The Parabolist

A Novel

Publisher: Anchor Canada
Parabolist: noun (1) one who speaks in parables. (2) a member of a splinter group of disaffected young poets in Mexico City c. 1975. (3) a practitioner of the art of concentrating multiple sources of energy into a single focus, illuminating or, if left unchecked, destroying everything in its path.

Part comedy, part mystery, The Parabolist is a novel about murder, sex, the medical establishment, poetry and vigilante justice on the streets of Toronto in 1975.

Told through interlacing narratives, the story funnels towards the eye of an unsolved crime: on a rainy summer night, a woman is raped and very nearly murdered, but for the intervention of two drunken vigilantes who kill her attacker before fleeing the scene. The only clue the police have about their identities is a slab of Crisco shortening found on the victim.

The unforgettable cast of characters includes a charismatic Mexican poet, a libido-driven first-year medical student, a runaway teen turned prostitute, a raven-haired beauty, a sinister psychiatrist, and a donated corpse that is dissected - from skin to muscle to bone - as layer by layer, the inscrutable mysteries of anatomy, love, literature and life are poignantly revealed.

This is a funny, satirical, searing, dangerous and tender story of earnest youth and their ardent desire for love, acceptance and fulfillment.

From the Hardcover edition.


It was well past three or four in the morning and she was married and far more experienced than he was and he couldn’t remember half the things they did there in her bedroom on Roxborough Drive.
Oh Jasper, she kept saying.
Then there was a crunching sound in the gravel outside in the...
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"Comic and inventive."
— Edmonton Journal

"A playful, literary mystery."
— Winnipeg Free Press

"Wildly inventive."
— The Sun Times (Owen Sound)

"An inventive, poetic, and thoroughly wonderful book."
— Vincent Lam

"Dazzling . . . an exciting, compelling, and expertly layered mystery."
— Anthony De Sa

"[A] big-brained, warm-hearted debut."
— Kyo Maclear

Praise for Nicholas Ruddock:
"Ruddock has a refined ear for dialogue and a mischievous sense of humour. He also knows how to bring a story to a memorable conclusion."
— David Bezmozgis

"Nobody can mistake the ingenuity of Nicholas Ruddock…. Ruddock has talent to burn; he writes with verve and style."
— Madeleine Thien

"Accomplished, original, witty and wise…. A wonderful piece of writing."
— Helen Humphreys (on "The Housepainters")

From the Hardcover edition.