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2.5 of 5
3 ratings
rated!
rated!
list price: $14.95
edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback
category: Fiction
published: Sep 2010
ISBN:9780307400925
publisher: Knopf Canada
imprint: Vintage Canada

Stanley Park

by Timothy Taylor

reviews: 1
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literary
2.5 of 5
3 ratings
rated!
rated!
list price: $14.95
edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback
category: Fiction
published: Sep 2010
ISBN:9780307400925
publisher: Knopf Canada
imprint: Vintage Canada
Description

A young chef who revels in local bounty, a long-ago murder that remains unsolved, the homeless of Stanley Park, a smooth-talking businessman named Dante - these are the ingredients of Timothy Taylor's stunning debut novel - Kitchen Confidential meets The Edible Woman.

Trained in France, Jeremy Papier, the young Vancouver chef, is becoming known for his unpretentious dishes that highlight fresh, local ingredients. His restaurant, The Monkey's Paw Bistro, while struggling financially, is attracting the attention of local foodies, and is not going unnoticed by Dante Beale, owner of a successful coffeehouse chain, Dante's Inferno. Meanwhile, Jeremy's father, an eccentric anthropologist, has moved into Stanley Park to better acquaint himself with the homeless and their daily struggles for food, shelter and company. Jeremy's father also has a strange fascination for a years-old unsolved murder case, known as "The Babes in the Wood" and asks Jeremy to help him research it.Dante is dying to get his hands on The Monkey's Paw. When Jeremy's elaborate financial kite begins to fall, he is forced to sell to Dante and become his employee. The restaurant is closed for renovations, Inferno style. Jeremy plans a menu for opening night that he intends to be the greatest culinary statement he's ever made, one that unites the homeless with high foody society in a paparazzi-covered celebration of "local splendour."

From the Hardcover edition.

Contributor Notes

Timothy Taylor is the Journey-Prize winning author of the short-story collection Silent Cruise. His second novel, Story House, will be published by Knopf Canada in April 2006. He was born in Venezuela and now lives in Vancouver.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Review

“Timothy Taylor writes straight, strong, unadorned prose…. He’s well in command of his material. Writes great dialogue. Early on, he sets his scene, gives us Jeremy’s background, and keeps his story, yes, cooking. Stanley Park is alive with the places and sights, sounds and smells, the psychic character of Vancouver. It thrums with a powerful sense of the city, urban surfaces as well as primal currents. Also food … Taylor is as good as the American novelist Jim Harrison when it comes to writing about textures and tangs, colours and sensations.”
Quill & Quire

Stanley Park is both feat and feast: a smart and enthralling narrative that urgently binds together its twin obsessions with place and food and culminates in a pièce de resistance that proves a triumph both for Chef Jeremy Papier and his creator, Timothy Taylor.”
—Catherine Bush
Stanley Park grabs an audience in a way that augurs a wide readership. [It’s] like Babette’s Feast or Chocolat. They all celebrate a meal that never was, a hope that the right meal can be turned into a Eucharist. Enjoy!”
Vancouver Sun

“[A] vibrant debut novel…Taylor is a fine prose craftsman.”
—Andre Mayer, eye, 29 Mar 2001

“Taylor’s debut offers an inside look at the workings of a high-end restaurant, a cut-throat character in the person of a coffeehouse owner who wants to take it over and an intense sense of location, as the title suggests.”
NOW Magazine, 5 Apr 2001

“[Stanley Park] is a modern morality play with Jeremy Papier’s very soul at stake…Stanley Park is an assured debut that stands well above many first novels. Taylor is a writer of undeniable talent who has proven himself adept at both the long and short form, and whose wave will no doubt reach the shores.”
— Stephen Finucan, Toronto Star, 1 Apr 2001

“Delicious first novel must be savoured. [This] intelligent and leisurely…novel serves up chi-chi restaurants, Blood and Crip sous chefs and exotic culinary dishes, but it is also a pointed comment on the act of creation — whether someone is working toward a soufflé, a movie, a work of art or a romp in the sack…[O]ne thing is clear: the talented Timothy Taylor…is very good at writing about food, on a par with Jim Harrison or Sara Suleri…You’ll never look the same way at a weary chef or the loaded, coded words of a menu in your hands.”
—Mark Anthony Jarman, Globe and Mail, 31 Mar 2001

“Vancouver breathes in Stanley Park, from its architecture and granola culture to its status as an American TV-show haven. It is a cosmopolitan, big city pushing to become an international, economic hub. It is also a natural wonder, with an ocean and a mountain range within spitting distance, a rainforest, and enough red tendencies to elect quite a few NDP governments. Jeremy is at once an élitist and a man of the people. Bravo to Timothy Taylor for capturing this tension so well…This is a poweful début; expect to hear a lot from him.”
—Todd Babiak, Edmonton Journal

“Vancouver writer Timothy Taylor takes a meat cleaver to mystery fiction by packing the novel with backroom culinary politics, a heartwarming tale about a father-son reconciliation and some moralizing on the outrage we should feel about the wastefulness of bourgeois society. What it all simmers down to is a frothy entertainment with a dash of piquancy…it is a well-calculated piece of fiction…with just the right amount of angst and social conscience.”
Montreal Gazette

“A charming first novel…unflaggingly intelligent.”
Maclean’s

“Your mouth waters as you read Timothy Taylor's first novel. Not since Isak Dinesen's Babette's Feast has so lavish a table been set for a reader. If Margaret Atwood's first novel The Edible Woman put you off food, this one will put you back on it…In Stanley Park he does for the restaurant business what John le Carré does for spying; he makes it alluring. And he does for food what Patrick Suskind does for perfume; he makes it exciting…Timothy Taylor has written a novel with a plot to return to, characters to remain with, and themes to think about. The quest for authenticity, for instance, isn't an easy one, either for fictional characters or real people. His style skips along merrily...He also casually slips in some of the most mouth-watering recipes ever sprinkled on the pages of Canadian fiction.”
—J.S. Porter, National Post

From the Hardcover edition.

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Reader Reviews

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Devouring Stanley Park

Taylor’s work is easy to access, rich and free flowing the reader slips and slides through his loving descriptions of haute cuisine, wrapped as lovingly as phyllo pastry in the sights and sounds of downtown Vancouver. The restaurant is set in cross-town, which I can only assume is the nether regions of downtown, the clash between the DTES, touristy Gas town and hip and expensive Rail town. The beat is familiar, Taylor navigates it well.

When I first read this book (as with a nice glass of wine), I wasn’t really anticipating much more than that. Hunger, maybe some musings over the importance to eat local and a few tips about underground cuisine for my next trip across the Strait. I devoured this book in less than 48 hours. Surprisingly, rather than walking away refreshed, hungover and empty, I ended up coming away with two little sweet musings of social commentary.

The first is straightforward, it spoke to me on the level of identity. In Canada, especially in recently colonized Vancouver, the city is new; “contemporary traditions” are still eking out their own place. In a city so new, so speculative with a bloody history so recently etched on an enigmatic past. There are people pushing their way into the city from every corner of the world, pushing out what was there for so long.

This is exactly how I feel about Vancouver. It’s the place of no place and every place. It’s the place of rehashing the past, of wondering what every other city holds. It’s expensive. It’s beautiful. In turn, it demands money and beauty. The city’s lack of identity, rather than it’s identity itself, is a topic of constant conversation. In this long narrative about the food of X-town and his father, Taylor (perhaps unwittingly) effectively navigates the meaning of Vancouver’s identity beyond any other manifesto I’ve read to date. That the city is, what we stole from history, and how we chose to live with it (quote adopted from Barbara Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible).

Taylor successfully manages to integrate these places of immemorial significance into a contemporary hip setting. This is something that few manifestos about Vancouver accomplish. This international-nowhere land party of people rapidly gobbling up the city area has been there for barely two-hundred years, the forest and geography of the city are ancient, and their voices and stories, inescapable are louder and will continue to colour our existence as long as we continue to try to share their space.

What I initially interpreted as a light tasty read, became a vindicating manifesto of what Vancouver is growing into. Taylor’s Stanley Park is a gentle introduction to anyone seeking to integrate themselves into the city from the outside. At times clumsy, the gentle writing tells a balanced tale that goes down as a rich, indulgent meal. Overzealous and at times unmeasured, it cannot be faulted for lack of love or poetry. I look forward to Taylor’s next book.

Read the full review (and others!) here:
http://katiclops.wordpress.com/2012/06/30/devouring-timothy-taylors-park/

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