Popular Anatomy

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The Porcupine's Quill, 1995 - Fiction - 584 pages
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Spanning three hundred years of imaginary time, and four years of real time, Popular Anatomy is set in the present and imagined from the future. A perversely historical novel this comic chronicle springs from Vancouver in the inflationary years of the early 1980s. Its galaxy of characters -- born and unborn, white and black, impoverished and professional -- all seek a richer, closer world against expanding odds. Debt and ruin loom in a crippling recession that succeeds the Year of the Rooster.

Touching down in cities from Asia to Africa, Central to South America, Keath Fraser's triptych is a masterful anatomy of our own ersatz culture, holding out some hope of a grand unity through the history of one Canadian city and its increasingly interwoven protagonists.

Dwight Irving is a travel agent who loathes travel, but who finds this no impediment to fabricating a travel empire of advice and packaged trips through his highly leveraged company, Herodotus Tours. His foster charge, Aloysius, is a brilliant punk-rock orphan from Bombay, with an earring and purple hair, whose clambering entrepreneurial spirit brings him to trial for trafficking in refugees. A doctor of chiropractic, Bartlett Day, friend and housemate to the Irvings, is a wide and ironic traveller, visitor of bone caches from Calcutta to Kampala, Phnom Penh to Lima. He is a man disillusioned with his quack profession, yet in deep sympathy with his dislocated patients at home.

Meditating on time and place, home and abroad, in quest of unifying metaphors in an illusory world, Popular Anatomy is science fiction in the deepest sense. Plot inflates here like Creation itself, contracting finally to reconcile fiction and history in a novel of thematic dexterity and virtuoso storytelling.

 

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Contents

Dedicatory Note
11
Book One AGAINST NATURE The Illusionist Father
13
Apocalypse Now
15
Making History
27
The Question of Our Age
50
Against Nature
75
Songs of Travel
88
Travel by Proxy
104
Video Dates and Dirty Luv
240
The Boss
257
Love Prisoner
275
The Life of a Tuxedo
290
Book Three BONES Pi lgr iminLaw
315
A Time Traveller
317
The Elephant Is Slow to Mate
335
Bones
371

Float Therapy
120
Principles and Procedures
134
Capital G Glass
151
Bleak House
165
Book Two THE LIFE OF A TUXEDO Brother Landlord
177
Thin Ice
179
Underground
187
Foreign Trade
202
The World Is My Barbershop
218
Thirst
226
XRays
389
The Hand of Hyperbole
416
Dr Death Co
438
Mans Creation
464
Wisdom Like Desire
480
MirrorSide of Knowledge
510
Nazca
542
Afterword
571
Acknowledgements
584
Copyright

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About the author (1995)

Keath Fraser's stories and novellas have been reprinted in numerous Canadian and international anthologies. His essays on writing are reprinted in the anthologyHow Stories Mean(PQL, 1993). He is the author of two earlier acclaimed story collections, Taking Cover (Oberon, 1982) and Foreign Affairs (Stoddart, 1985). His novel, Popular Anatomy (PQL, 1995), won the 1996 Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award. He has travelled extensively throughout the world and ha

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