Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Herby's Surplus

Last Friday, while perusing the shelves of Surplus Herby's Vernon store, I came upon their discount book table. The first book I saw was The Ben Calder Story (2005) by Stephen Zeifman, which, according to its cover, is "Book Three of the Toronto Trilogy."

Here is the synopsis that appears at Goodreads:

Ben Calder, an artist teaching at one of Canada’s oldest independent girl’s schools, is beginning to unravel. After a female student arrives from Italy, he realizes that he was in love with her mother in high school. When the mother arrives in Toronto for her daughter’s 18th birthday, however, the daughter’s jealousy precipitates Ben’s fall. Probing the heart of contemporary malaise, this novel follows a man without faith, navigating through the moral and ethical dilemmas of modern life.

And here is Deirdre Kelly's Goodreads review:

Mr. Zeifman was my art teacher at a Toronto gilrs' school, the backdrop to this rather sorry portrait of a teacher on the verge of what seems to be a nervous breakdown. I admit being a tad shocked by it. I found the sexual portraits hard to stomach. My favourite scene was at the very beginning, a haunting re-creation of a Jewish camping experience in the hinterland of Ontario, which was mightily evocative. When things got graphic and weird, I lost my capacity for empathy. Call me old-fashioned.

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