Books

On the Shelf

Silent Cruise, Timothy Taylor's first collection of short fiction, is a long, lush series of stories that will delight fans of his enormously successful debut novel, Stanley Park. Several of these strangely original stories are obliquely connected with each other (either through strange thematic turns or common characters), and they share with the novel a setting in western Canada and an interest in food.
 
In his first novel, Stanley Park, Taylor brought readers into the inner workings of the Vancouver culinary scene, writing evocatively about everything from divine local ingredients to kitchen politics. In Story House, he takes on the rarefied world of architectural design – with some boxing, fishing and reality TV thrown in.

Graham and Elliot Gordon are half-brothers, six months apart, the only sons of Packer Gordon, a famous architect. Graham is the natural son of Packer and his wife. Elliot is the product of Packer’s dalliance with a mistress. The boys are openly hostile towards each other, always have been, and when they reach their mid-teens, Packer decides they will settle their differences in a boxing ring. He takes them to Pogey Nealon, a retired fighter who runs a gym out of the basement of his house on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. There, after eight weeks of training, the brothers box three rounds that will change their lives forever, as their father watches it all from a distance far greater than ringside: through the lens of his Bolex camera
.

 

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.

A National Post Most Anticipated Book of 2011...
“The Blue Light Project will haunt readers for decades to come...
Laura Moss, editor Canadian Literature
“Timothy Taylor is without a doubt one of Canada's finest writers.
Steven Galloway, author of Cellist of Sarajevo
“Unforgettable. An exhilarating, at-times alarming read.
Ayssa York, author of Effigy
 
In a very near future that is both familiar and troubling, three lives intersect in a time of crisis. 
A controversial talent show involving children is midway through taping when a man storms the television studio and takes over a hundred hostages. He’s armed with an explosive device, but expresses no motive and makes just one demand: an interview with journalist Thom Pegg.
It's a strange request, everyone agress. A disgraced former investigative journalist, caught fabricating sources, Pegg is down on his luck and working for a lowly tabloid. Reluctant, but pressured by federal authorities, Pegg agrees to meet the hostage taker. So it is that Pegg learns why he was chosen and the horrifying truth of what the hostage taker is trying to achieve.
Crowds of people congregate near the studio, anxiously waiting along with the outside world. In the confusing perfect storm of news and rumor, two people meet and forge an immediate connection. Eve is a former Olympic gold medalist and much loved local daughter, who jogs the streets at night, running from her own past glories. Rabbit is a secretive street artist working to complete a massive street art project, which involves installatioins on the rooftops of hundreds of buildings throughout the city.
It's a frightening time. Yet rising to its heart-stopping climax, The Blue Light Project surprises the city, and the reader, with the power of beauty and the unexpected sources of faith and light that may be found in even our darkest hours.
--  Knopf (Canada) and Soft Skull (US)
And here's the US cover, published by Soft Skull:
 

 

Foodville by Timothy Taylor
Print length: 47 pages
Nonvella

Buy the ebook on Amazon here ($2.99 US, $4.29 CAD). Print editions available on Amazon, June 26th ($9.99).

In this nose-to-tail culinary confessional, the acclaimed novelist behind the bestseller Stanley Park, Silent Cruise, and The Blue Light Project makes a three-course meal out of our food-obsessed culture. When and how did we all get so hyped up about food? What is driving our fixation?
Calling on Taylor’s fascination with food critic culture, his recollection of meals miserable and meals sublime, and his experimentation with cooking at the cutting edge and in the deepest recesses of the out-of-fashion, Foodville feasts its way through the dining rooms and restaurants of our era, evoking a telling, affectionate and yet critical portrait of what we really talk about when we talk about food.

Excerpt:

I FELL FOR a girl over a meal in the Top of the Horizon once, the restaurant on the 31st floor of the Blue Horizon Hotel in downtown Vancouver. I was five years old, maybe six. Some Danish friends of my father’s were in town and they had a daughter around my age. Her name may have been Bridget, or Heidi, I don’t remember. She was this perfect doll: straw blonde, green eyes. I remember she wore a white dress with a red ribbon around her waist. The adults put us across from one another at the end of the table, so it was like we had our own little dinner date going on by the window, sipping Shirley Temples and eating those 1970s shish kebabs of skewered cubes of meat and green peppers.

The food probably wasn’t great. But the dining experience was seminal, because I think even at that age I sensed what magical things were possible with the right person and the right meal. The right view. The right rays of orange sunlight sloping off the shoulder of Stanley Park. When that little girl caught me gazing at her, she smiled back sweetly as if she’d been thinking exactly the same thing. And at the end of the evening, she gave me a blue-lacquered wooden horse that she’d brought all the way from Copenhagen.

Fast forward 20-odd years. I was newly married, and had just taken a job with the Toronto Dominion Bank in Vancouver. My wife and I had moved from Toronto, but in the weeks before we finalized our apartment, the bank put us up at… the Blue Horizon Hotel. We didn’t eat at the restaurant. These were our La Bodega years, and I’m not even sure Top of the Horizon was open at that time. But while unpacking, we came across an old scrapbook my wife had kept as a girl. And tucked into its pages was a photo of her when she was five. I hadn’t seen the picture before or any other one of her at that age. Which allowed me to discover—in a strange temporal rush, that feeling of a vortex opening and connecting you to a very particular moment and set of feelings from the past—just how firmly that long-ago meal had stayed in my subconscious. How seamlessly woven into memory it had been. Because looking at that picture of my wife, I realized that at five years of age, and right at the same time, she and Bridget/Heidi had looked exactly alike.

***

SEMINAL MEALS, FORMATIVE meals. The plates and flavors we never forget.

I’ve been poring over old menus and recipe cards from the mid-1970s, trying to push myself back in time. It’s one thing to understand how our long-ago evangelists changed the food world in unexpected, even unpredictable ways. But can we the diners and review readers push ourselves back? Can we ever really understand what came before, what food was like before the revolution hit, before we surrendered it to the tossing of fashion’s seas?

I’m suppose I’m the kind of food lover who would try. I have an obvious fondness for the old school. My heroes Barber and Pepin are guys who both published recipes for a stuffed whole head of cabbage. (You don’t see that on many menus, these days…) I always appreciated how settled they both seemed to be in their own culinary practices. Not much would change about either of them from the beginning to the end of their public cooking careers.

Want more? You can buy Foodville over at:
Amazon.com ($3.99) or Amazon.ca ($4.29)