Graham and Elliot Gordon are half-brothers, six months apart, the only sons of Packer Gordon, a famous architect. Graham is the natural son of Packer and his wife. Elliot is the product of Packer’s dalliance with a mistress. The boys are openly hostile towards each other, always have been, and when they reach their mid-teens, Packer decides they will settle their differences in a boxing ring. He takes them to Pogey Nealon, a retired fighter who runs a gym out of the basement of his house on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. There, after eight weeks of training, the brothers box three rounds that will change their lives forever, as their father watches it all from a distance far greater than ringside: through the lens of his Bolex camera.
Some twenty-odd years later, both Pogey and Packer are dead, and it comes to light that Pogey’s house – the scene of Graham and Elliot’s pivotal battle – was likely an early design of Packer Gordon. Now deserted, the boarded-up building is home only to decades-worth of Pogey’s papers and film reels, and a slow rot that eats away at the walls. Graham is an architect himself, gaining recognition not only for his last name but his own work; he’s recently separated from his wife Esther and at a loss for how to make things work. Elliot is an importer of counterfeit brand-name products who works out of an old hotel on Hastings, and is married to a beautiful woman named Deirdre who gave up architecture to raise their young twins. The brothers’ paths have only crossed twice in the intervening years, and for both, that was twice too many.
In spite of their differences, which have only been magnified over time, Graham and Elliot agree to cooperate in restoring the house at 55 Mary Street, with enthusiastic help from the producer of the hit reality TV show Unexpected Architecture. It’s a seemingly doomed venture, but will make for great television. And as the plans for preserving Packer Gordon’s legacy begin to come together, there’s not only a surprising amount of collaboration, but cautious optimism that they might just pull it off. Yet nobody is prepared for what actually takes place when the cameras roll.
From the Hardcover edition.
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Pogey remembered them appearing from nowhere. Ghosting into view. He remembered them like a punch he hadn’t seen coming: only later, when consciousness had returned.
He didn’t hear the car arrive on the street above, didn’t hear the gym...
1. What is the enduring significance of the teenage boxing match between Graham and Elliot? Why did their father insist on it, and what did the two boys take from it into their future lives?
2. In the first chapter, Pogey elaborates on the style triangle at the heart of boxing, comparing it to rock, paper,...
“Taylor has a knack for imbuing his stories with lyric realism, unearthing beauty in the mundane and trivial…. Story House is never less than eminently readable.”
—Winnipeg Free Press
“A writer with chops…. Story House is a mesmerizing novel, populated by strong, complex characters and driven by a multilayered plot that is both archetypal and completely original…. Although this is a serious work, there are short bursts of brilliantly funny writing that demand to be reread.… He clearly challenged himself to write a more complex novel than Stanley Park, and he succeeds in stunning fashion.”
—The Vancouver Sun
"Taylor’s very good at conjuring vivid visuals, a talent played out in spades in the novel’s tragic final act. . . . Story House is a big, brainy novel. An ambitious project. . . . Taylor’s book [is] intelligently and solidly built."
—The Globe and Mail
"Taylor is a master of the dramatic in medas res and abrupt transition. . . .tour de force writing. . . . Taylor harrows the house of the dead in gripping fashion; he deserves all his accolades, and then some."
"Story House reveals all of Taylor's hallmarks and strengths. No one writes about work with such attention to the minutiae. It's not merely getting the facts; Taylor enters the language and customs of distinct societies and reveals them with astonishing verisimilitude. He immerses readers in alien worlds. . . . Story House is a thrilling tour de force, a most impressive achievement of idea and implementation, of structure in service of function. It's architectural, really. And Timothy Taylor is one of very few writers who could have made it work so well."
Praise for Timothy Taylor:
“[Taylor is] one of the most graceful young stylists around… unflaggingly intelligent.”
“Taylor writes with the wonder and joy of a kid who has had his nose pressed to the candy-store window and all of a sudden finds himself inside, with one cautious eye glancing back over his shoulder.”
“Taylor reminds me of Munro: an edgier, hipper version. He has the miniaturist’s eye for telling gestures and objects, and a magical ear for cryptic dialogues about ordinary things … It was said of James Joyce that he could create a character by describing the way he held an umbrella. Taylor has that talent …”
—The Vancouver Sun
“Timothy Taylor is a major talent who continues to make his mark on the Canadian literary scene.”
—Times Colonist (Victoria)
“Taylor is a fine prose craftsman.”
—Andre Mayer, eye Weekly
Praise for Stanley Park:
“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
“Timothy Taylor writes straight, strong, unadorned prose ... Taylor is as good as the American novelist Jim Harrison when it comes to writing about textures and tangs, colours and sensations.”
—Quill & Quire
Praise for Silent Cruise:
“An intriguing collection of short fiction [from] a master stylist … Taylor’s use of language is exact. He has a gift for choosing exactly the right word to express an idea or an emotion, giving his writing a feeling of strength and precision. Each character rings true, enabling the reader to become engrossed in the stories. Silent Cruise is excellent writing and enjoyably hypnotic.”
—The Hamilton Spectator
“Taylor has an obvious gift for plots, one of the storytelling arts that is irresistibly alluring, but which has fallen somewhat into disuse among short-story writers. These are page-turners, with dramatic turns of events and ‘hidden stories’ that are revealed in surprising, trump-card endings … Taylor is blessed with a prodigious dramatic imagination … Nearly every story Taylor has published has been singled out for some prize or honour, and this first collection affirms that he is more than just lucky.”
—The Globe and Mail