• Title: Cabbagetown
  • Author: Hugh Garner
  • ISBN: 9780070915527
  • Page: 303
  • Format: Paperback
  • Cabbagetown Had Hugh MacLennan been an anarcho syndicalist and a D H Lawrence devotee he might have written books like Cabbagetown a voluminous tale of depression era Canada that s arguably Hugh Garner s finest
    Had Hugh MacLennan been an anarcho syndicalist and a D.H Lawrence devotee, he might have written books like Cabbagetown, a voluminous tale of depression era Canada that s arguably Hugh Garner s finest novel First published in a bowdlerized edition in 1950, Cabbagetown is one of the few Canadian novels published before 1960 that is genuinely frank about sex and politics,Had Hugh MacLennan been an anarcho syndicalist and a D.H Lawrence devotee, he might have written books like Cabbagetown, a voluminous tale of depression era Canada that s arguably Hugh Garner s finest novel First published in a bowdlerized edition in 1950, Cabbagetown is one of the few Canadian novels published before 1960 that is genuinely frank about sex and politics, and as a result, it s one of the few literary artifacts of its time to dismantle the myth of Toronto the Good Set in Toronto s east end Cabbagetown neighbourhood the largest Anglo Saxon slum in North America, not the comfortable middle class enclave it has since become , Garner s novel begins on the eve of the Great Depression, with his teenage characters leaving school, finding paltry jobs, and attending half innocent kissing parties at their privileged friends homes The effects of the stock market collapse slowly begin to crush Cabbagetown s paltry economy, and Garner s characters the earnestly struggling Ken Tilling and the sometime love of his life Myrla Patson most prominent among them do what they can to survive Some turn to crime, prostitution, or wage slavery and others ride the rails, while one cynical social climber becomes a crypto fascist and government clerk Cabbagetown is chiefly notable as an alternative social history of Toronto There s nothing puritanical about Garner s novel in this Old Ontario, people cruise for sex in city parks, drink themselves to death, and lie, cheat, cuss, and steal for all they re worth It s also an Ontario rife with political struggle in one of the novel s most disturbing scenes, a gang of fascist youths attacks a party of picnicking Jews at Cherry Beach later, Ken Tilling finds his way into the Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War As literary art, Cabbagetown is decidedly second tier Readers who have yet to read Norman Levine s By a Frozen River or Canada Made Me shouldn t turn to Garner just yet Nonetheless, its brutal honesty makes it a consistently rewarding novel, and far than a mere historical curiosity Jack Illingworth

    One Reply to “Cabbagetown”

    1. Many facets of this book are just wonderful -- and I'm so glad I read it -- but man, is it depressing! Perhaps it is redundant to state that a book about a Toronto slum during the Depression is "depressing". As such, it is a fantastic representation of the era and the struggles of the time. My continued hope that things would turn around for the protagonists proved fruitless; however, I couldn't put the book down. I loved experiencing all the locales I frequent on a daily basis in a historical s [...]

    2. One of my favourite Canadian authors, and he knows whereof he speaks. Fiction but partly autobiographical. Cabbagetown was a Toronto slum during the depression. Garner grew up there, and spent time riding the rails across both Canada and the US, serving in the Spanish Civil War, and serving in a Canadian Navy Corvette escorting convoys across the Atlantic during WWII before becoming an author so successful he could support himself by writing (a real feat for a Canadian in the 1950's). I hadn't r [...]

    3. Fantastic coming of age story. A well organized and beautifully written, if tragic, example of modernist realism. It can be a bit of a challenge to keep track of all of the characters at the beginning, but it's worth the effort. Particularly noteworthy: the examination of how our communities shape our identities, the politics of power and the question of whether Ken is a hero or anti-hero.

    4. Unbelievably, I actually truly enjoyed this book. Instead of being a boring historical read, I was actually caught up in the lives of a handful of people living in Cabbagetown at the time of the depression.

    5. Heart touching story of Cabbagetown, Toronto, during the depression. Shows the lives of a group of friends as they deal with their world day to day.Always thought it would make a great Sullivan movie or miniseries.I've re-read it a dozen times over the years. Highly recommend it.

    6. This is just such a good book! It was obliquely referenced in one of my textbooks, and I am so grateful I picked it up. It represents how astoundingly good comtemporary Canadian fiction can be.

    7. Ending felt a bit off the beginning and middle were what felt like real and raw stories of coming of age in the Depression.

    8. I picked this book up to research life in early 20th Century Canada and read their linguistic patterns, but I found myself in the midst of a great book. Although some have described this book as Canada's Grapes of Wrath, the story has its own merits. I found myself liking Garner's characters so much, that I was flipping the pages to find out what happened to them. I associated with the search for some answers that the main character, Ken Tilling, was doing in this story, and the relevance of the [...]

    9. A rambling story of the Depression era in a low income part of Toronto, Cabbagetown, a neighbourhood that is only now finding its feet in the renaissance of mega construction and renovation going on in Canada’s largest city.I was drawn to this story as I am an occasional resident of the Old Cabbagetown described in this novel, an area that became a bigger eyesore when it turned into Regent Park in the 1950’s, and has only now turned the corner thanks to a huge revitalization project, while t [...]

    10. "With the spring Cabbagetown came outdoors again, and the streets were alive in the evenings with the noise of children. The little girls began their skipping, afraid as yet to do Double Dutches or Salt, Vinegar, Peppers, content to start again with the old single slow-moving ropes."So begins the book. The story is written well, if very plainly. The cover suggests this to be Canada's version of The Grapes of Wrath, and it's not, but I found it similar to Brooklyn. A simply told story that adds l [...]

    11. This was a very moving and historical book centered on the lives of a few children growing up in Cabbagetown, Toronto during the Great Depression.Kenneth Tilling and Myrla Patson are the two main characters who face the troubles and hardships of growing up in poverty. Since he was small, Ken lived alone with his alcoholic mother. He quits school at 16 and tries to earn enough money to sustain his family. He meets Myrla at her birthday party and is smitten by her beauty. They both go their separa [...]

    12. Good Read about that section of Toronto during the Depression. My Mom & Dad grew up, one in Cabbagetown and one in the better parts. It reminds me of some of the stories. Everyone should know how things were in the Depression, It can come again.

    13. I enjoyed this book - it helps that I live in Toronto, where it's set. The writing wasn't great, but you do care about the characters and it's very evocative of the period that it's set in. Worth a read, especially if you know Toronto.

    14. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Well-written, non-judgemental and surprisingly progressive, seeing as it was written in the 50s.

    15. Great insight into a beautiful neighborhood in Toronto that wasn't always as desirous as it is today.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *