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review 2015-07-13 00:00
Dinner along the Amazon
Dinner along the Amazon - Timothy Findley I enjoyed these stories, although occasionally I felt that I was missing something that was obliquely expressed. Still, it's a merit in a short story if you have to put the book down after you finish it and think hard about it for a few minutes instead of just ploughing on.

That may be why my favourite of the bunch, entitled "Losers, Finders, Strangers at the Door" is not only one of the shortest but one of the most straightforward. Clues are dropped throughout an awkward conversation, and eventually it becomes clear that the woman in the house is meeting and welcoming in (although welcoming may be a bit strong) her husband's gay lover.

Findley specializes in characters who are bizarre and unpredictable; he makes you pay attention to their slightest gestures and utterances as you try to figure them out. I like that.
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quote 2014-10-09 15:15
Think of the sea. Imagine something mysterious rises to the surface on a summer afternoon - shows itself and is gone before it can be identified.
The people on the shore sit beneath their umbrellas, comfortable and dozing. Half of them are asleep. Of the other half, perhaps only two or three have seen the thing. None of them points: none of them shouts. None of them dares. After all, one could be wrong.

By the end of the afternoon, the shape - whatever it was - can barely be remembered. No one can be made to state it was absolutely thus and so. Nothing can be conjured of its size. In the end the sighting is rejected, becoming something only dimly thought on: dreadful but unreal.

Thus, whatever rose towards the light is left to sink unnamed: a shape that passes slowly through a dream. Waking, all we remember is the awesome presence, while a shadow lying dormant in the twilight whispers from the other side of reason: I am here. I wait.

Timothy Findley in: Famous last words
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review 2013-10-05 06:06
Elizabeth Rex by Timothy Findley
Elizabeth Rex - Timothy Findley,Paul Thompson

Note: The review below was taken directly from my Goodreads account.


A well-written, emotional play about Elizabeth I wanting to be entertained (read: distracted) by Shakespeare's acting troupe on the eve of the Earl of Essex's beheading.

I read it because I'm working at Bard this summer and it's one of the plays that we're putting on. I think it has a lovely contrast between the character Ned, who is the leading lady actor in Shakespeare's plays and therefore knows how to act more feminine, and Queen Elizabeth I, who is a monarch and needs to take on the roles of a king and therefore acts more masculine. The two try to teach each other to feel more in line with their sexes as they face some life-changing events.

It's a nice look into the feelings behind Elizabeth I's choices, especially since the Earl of Essex was considered one of her favourites and a potential suitor (if not an actual lover). But she has one backbone considering she executes him for treason.

The only thing I didn't like is the presumption that Queen Elizabeth I and the Earl of Essex really did do the boom-diggity as that is not fact, nor that Shakespeare was super in love with Southampton as that hasn't be proven either. I guess if you're taking the lives of people and making them into fictional versions, then I guess you're allowed artistic licence to do that. Either way, it`s canon in Findley's head, but it's not in mine.

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review 2013-06-29 00:00
Pilgrim - Timothy Findley Excellent! A great blend of fiction and history, re-imagined through the eyes of one of my very favourite story-tellers.

Reincarnation (?) meets Jung's collective unconscious. With Leonardo (da Vinci, not diCaprio - it's not THAT book), Oscar Wilde, William & Henry James. Art and religion clash and coalesce. Doves, pigeons, sheep, dogs <3 and angels; unwilling saints and saintly lunatics. The sacred nature of nature. The transcendent, innate spirituality of art. Dreams, myth, madness, mysticism and a little magical realism thrown in for good measure.<br/>
An engrossing, illuminating, enticing read. One of my favourite Canadian authors on this Canada Day weekend.

Must read up some more on CG Jung. He seems like a bit of a prick here, or - as our hero Pilgrim would have it: "a useless prick."

4.5 (I'm knocking a 1/2 star off for early narrative voice issues; they resolved or started to matter less as the tale was told.)
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review 2013-01-24 00:00
Headhunter - Timothy Findley Headhunter is not a book to read if you want the word "settled" to enter your vocabulary any time in the near future. It is perhaps as unsettling a book as I am willing to read, and yet, I've read it three or four times now. It keeps drawing me back, for all its horror.

Kurtz has escaped from Heart of Darkness and is loose on the streets of Toronto. Well, not only loose, but the head of a psychiatric institution, and there, he is delving even further into the darkest depths of the human psyche than perhaps he has ever done before.

Lilah Kemp, schizophrenic and spiritualist, was the one who accidentally let him out of the book where he should have stayed. She attempts to negotiate madnesses real and perceived in order to get him back in.

And of course, every Kurtz has his Marlowe, a new psychiatrist taking up a job at the same institution, and walking into a world of more darkness and horror than he expected.

Where are these damaged children coming from? Why is one of his fellow psychiatrists becoming erratic and desperate? What secrets are the walls holding - and who do those secrets belong to?

Headhunter is a story of madnesses, of who wants to control the mad, and who wants to help them learn to live with their madness. Of what happens when the rich of Toronto, old money and nouveau riche alike find themselves in a maelstrom of hidden desires, unleashed on the city with the encouragement of some of those who are supposed to be helping them.

Money underlines this book, money and what those who have a lot of power, might also desire to do, and to what depths they might willingly sink.

Madness exists in this book on a societal level, on an individual level, on a family level. And it is accompanied by a desire for control, as Kurtz tries to see how much power letting others travel down the darkest depths of their own desires might give him.

As well as Kurtz and Marlowe, Jay Gatsby and Emma Bovary make guest starring appearances in this book, and it makes me wonder if there are other allusions I missed....

Findley went very, very dark with Headhunter and yet I keep coming back to it once in a while.
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