Authors: Timothy Taylor
Tags: #Mystery, #Contemporary
“[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.… One thing is clear: the talented Timothy Taylor … is very good at writing about food, on a par with Jim Harrison or Sara Suleri.”
The Globe and Mail
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.”
is a modern morality play [and] 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.”
The Toronto Star
“Vancouver breathes in
, 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 powerful début; expect to hear a lot from him.”
The Edmonton Journal
“Nothing short of superb … A novel to savour [and] a page-turning story. [Taylor is] a gifted writer whose next book will be eagerly awaited by fans of
The London Free Press
“[Taylor’s] exploration of the opposing forces, which motivate the idealists, the opportunists and the materialists, is an extraordinarily creative metaphor for life in the modern age.… Taylor may be on his way to becoming the head chef of Canadian letters.”
Winnipeg Free Press
VINTAGE CANADA EDITION, 2001
Copyright © 2001 by Timothy Taylor
All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published in Canada by Vintage Canada, a division of Random House of Canada Limited, in 2001. First published in hardcover in Canada by Alfred A. Knopf Canada, Toronto, in 2001. Distributed by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto.
Vintage Canada and colophon are registered trademarks of Random House of Canada Limited.
National Library of Canada
Cataloguing in Publication Data
Taylor, Timothy L.
For Jane and for my parents
Richard and Ursula
Timothy Taylor is a recipient of a National Magazine Award, winner of the Journey Prize and the only writer ever to have three stories published in a single edition of the
Journey Prize Anthology
, as he did in the fall of 2000. He is the author of
The Internet Handbook for Canadian Lawyers;
his short fiction has appeared in Canada’s leading literary magazines and has been anthologized in such publications as
Best Canadian Stories
. His travel, humour, arts and business pieces have been published in various magazines and periodicals, including
. He was born in Venezuela and now lives in Vancouver.
One strand of this novel is based on fact. In January of 1953 the skeletal remains of two children were found in Vancouver’s Stanley Park. A hatchet was found with the bodies, which was determined to be the murder weapon. From the time the bodies were discovered until 1998, police believed the bodies to be those of a boy and a girl, aged between seven and ten years. DNA tests subsequently proved that the children were brothers. They have never been identified, no charges have ever been laid, and the case remains open.
They arranged to meet at Lost Lagoon. It was an in-between place, the city on one side, Stanley Park on the other. Ten years of rare contact, and they had sought each other out. Surprised each other, created expectations.
Now the Professor was late.
Jeremy Papier found a bench up the hill from the lagoon and opened a section of newspaper across the wet boards. The bench was between two cherry trees, the pink blossoms of which met high over his head forming an arch, a doorway. It wasn’t precisely the spot they’d discussed—the Professor had suggested the boathouse—but it was within eyesight, within shouting distance. It was close enough. If he had to wait, Jeremy thought, settling onto the paper and blowing out a long breath, he was going to sit. He crossed one long, aching leg over the other. He fingered the tooling on a favourite pair of cowboy boots, ran long fingers through tangled black hair.
He sat because he was tired, certainly. Jeremy accepted that being a chef, even a young chef, meant being exhausted most of the time. But there had also been a family portrait taken here, on this bench, years before. Also early spring, he remembered; the three of them had sat here under the cherry blossoms. Jeremy on the one side, seven years old. His mother, Hélène,
on the other. The Professor had his arms around them both, feet flat on the grass. He looked extremely pleased. Jeremy’s mother was less obviously so, her expression typically guarded, although she made dozens of copies of the photo and sent these off to relatives spread across Europe from Ireland to Spain, from the Czech Republic to as far east as Bulgaria. Documenting settlement. He wondered if his father, who had no relations other than those in the photo, would remember this detail.
Now Jeremy lit a cigarette and watched an erratic stream of homeless people making their way into the forest for the night. When he arrived there had been seawall walkers and hotdog eaters, birdwatchers, rollerbladers, chess players returning from the picnic tables over by bowling greens. Then lagoon traffic changed direction like a freak tide. The flow of those heading back to their warm apartments in the West End tapered to nothing, and the paths were filled with the delusional, the alcoholic, the paranoid, the bipolar. The Professor’s subjects, his obsession. The inbound. Four hundred hectares of Stanley Park offering its bleak, anonymous shelter to those without other options.
Of course, Jeremy didn’t have to remind himself, the Professor had other options.
They had discussed meeting on the phone earlier in the week. When Jeremy picked up—expecting a late reservation, maybe his black-cod supplier, who was due into Vancouver the next morning—he heard wind and trees rustling at the other end of the line. Normally reticent, the Professor was animated about his most recent research.
“… following on from everything that I have done,” he said, “culminating with this work.” From his end, standing at a pay phone on the far side of the lagoon, the Professor could hear the dishwasher hammering away in the background behind his son’s tired response.
anthropology. Is that what you call it now?” Jeremy was saying. “I thought it was
“Like everything,” the Professor answered, “my work has evolved.”
He needed help with something, the Professor said. He wanted to meet.
“How unusual,” Jeremy said.
“And what advice can I give on running a restaurant?” the Professor shot back.
“None,” Jeremy answered. “I just said there was something I wanted to talk to you about. Something that had to do with the restaurant.”
“Strange times,” the Professor said, looking into the darkness around the pay phone. Checking instinctively.
Very strange. The stream of those inbound had slowed to a trickle. A trio of men passed, bent behind shopping carts that were draped and hung with plastic, heaped to the height of pack horses, bags full of other bags. Jeremy could only wonder at the purpose of them all, although the Professor could have told him that the bag itself captured the imagination. It held emblematic power. For its ability to hold, certainly. To secure contents, to carry belongings from place to place. But even the smell of the plastic, its oily permanence, suggested the resilience of things discarded.