Mike Tanner is definitely on the right track. He wants to take fiction out of Canada's rugged wilderness, make it about musicians and artists and revel in his Toronto locations. And he can definitely write.Too bad his editors failed to help him make Acting The Giddy Goat work. It's got at least two too many main characters, can't figure out who its protagonist is and leaves important threads hanging.
It also suffers from a number of debut-novel malaises. One character, Brewmaster Bill, works in a micro-brewery while trying to write his first novel. First-time fiction writers should just write the damn thing and resist the idea of writing about writing it.
Martin's quit his job teaching kindergarten because he wants to teach philosophy. Thing is, he forgot to tell his wife first. Painter Susan lusts after a prick of a filmmaker. Adam has a chance to reconnect with his old band, which has just scored a record deal. Bandleader Johnny Raccoon is coping with record executive slime.
This is an occasionally fun observational novel full of way too much observation, another pattern afflicting first novelists. We don't need to read every single flash that crosses a writer's brain, even if there may be some insight in a particular tidbit.
Tanner launches Acting The Giddy Goat with his band at the Red Lantern Friday (January 17). See Readings, this page.
acting the giddy goat by Mike Tanner (Cormorant), 387 pages. $22.95 paper. Rating: NN