In the well-written and funny book The Parabolist by Nicholas Ruddock (Doubleday), a poet from Mexico takes over a poetry class for medical students in Toronto and precipitates a crazy string of events that includes a couple of murders (one of which may have been the result of reading a poem), a rape and a suicide attempt.
Nonetheless, this book will make you laugh—at the surprising idea that poetry can be the catalyst for violent and life-changing events, and at the dark humour of the medical students, who, when they’re not attending poetry class, are bending over their assigned cadavers and, week after week, cutting them up.
There’s also a guy who is driven to keep updating his book on French idioms even as the publisher is producing the galleys (language changes so quickly these days), an ill-fated midnight canoe ride (complete with a loon sighting) in which a young man encounters the wrong woman, and a lot of running around the streets of Toronto. Ruddock is also a doctor, but don’t be put off: it just means that his descriptions of eviscerated body parts are deliciously graphic.
This is a great novel that just happens to be Canadian.
(Read here for an excerpt of The Parabolist)