canadian ~ twenty-first century literature since 1999

Pontypool Changes Everything
by Tony Burgess
ECW Press, 1998.

Reviewed by Michael Bryson

Oh, me. Oh, my. What a book we have here. A book about a zombie infestation in southern Ontario circa now, which empties out cities and makes citizens fearful of the language they speak. Pontypool Changes Everything provides yet more evidence that the newest generation of Canadian writers have moved away from the sickly National Project encouraged by arts funding council bureaucrats and post-Expo '67 flagwavers to a rainbow of experimentation of the most rewarding kind. 

Burgess displays nary a trace of Northop Frye's "garrison mentality" in his loopy cannibalistic tale, the sequel to his earlier success, The Hellmouths of Bewdley, and second in a trilogy recently completed with the release of Caesarea. The only garrison in this novel is the one Burgess' characters build (physically or mentally) to ward off the flesh eaters and their language-based disease. 

If you're wondering what it all means, you're probably asking the wrong question. The best fiction is more than meaningful, it's interesting. Provocative. Quizzical. Threatening to those who refuse to question the assumptions that underlie the quotidian. That is, the everyday. 

Pontypool Changes Everything gets beneath those assumptions. It provides a startling new vision of the world that stares out at us from daily newspaper headlines and the bland repertoire of television programming. It is the best kind of novel and a tasty book to read.

Michael Bryson is the editor of The Danforth Review.







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ISSN 1494-6114. 


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