cover image The Education of Aubrey McKee

The Education of Aubrey McKee

Alex Pugsley. Biblioasis, $16.95 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-77196-583-5

In the muted second volume in a projected pentalogy (following Aubrey McKee), Pugsley depicts his 20-something protagonist’s new life in Toronto, where he’s moved from his native Halifax to begin graduate work in inorganic chemistry. Drama ensues when Gudrun Peel, a vivacious poet Aubrey met at a book party, shows up drunk at his apartment, slumps onto his couch, and unloads her fear that if she lands the book publicist job she’s just interviewed for, she’ll turn into a corporate drone. She accepts the job offer despite her reservations, and the two begin dating. As Aubrey tags along with Gudrun to book launches, he considers a literary life of his own and starts writing plays. The novel has an inventive structure, beginning with a short story set sometime in the future about Aubrey working as a writer on a sketch-comedy show and ending with a play by Aubrey about his wealthy friend Quincy, who’s described as the “hero in this period of my education” but is only briefly mentioned earlier in the narrative. Unfortunately, the substance of Aubrey’s education never quite materializes amid all the formal pyrotechnics. It’s Knausgård lite. Agent: Jennifer Hollyer, Jennifer Hollyer Agency. (May)