somebody tell me that timothy Findley did not write Spadework. Assure me it's either been ghosted or he's been diddled by his inner hack. This book cannot be a product of the imagination that brought us Famous Last Words, Headhunter or even Pilgrim. There is nothing important here, no sense of dread -- no mood of any kind -- and the story is pure soap opera. The setting for this potboiler is Stratford, Ontario, where director Jonathan Crawford has a hard-on for young actor Griffin Kincaid, whose ambition makes him an easy fuck. Kincaid's wife Jane and child Will are freaking out, the kid by going into retreat and Jane by getting it on with the Bell repair guy and swigging tons o' red wine. Housekeeper Mercy tsk-tsks in the background while getting close to the gardener, and there's a serial killer on the loose.
This last storyline doesn't connect to anything, but Findley's so busy giving us explicit details about the decor of all his favourite Stratford eateries (did he make a product placement deal with Pazzo, or what?) that he's forgotten about creating characters, let alone narrative tension.
You'd think with his experience -- Findley's own excellent plays have been produced at the Stratford festival -- we'd get at least a shred of insight into the always fascinating creative process. Forget about it. If you're looking for fiction that elicits the thrill -- and terror -- that goes with breathing life into a theatrical work, go back to the late Carole Corbeil's wonderful In The Wings and leave Spadework where it belongs -- buried.
spadework by Timothy Findley (HarperFlamingo), 408 pages, $35 cloth. Rating: N