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Saturday February 28, 2009 in Books
Since the debut of Garry Thomas Morse’s first collection deemed “experimental fiction,” Death in Vancouver has drawn fervid enthusiasm from many West Coast writers and artists. Set in Vancouver, B.C., this gathering of stories superimposes aspects of literary classics on local urban space to express increasing dissonance and alienation in the groaning “necropolis” that is the contemporary global city.
“One Helen” is a woman subject to poetic idealization who reveals her own interior monologue on Bloomsday in “Another Helen” in this two-part romantic comedy where love may arrive too late. In “Nailed,” an incident from The Book of Judges becomes zagadka without razgadka, or one of Gogol’s riddles without resolution. “Salt Chip Boy” presents homogenized global jargon from an Orwellian vision of a future Vancouver where denizens controlled by implanted desiccants enter virtual worlds to enjoy vintage language and scenarios. In “Two Scoops,” an attractive reporter investigates a government-funded project that involves supermarket products and sexual hallucinations. In “The Book,” a Dostoyevskian drunkard contemplates Mallarmé’s suggestion that everything exists to end up in a book while en route to “the stone that drives men mad” as described in Pauline Johnson’s Legends of Vancouver. “Dry Gray,” who takes his name from a burger chain receipt while trying to stay sober, grapples with lingering questions from an Asperger’s test.
These stories culminate in the title novella, a restatement of Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice in which a retired ballet dancer called Padam falls under the spell of a young man in the lounge of the Istoria (fictional double to the Sylvia Hotel). When a hotel renovation leads Padam to believe that cosmetic injections will resolve his unrequited passion, he finds himself suddenly face to face with an unslaked desire for historical vengeance in the beak of a First Nations bird monster.
ISBN 13: 9780889226074 | ISBN 10: 889226075
5.5 W x 8.5 H x 0.75 D inches | 320 pages
$19.95 CAN / $19.95 US
| Fiction | Bisac: FIC019000
QUOTES OF NOTE
“Admirers of James Joyce, Malcolm Lowry, and Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice will be intrigued by Garry Thomas Morse’s strong collection of stories entitled Death in Vancouver. Though often exhibiting echoes of the great masters, these stories are certainly new, anchored solidly in the author’s West Coast world. In the title story, especially, the author has built an original tale vibrating with strong reverberations of the Mann novella and making use of locations that found their way into Lowry’s writing. Despite its roots in giant works of the past century it reads as authentically new, thanks in part to that obviously contemporary narrating ‘street voice’ — combined with subtle First Nations references. It is a reminder that we all live in a world that has been created by those who came before us and who are, in some way, still with us.”
— Jack Hodgins
“Garry Thomas Morse is an extraordinarily talented writer, and his Death in Vancouver is nothing less than a stunning accomplishment. It is work of prodigious erudition and imaginative daring, and it brings vividly to life (and death) the entangled narratives and sonantic richness of the global city.”
— David Chariandy
–“Death in Vancouver_, a selection of short prose bits with crazy compelling characters, tight, precise and breathtaking language and imagery and opera! I am enthralled by its originality. His writing reminds me of John Lavery’s work; they both are adept at linguistic "acrobatics" and are skilled in painting memorable and unusual characters.”
— Amanda Earl
“In Death in Vancouver, the story ‘Salt Chip Boy’ is very fine and intriguing, with the severe Baudrillard disconnect between mind and body, the cyber push in the direction of William Gibson and beyond, the cheeky use of ‘K’ which holds a whiff of Kafka, and the language which makes one feel as if they’ve stumbled (with satisfaction) into times far hence.”
— M.A.C. Farrant
About the ContributorsGarry Thomas Morse
Garry Thomas Morse’s poetry books include Transversals for Orpheus, Streams, After Jack, Discovery Passages (finalist for the Governor General’s Award for Poetry and the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize), Prairie Harbour, and Safety Sand. Morse’s books of fiction include his collection Death in Vancouver, and the three books in The Chaos! Quincunx series, Minor Episodes / Major Ruckus (2013 ReLit Award finalist), Rogue Cells / Carbon Harbour (2014 ReLit Award finalist), and Minor Expectations, all published by Talonbooks.
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts; the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF); and the Province of British Columbia through the British Columbia Arts Council for our publishing activities.