Stanley Park Paperback – Dec 11 2001
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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 the Hardcover edition.
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.
Top Customer Reviews
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...?
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.Read more ›
He's thrown in an unsolved murder of two young children for good measure, and made only the slightest attempt to tie it all together.
There are good scenes, it's about food (though the foodie stuff didn't ring very true to me, it did to a chef friend of mine, so there you have it), it's about bucking the establishment, it's about compassion.
But it's also about nothing, and so it took me a long time to read it because I never really got into it, and didn't really enjoy it. So yes.
If you are one of those who can let yor mind meander through the pages of a novel, then this is a novel for you.
Most recent customer reviews
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.Published on Dec 13 2013 by shelley gorman
Stanley Park has gotten a great deal of praise for it's social relevance and writing. I'm not going to add to that. Read morePublished on Sept. 8 2009 by David Johnston
Being from Vancouver, this book was great just to be able to read a novel set in the city I grew up. It was entertaining and a little surprising sometimes. Read morePublished on Feb. 12 2009 by Keep it simple
This was a deep, joyous, wonderful read ... I loved that it was based loosely on a real event and really enjoyed the whole "foodie" aspect to it. Read more