Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Stanley Park - Timothy Taylor

The Basics: Stanley Park, Timothy Taylor, 2001, 423 pages, hard cover, nominated for Canada Reads 2007

How I found it: I had read this book before (recommended by Jess I think) but I read it again since I wanted to read all of the Canada Reads books this year and evaluate them for myself.

What's it about?: A struggling youngish chef tries to manage his doomed restaurant, a new girlfriend, and a complicated relationship with his father. Jeremy, the protagonist, has to make tough decisions about whether to sell out or not, whether to tell his girlfriend, his father, and his sous chef about his financial difficulties and what to do about his father's increasingly participatory forms of anthropological study. Jeremy's dad, "The Professor" is studying homeless people living in Vancouver's Stanley Park, but he has begun living among them and losing touch with academia and reality.

Did I like it?: I remember enjoying this book a bit more the first time. This time around it seemed a little pulpy. I think part of the problem is that I didn't identify with Chef Jeremy. He kept all of his problems bottled up inside and didn't tell anyone about them. While that makes a great premise for a book (see Little White Lies), it doesn't make for a likable character in my opinion. I didn't think the character development was very good since I was left wondering why Jeremy had made some of the decisions he did. All in all, an interesting book, but definitely not deserving of the Canada Reads title.

Will you like it?: Despite my criticisms of this book, it is a good one and is worth reading. I just don't think it is spectacular enough to be the one book that Canadians should read. It's a good story and if love food and Vancouver, you will appreciate the small roles both of those factors play.

But don't take my word for it: The usual collection of positive blurbs from, lots of glowing reader reviews, a review from Book Reporter, one from the foodie blog VanEats, an interesting take from the Book Mine Set blog, and an interview with the author from CBC's Words at Large.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the mention. I obviously didn't care for the book, but I've enjoyed hearing others' impressions. Yours wasn't quite as glowing as Jim Cuddy's, but it was just as interesting to read. One of the things I like best about Canada Reads is how it reminds us how much a reader brings to a book. It's such a give and take between the author and reader.

    Speaking of Canada Reads, I'm on a (futile?) mission to get an average Canadian on next years show (namely me!). If you're interested in reading about it or even showing some support, you can check out this post.