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The Garneau Block

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3.4 of 5 stars 3.40  ·  rating details  ·  218 ratings  ·  33 reviews
The Garneau Block follows the knowable citizens of the adored and hated city of Edmonton, capturing what we connect to in local stories and what is universal about modern life. Here, in what can only be described as a storytelling tour-de-force, we meet the warm, endearing, and delightfully flawed residents of a fictional cul-de-sac in the city’s Garneau neighbourhood just ...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published August 15th 2006 by McClelland & Stewart
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Canadian Fiction
139th out of 650 books — 442 voters
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116th out of 129 books — 26 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 381)
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Halo Peshdary
Before I begin this review, let me first acknowledge my positive bias towards this book. The Garneau Block’s setting is an eponymous fictional cul-de-sac located in Edmonton’s Garneau neighbourhood in Strathcona, a part of town known for its historicity. I happen to live in Edmonton’s Garneau neighbourhood, so it was a pleasure seeing the area I (proudly) call home faithfully recreated and represented on the page, and this made me enjoy the book immensely.

With that said, then, take this review a
...more
Leslie
If you're from New York or London or Paris or even Vancouver, you cannot know how marvellous it feels to have a story told about your place, the place where you live. Stories about Edmonton are rare--though slightly less so now than they were even a few years ago--there's a healthy and growing literary community here that thinks this is a place worth telling stories about. Babiak is one of those writers who tells stories about this place, and it's a treat to imagine these people moving about the ...more
Jason
It was fine. Lisa Moore provides a blurb on the back cover that says there is at least one laugh to be found on each page, but I didn't find them. It was certainly interesting to read a novel about a neighbourhood in which I spend a lot of my time, about places I go to often, but I wasn't feeling challenged or entertained by the characters or their stories.
Tina
The Garneau Block by Todd Babiak

When a book has been longlisted for the Giller prize and there is a fair bit of acclaim from various sources on the inside cover “at least one laugh on every single page”, then the reader has high hopes for a great read. The fact is, the story about the Garneau neighbourhood in Edmonton and the role of the residents to save their block from being repossessed by the university is truly inventive and quirky....throw in a killing, a mysterious sign that has been post
...more
Denele
Jan 24, 2013 Denele rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: my neighbours / Garneau residents
Recommended to Denele by: CBC Canada Reads
The Garneau Block follows a diverse collection of residents as they respond to the possibility of losing their homes to the University nearby. I found the characters to be delightful and relatable in their own way. There is the locally famous actor. The 30 year old pregnant girl who still lives in her parents’ basement and works a dead end job despite a university degree. The retired right-wing and left-wing political couple. The philosophy professor obsessed with death. And the quiet Indian bus ...more
Pooker
Mar 17, 2012 Pooker rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: we middle-class busy-body do-gooders
Shelves: fiction, canada
Well, I would not call this life changing literature, but it was a thoroughly entertaining read, start to finish.

I suspect that if I lived in Edmonton, I'd have been all that more entertained. But, as it was, being a typical middle-class busy-body myself, I was happy to snicker at the inanity of this cast of characters' exploits in attempting to "Fix it".

Seems a terrible tragedy occurred at 10 Garneau in Edmonton. A man killed himself. His wife and child moved away, leaving the place empty. The
...more
Holly
I enjoyed this book. It's the first one of Todd Babiak's that I've read, and I look forward to reading more of his writing. He knows how to write dialogue and really brings his characters to life through often witty descriptions. It was a treat to read a book that takes place in my city as well. He knows how to write about Edmontonians! I would definitely recommend this book to friends.
Corry
Living in Edmonton and knowing the area gives this book a special aspect, it feels familiar.
It is a most enjoyable, light read, with funny and weird people as the main characters and an even weirder event that brings them together to save their neighbourhood.
Gail Amendt
I loved this book, although it may be because I lived in Garneau during my university years, and my daughter lives there during the school year now. It was like a trip down memory lane for me. It references so many places that I remember. It is a nice light read about some delightfully quirky and flawed characters, and somewhat on the satirical side, but I suspect this story of a group of citizens trying to save their homes from expropriation by the university would not hold the attention of som ...more
Keith
Although the book sometimes shows its roots as a newspaper serial, nonetheless it served as a nice trip into a neighborhood I lived in as an undergraduate at the University of Alberta. For me it also demonstrated the power of memory in reading. I suppose people who live in cities that are regularly featured in books, New York and LA for example, grow used to having the familiar described but for those of use who grew up and live in cities that are not the usual locales of fiction there is a spec ...more
Poivree
The geography of this novel is captured authentically in this novel. There are several characters who have rather eccentric personalities but their stories fade away and leave me dissatisfied including the death in one of the houses, which gets quite a bit of ink. Maybe that is a consequence of serialization. Finally we have a Punjabi Canadian marrying a pregnant woman which I find questionable and Professor Terletsky's attempt to save the block by having it designated an historic site as our st ...more
Yooperprof
An assortment of middle-class Edmontonians fight to save their neighborhood from redevelopment as part of the local university's expansion project. They also go through a variety of personal experiences, in ways that clearly demonstrate their essential goodness and Canadian-ness.

I don't know if this whole "serialization in the local newspaper" idea is such a great idea. It seems to lend itself to shallow characterization and a smug local boosterism. Prior to "Garneau", I've read several of the c
...more
Lester
Hmmnn...I like the writing style and the story.
Checking out the writings of Todd Babiak after I heard him interviewed on CBC.
Kelly
A story about a collection of neighbours from Edmonton. I was caught up, for much of the story, in all of the descriptions of the city, the landmarks and such. It is so much fun to look for the familiar, trying to puzzle out where they were and what was a real place vs. fiction. The characters were full of life, slightly bizarre and hilarious.
Lynn Bornath
The residents of an Edmonton cul-de-sac join together in an effort to save their neighbourhood. I loved all of the characters, even the ones I didn't like, and I really enjoyed this book. Read the full review.
Kathleen Kole
As I am originally from Edmonton AB, I found this book both entertaining and a nice trip down memory lane. The characters are well written, the story line is unique, odd and compelling. I definitely was drawn into the story and wanted to keep reading. Would recommend it to a friend. :-)
Marlene Rohr
I found this book to be both entertaining and interesting as it is set in my hometown of Edmonton. Todd Babiuk, a former Edmonton Journal columnist has managed to bring attention to a neighborhood in Edmonton and bring it to life in this zany tale.
Margaret
A book meant primarily for Edmontonions. Erroneously compared to Alexander McCall Smith's 44 Scotland Street series, and Garrison Keillor's several books on Lake Wobegon. Don't bother slogging through it.
Monica
Local writer in my area and so I wasn't sure what to expect...but I found myself truly enjoying this book about a neighbourhood that I've come to know and love in real life as well as on the page.
Michele
The Garneau Block is a light, quirky read that made me nostalgic for Edmonton especially the areas downtown around the river valley where my sister and her husband hung out.
Natalie
Nov 03, 2008 Natalie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Natalie by: Dianne Kuspira
This was a very good way to connect with the neighborhood that I lived when in Edmonton. Brought back a lot of memories seeing it through someone else's eyes.
Nicole
I wouldn't call this a great book, but I enjoyed it enough that I'd like to read Babiak's other books. I wish my local newspaper had a serial like this one.
Kelly Macfarlane
It was fun to read a book set not only in Edmonton, but an area of Edmonton I'm familiar with. It was a light, fun read, with some interesting episodes.
Sarah
I found it petered out a little by the end, but otherwise a note-perfect satire of a certain segment of urban middle class Canadians.
Steph VanderMeulen
A thoroughly enjoyable and very funny read, the kind that makes you stay up long past your bedtime!
MESCA Book Club
Jan 11, 2009 MESCA Book Club added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to MESCA by: Trish
our last meeting with Trish before she moved away - we had humus and crackers and what else? who remembers?
Marsha
Thoroughly enjoyable! A fun read made more interesting by the local and incredibly specific setting.
Paula
Definitely worth the read. Quirky fun and different from other books. Loved the characters.
Heather
Not bad! It took a bit, but I grew to quite like the characters; quirky as they were.
Graham
Great book, as a local I really connected with this.
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When I think no one else is around, I conduct pretend orchestras.
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