Todd Babiak's new novel, The Garneau Block, published by McClelland & Stewart, has recently been nominated for The Giller Prize. It's a funny/serious sort of book set on a fictional historic avenue in central Edmonton.
A lively cast of characters live on the block, including, Madison Weiss, a secretly pregnant travel agent with a master's degree in comparative literature; Raymond Terletsky, an aging philosopher of death; and "the Young Indian Man From Across the Street." Together, they must save the block from destruction.
In the history of literature, so few novels have been set in urban Alberta that some readers have contacted the author with pointed questions, concerns and comments. Babiak sent Maisonneuve a selection of his favourite reader feedback
As a fan of Alberta literature, I am waiting for the barn and the incest. Where is the barn? Incest?
You are gay.
Why does the East Indian guy speak French? I happen to know tons of East Indian guys. Hindi, Punjabi, sure. But French? It has to be believable-hello?
Is this a fictional novel?
You based the doctor on me, I know it. Do you really think I have dry hair and fat ankles?
The Weiss family is obviously Jewish. Why don't you say so?
You're [sic] book is liberal, socialist propaganda, not a novel. Go back to Russia.
Pronghorn antelope DOES NOT taste good in meat pies. Doesn't integrity matter for anything anymore?
If you're going to write another book about Edmonton, you should meet my husband, Pete. We live in Riverdale and Pete is so funny! I have attached his picture. Yes, that is his real hair.
You are for sure gay.