The Video Watcher

Shawn Curtis Stibbards. Biblioasis (Consortium, U.S. dist.; UTP, Canadian dist.), $16.95 trade paper (189p) ISBN 978-1-77196-019-9
Trace Patterson, the main character in Stibbard's debut novel, is something of a nonentity, seeming passionless and without drive. The book opens in the late 1990s with Trace returning to his deceased parents' North Vancouver home for the summer following his first year at the University of British Columbia. But living with his Aunt Kris in the house is no safe haven: she's an aggressive part-time alcoholic who chides Trace for his own consumption and his sexuality, or lack thereof. He hangs out with two friends: Damien, who has, until recently, been in a psychiatric ward, and Cam, who is racist, violent, and girl-obsessed to the point of stalking. Trace spends much of his time navigating these extreme personalities but actually connects with no one. The novel's largest stumbling block is that Trace simply isn't given the development he needs. Frequent pop culture references reveal little. From Trace's interactions with others, readers piece together an image of someone who doesn't think much of himself, but still thinks far less of others—for example, he routinely refers to fat people by their size and never their names. To this end, he's a little like Holden Caulfield mixed with Clay from Bret Easton Ellis's Less Than Zero, only with less ambition. He's nothing readers haven't seen before. (July)
Reviewed on: 03/14/2016
Release date: 07/01/2015
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-77196-020-5
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