The Garneau Block


Author: Todd Babiak

Published: 2006

Genre: Fiction

About The Garneau Block: The residents of an Edmonton cul-de-sac join together in an effort to save their neighbourhood.

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Review of The Garneau Block

Two weeks ago, a tragedy occurred at 10 Garneau. Now the residents of the block have been invited to a mysterious meeting.

Madison turned to press against the mountain ash tree in front of her parents' house for a calf stretch, and discovered a sheet of fresh white paper duct-taped to the bark. Since the night Benjamin Perlitz was shot and his wife and daughter disappeared into the secret grief of the city, Madison and her neighbours had been less likely to be surprised. But this was a heritage area in the regulatory shadow of the university. It was strictly forbidden to affix advertisements, notices, and flyers on historically significant trees and lampposts.

Laser-printed in capital letters, in a classic font without any cartoons or pixelated photographs: LET'S FIX IT.

...from pages 3-4

Things are going awry on the Garneau block and soon, Madison and her neighbours will have more to fix than they realized.

This book was originally serialized in the Edmonton Journal so while there were a lot of chapters, all of them were approximately the same length (or maybe exactly the same, I didn't count). At first glance, this seemed to be a good thing. Short chapters equals lots of easy places to put the book down, right? Wrong. In this book, short chapters (and its former serialization) meant teaser endings and several nights of thinking I had time for "just one more" until I looked at the clock and realized I should have been asleep an hour ago.

I loved all of the characters, even the ones I didn't like all that much, and their interactions with each other were often funny and sometimes sweet. The dialogue felt real (Jonas, the actor, had some great lines) and I thought attending a weekly improvised soap opera sounded liked a fun thing to do. There was lots of humour, more than one love story, and I couldn't help hoping that their crazy scheme for saving their neighbourhood would succeed.

I really enjoyed this book. I was telling my daughter that it was originally serialized and she asked if I would have been willing to buy the newspaper for 95 days in order to read it. The answer was yes, absolutely.

Reviewed by Lynn Bornath on 30 November 2009.

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More Reviews

Monique, So Misguided, 22 August 2006
“ of the funniest pieces of Canadiana I've read in a long time.”
‘Garneau Block brings Edmonton home for you and you and you.’ Christopher Thrall, Vue Weekly, 20 September 2006
“Sublime. It's the only word for The Garneau Block...”
‘End of the road.’ Juliet Waters, Montreal Mirror, 28 September 2006
“...a quirky and often very funny examination of community life.”
Adair Brouwer, Quill & Quire, September 2006
“It is whimsical, which is death for the highbrow crowd but catnip for those who love, say, The Vinyl Cafe.”


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Added 30 November 2009.
Updated 27 August 2013.