canadian ~ twenty-first century literature since 1999

Lost Girls
by Andrew Pyper
HarperFlamingo Canada, 1999.

Reviewed by Michael Bryson

Andrew Pyper's first novel follows his critically acclaimed short story collection, Kiss Me (Porcupine's Quill, 1997). It has also made him something of a literary tabloid star (at least within the nefarious Canadian lit scene) after he snared a controversial agent who secured him a six-figure two-book deal with U.S. and U.K. publishers. 

And so, how is it? What do we conclude? Lost Girls is a modest effort in the familiar first-novel kind of way. Like, say, Martin Amis's The Rachel Papers, Pyper's novel shows a young writer of talent trying to work out a relationship to his craft. The protagonist, for example, is straight from central casting. He's a young coke snorting lawyer self-consciously without morals and eager to confess the sordid details of his life. Yawn. 

The plot mixes elements of Margaret Atwood's back country and Robertson Davies' ghost tales as Pyper's urbanite lawyer is banished to Northern Ontario by his senior law partners to defend a nutty high school English teacher (surely the only one!), who hears voices, collects girls' underwear and is accused of murdering two teenaged girls who were in his class. 

Lost Girls, in short, is a safe convention breaker. It is a convention blender. There are more interesting things happening in Canadian literature - indeed more interesting things happening in Ontario's cottage country than the events described in this book.  Placed beside the zombie infestation weirdness in Pontypool Changes Everything by Tony Burgess, for example, Lost Girls can only disappoint.







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ISSN 1494-6114. 


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