Synopses & Reviews
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."
About the Author
Timothy Taylor, 37, is a recipient of a National Magazine Award and the only writer ever to have three stories published in a single edition of the Journey Prize Anthology, as he does this fall. His short fiction has appeared in Canada's leading literary magazines and has been anthologized in such publications as Best Canadian Stories and Coming Attractions. He is the author of The Internet Handbook for Canadian Lawyers and was awarded a 1999 Drama Prize for a screenplay, Dissonance. His travel, humour, arts and business pieces have been published in various magazines and periodicals. Born in Venezuela, he now lives in Vancouver.
Reading Group Guide
1. The novel is called Stanley Park
and much of it is set in Stanley Park. Have you been there, by any chance? Has Timothy Taylor's novel changed the way you look at city parks?
2. The park is important in the novel, but so is food and, in particular, the creative menus at Jeremy Papier's restaurant, The Monkey's Paw Bistro. Many critics wrote that they loved this aspect of Stanley Park. What do you think the novel says about our relationship to food? Do you think the author believes in the old adage, "You are what you eat"?
3. If there's a villain in the novel, it is Dante Beale. Do you see him as a villain? Who do you think is better equipped to live in the modern world: Jeremy or Dante?
4. If Dante is a villain, what is the Professor -- Jeremy's father? What do you think of what he calls "participatory anthropology"? Can his experience ever truly emulate the experience of the park's real inhabitants?