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The Garneau Block

3.36  ·  Rating Details ·  278 Ratings  ·  41 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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May 04, 2015 Leslie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 07, 2013 Tina rated it it was ok
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
Nov 11, 2014 Jason rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian
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.
Mar 08, 2017 Donna rated it it was ok
Lisa  Shamchuk
Mar 03, 2017 Lisa Shamchuk rated it really liked it
This quirky novel is chock full of Edmonton references, which only adds to its charm!
Ronald Kelland
Jan 24, 2016 Ronald Kelland rated it liked it
I wanted to give this book a three-and-a-half star rating, but I have to choose from three or four star. It deserves better than three, but I just cannot give it a full four. The book is set on the Garneau neighborhood near the University of Alberta, an area I know well from working as a conservation historian based on the campus (but not affiliated with the university). The book captures the sense of place of Garneau and by extension the Whyte Ave/Old Strathcona area well, particularly the slig ...more
Mar 10, 2012 Pooker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: we middle-class busy-body do-gooders
Shelves: canada, fiction
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
Nov 29, 2012 Denele rated it really liked it
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
Virginia Van
Originally serialized in the Edmonton Journal in the fall of 2005 , this comic and satrical novel follows the lives of a gorup of quirky but enderaing inhabitants of the Garneau Block, a cul-de-sac in an Edmomtom neighbourhood which has been scarred by the hostage taking and suicide of a local resident. When teh university threatens to repossess all the houses. the residents are galvanized to try to fix things - in tehir own pecular way. Charcaters include a university philosophy professor fired ...more
Gail Amendt
Aug 12, 2011 Gail Amendt rated it really liked it
Shelves: hfu2014ba
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
Nov 14, 2015 Gloria rated it liked it
Eccentrics do live near universities. This story, set in the university area of Edmonton, Alberta, revolves around the fate of a house where a murder has taken place. A quite pathetic fired professor is taken up and supported by the neighbourhood in his endeavour to save the house from demolition by making it into a museum devoted to the inner mythic essence, as symbolized by a bison head. This seems weird, and it is, but it does rally the residents. In working through this project the residents ...more
Dec 06, 2007 Keith rated it really liked it
Shelves: canadiana, fiction, 2008
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
Aug 25, 2011 Yooperprof rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, canada
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
Sep 23, 2016 Laini rated it really liked it
I've tried reading various Canadian fiction authors, and up til now, I've gotten a lot of bleak Maritime fishing villages, bleak Indian villages, bleak prairie villages, stark wintry landscapes, or bleak dystopian futures. Don't get me wrong-- I don't mind those things, but I have to be in the mood to do it. I'm not as literary as some, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

I'm happy to say that I've finally found a Canadian writer (local even!) whose work I will happily pick up again because it's fu
Dec 28, 2013 Poivree rated it liked it
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
Oct 15, 2016 Brenda rated it liked it
I think this novel was somewhat in the tradition of Stuart Mclean's stories on the Vinyl Cafe, as well as the stories on American public radio, by Garrison Keillor. The stories take place in Edmonton, and are the story of a small neighbourhood, The Garneau block slated to be taken over by the university to make way for a veterinary college.
The main characters who are slightly whimsical, but still believable come together to attempt to stop the university.
Sometimes slow going, but enjoyable.
Dec 26, 2015 Evelyn rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015
While it was fun to read a book set in my hometown, I have to say that the plot became more and more unbelievable as I worked through the pages. Too bad. I remember reading the first instalments as they were published in The Journal. I did not care for it then because it just seemed like an opportunity to "name drop". Now, many years later, it was fun. But I would not recommend it unless you have lived in YEG.
Apr 20, 2013 Kelly rated it really liked it
Shelves: borrowed-it, canadian
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.
Jul 10, 2015 Holly rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
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.
Lynn Bornath
Feb 11, 2010 Lynn Bornath rated it really liked it
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.
Feb 14, 2013 Margaret rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
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.
Apr 14, 2015 Corry rated it liked it
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.
Marlene Rohr
Apr 19, 2013 Marlene Rohr rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
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.
Kathleen Kole
May 11, 2011 Kathleen Kole rated it liked it
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. :-)
Nov 03, 2008 Natalie rated it really liked it
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.
Aug 12, 2013 Paula rated it really liked it
Definitely worth the read. Quirky fun and different from other books. Loved the characters.
MESCA Book Club
May 02, 2008 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?
Jan 12, 2016 Lael rated it really liked it
A fun and entertaining read.
Apr 26, 2009 Monica rated it liked it
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.
Steph VanderMeulen
Feb 05, 2013 Steph VanderMeulen rated it really liked it
A thoroughly enjoyable and very funny read, the kind that makes you stay up long past your bedtime!
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