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Stanley Park

Stanley Park

4.0 1
by Timothy Taylor

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A love story wrapped in a murder mystery, served up as a laugh-out-loud satire of the trendy urban restaurant scene.

Jeremy Papier, the new Alice Waters of the Vancouver food world, is fast becoming known for his radically rear-guard cuisine—tradition-steeped dishes that celebrate the bounty of the Pacific Northwest. His restaurant, The Monkey's Paw Bistro, is


A love story wrapped in a murder mystery, served up as a laugh-out-loud satire of the trendy urban restaurant scene.

Jeremy Papier, the new Alice Waters of the Vancouver food world, is fast becoming known for his radically rear-guard cuisine—tradition-steeped dishes that celebrate the bounty of the Pacific Northwest. His restaurant, The Monkey's Paw Bistro, is always fully booked, but, unfortunately, it's more an artistic triumph than a reasonably run business. Far too costly ever to turn a profit, it is kited by Jeremy on dozens of maxed-out credit cards. An old family friend, Dante Beale, owner of a worldwide chain of cookie-cutter coffeehouses, is willing to bail the restaurant out— for the price of sole control. It's a business proposition made in hell, one strenuously opposed by Jeremy's pretty young sous chef, the incorruptible, plainspoken Jules.

Jeremy's problems deepen when his eccentric-academic father—a "participatory anthropologist" half Joseph Mitchell, half Joe Gould—loses himself among the homeless in Vancouver's Stanley Park. He lives as they do (he's especially adept at catching and roasting sparrows) and soon involves Jeremy in researching a "cold case" crime, the true-life murder of two children slain in the park in the early 1970's.

Timothy Taylor—the writer who "everyone in the Canadian literary community today is talking about" (Globe and Mail)—weaves together the disparate, brightly colored strands of his story with unerring skill and unflagging comic invention. Stanley Park, already a Canadian best seller, is a comic novel of the first order—and a memorable literary debut.

chef of Canadian Letters." (Winnipeg Free Press)

Author Biography: Timothy Taylor is a winner of the Journey Prize, the Canadian equivalent of the O. Henry Award, and the only writer ever to have had three stories chosen for a single volume of the annual Journey Prize Anthology. His debut collection, Silent Cruise and Other Stories, will be published by Counterpoint in Fall 2002. Born in Venezuela in 1963, he lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, and is currently at work on a second novel.

Editorial Reviews

National Post
Not since Isak Dinesen's Babette's Feast has so lavish a table been set for the reader
Publishers Weekly
What's local in a world that is becoming one global monoculture? That's the question confronting Jeremy Papier, the Vancouver chef at the center of Taylor's comic debut novel. Jeremy divides chefs into two types: the transnational Crips, who mix, say, Chilean farm-bred salmon and kimchi, without compunction; and Bloods, who are purists, stubbornly local in their food choices. Along with his friend Jules Capelli, another Blood, Jeremy runs the Monkey's Paw Bistro, making meals from mostly local ingredients for local foodies. Storm clouds lie on the horizon, however. Jeremy is deep in debt. To get by, he scams some $2,000 with the aid of Benny, a customer-turned-girlfriend. The scam backfires, and Jeremy has to turn to Dante Beale, an old family friend and the owner of a national chain of coffee houses, for money. Dante redesigns the bistro, turning it into a potential Crip palace. Jules is fired. Jeremy, under contract, remains. Turning for solace to his father, an anthropologist whose major project is living with the homeless in Stanley Park, Jeremy is reluctantly drawn into his father's work and the investigation of a decades-old mystery involving two children killed in the park. Along the way, he becomes fascinated by cooking for the homeless, and the joys of preparing squirrel, raccoon and starlings carry him into a glorious prank, which he plays at the opening of Beale's redesigned bistro. Taylor has written a sort of cook's version of the anti-WTO protests, striking a heartfelt and entertaining blow against conformity. (June) Forecast: Foodies will be the base readership for Taylor's novel (mentions in food magazines and on food Web sites should help alert them to its publication), though it is a literary title in its own right and was shortlisted for the Giller Prize in Canada. It should do particularly well on the West Coast, where its political and culinary sensibilities will resonate (Taylor will embark on a West Coast tour). Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An uneven but tasty debut about a Vancouver chef who turns guerrilla prankster while trying to reconnect with his slightly mad anthropologist father. Jeremy Papier chose his colors in cooking school, a place he saw as being divided between Crips and Bloods. Jeremy can't stand the Crips, who "tended to stack things like mahi-mahi and grilled eggplant in wobbly towers glued together with wasabi mayonnaise," while being a Blood means being linked to tradition but not beholden to it. Jeremy has come from France to start up his own bistro in Vancouver. Reasonably successful, the place still isn't doing as well as it should, and the badly straitened Jeremy is also indebted to the ludicrous corporate-caricature Dante Beale for a quarter-million. Meanwhile, his anthropologist father-who practices a brand of immersive research that involves living in Stanley Park with the homeless tribes he's writing about-seems to be sliding further down a slippery mental slope. As Jeremy is forced into ever-more desperate schemes to stay afloat, he feels a kinship with his father, whose research about connections to the land mirrors his own desires to cook with local ingredients. Hovering like a shark is Dante, who calls in his debt from Jeremy, forcing him into a partnership in a pretentious Crip palace. Dante is horrifying to Jeremy partly because he runs a chain of popular coffeehouses called (of course) Inferno, offending Jeremy's senses to the core. Award-winning storywriter Taylor (whose first collection will be published in fall 2002) is obviously also offended, and his passion for the original and non-co-opted provides his tale both with its passion and its worst elements: Dante's latte lairs are weaksatire at best, and the subplot about Jeremy's father never quite gels-both distracting from Taylor's delightful depictions of Jeremy's culinary creations. Still, the reader is plunged right into the steamy excitement of a great restaurant going at full throttle, creating a serious craving, say, for Jeremy's grilled lime-marinated sockeye salmon.
From the Publisher
“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.”

“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

Product Details

Counterpoint Press
Publication date:
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5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.30(d)

Read an Excerpt

the canvasback

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.

“Participatory anthropology. Is that what you call it now?” Jeremy was saying. “I thought it was immersive.”

“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.

Jeremy watched the three men make their way around the lagoon and disappear into the trails. He glanced at his watch, sighed. Lifted his chin and breathed in the saline breeze. It brought to mind the ocean beyond the park, sockeye salmon schooling in the deep, waiting for the DNA-encoded signal to turn in their millions and rush the mouth of the Fraser, the tributary offshoot, the rivulet of water and the gravel-bed spawning grounds beyond. Mate, complete the cycle, die. And then, punctuating this thought, the rhododendron bushes across the lawn boiled briefly and disgorged Caruzo, the Professor’s manic vanguard.

“Hey, hey,” Caruzo said, approaching the bench. “Chef Papier.” He exhaled the words in a blast.

He dressed for the mobile outdoor life, Caruzo. Three or four sweaters, a torn corduroy jacket, a heavy coat, then a raincoat over all of that. It made the big man even bigger, the size of a lineman, six foot five, although stooped a little with the years. Those being of an indeterminate number; Jeremy imagined only that it must be between fifty and ninety. Caruzo had a white garbage bag tied on over one shoe, although it was only threatening to rain, and pants wrapped at the knees in electrical tape. His ageless, wind-beaten face was protected by a blunt beard that fell to his chest. Exposed skin had darkened, blackened as a chameleon might against the same forest backdrop.

“The Professor,” Caruzo announced, “is waiting.”

Meet the Author

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.

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Stanley Park 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A really interesting read which manages to combine such seemingly disparate themes as food (described in passionate detail), the homeless of Vancouver and father-son relationships. I bought this book with no expectations and was pleasantly surprised. I look forward to future works.