, prostitution, or wage slavery and others ride the rails, while one cynical social climber becomes a crypto-fascist and government clerk.

Cabbagetown is chiefly notable as an alternative social history of Toronto. There's nothing puritanical about Garner's novel; in this Old Ontario, people cruise for sex in city parks, drink themselves to death, and lie, cheat, cuss, and steal for all they're worth. It's also an Ontario rife with political struggle: in one of the novel's most disturbing scenes, a gang of fascist youths attacks a party of picnicking Jews at Cherry Beach; later, Ken Tilling finds his way into the Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War. As literary art, Cabbagetown is decidedly second-tier. Readers who have yet to read Norman Levine's (By a Frozen River or Canada Made Me) shouldn't turn to Garner just yet. Nonetheless, its brutal honesty makes it a consistently rewarding novel, and far more than a mere historical curiosity. --Jack Illingworth

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"...as important and revealing as The Grapes of Wrath." -- Globe and Mail

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Ok this was a very hard book to find, If you ever lived in Cabbagetown(located in a hard area of Toronto. I lived there when I was first married. We had the Salvation Army hostel across the street with the local colorful men congregated every night for a bed. This book really spells it out what that neighborhood was like.
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Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed this book, but reading it at 23 was a small challenge. I didn't know if it was the author, the time, or the region, but I found there were many words that I just didn't know. Some could be deciphered by reading the sentence or paragraph, others I wrote down and looked up; even that was enjoyable. I had done a research paper on Cabbagetown, but really enjoyed a novel written by someone who lived it and loved it.
Wonderful story, cool history, great writing.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought his book for my brother. We both grew up in Cabbagetown. He's a senior now and absolutely LOVED this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I think this is a must read for those wanting to understand the history and social science of Toronto.
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By A Customer on Sept. 8 2002
Format: Paperback
Cabbagetown is still as relevant today as when it was written in 1950. With the same same econmic and cultural pressures in play today as during the Depression it is well worth the read.
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