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Verbatim: A Novel

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  34 ratings  ·  21 reviews
Verbatim is a blackly humorous exposé of parliamentary practice in an unnamed Atlantic province. The dirty tricks, vicious insults, and inept parliamentary procedures of the politicians are recorded by a motley crew of Hansard employees. But when the Hansard bureaucrats begin to emulate their political masters, the parliamentary system’s supposed dignity is further strippe ...more
Paperback, 376 pages
Published December 15th 2017 by Verbivoracious Press (first published September 1st 2010)
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Jeff Bursey Alex, thanks for this question. I finished writing the book in 1995. It came out in 2010 so it pre-dates Frank Underwood by some years. It's not conce…moreAlex, thanks for this question. I finished writing the book in 1995. It came out in 2010 so it pre-dates Frank Underwood by some years. It's not concentrated on personalities but on the process of governing - which Underwood describes occasionally - as seen from the outside, much like when you can only see or hear the surface of a politician and have to come to conclusions on your own. Hope that helps.(less)
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Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
I’ve found myself reading some Gaddis criticism over the weekend. Which reminds me, if you go for that kind of Oral Realism which only Gaddis can do like Gaddis, and but you want to read a Canadian who can give Gaddis a serious run for that Title, then please, allow me to reiterate my High Five Recommendation of Bursey’s Verbatim. Seriously, don’t miss this one.

Finally found my way back into that kind of thing. I’ve read some nice novels in recent months, some important stuff, so
Scribble Orca
aN iRksome GADfly IS made me do it!

This is the most abject, banal, caustic, deceitful, elegant, frustrating, grim, heinous, insouciant, jaded, kleptomanic, levitous, maddening, noxious, operatic, pedantic, querulous, rigorous, satirical, tantalising, underhanded, vicious, wrathful, xenagoguic, yex-inducing, zealous book-that-is-not-a-book-that-is-a-book that you will likely read. Ever.
I’ve been lamenting the lack of writers who can rely on more than just imagination about the real world of business, commerce, and politics. Then Jeff Bursey comes along to prove me wrong.

Verbatim uses the format of Hansard, the transcript record of Parliamentary debates, to make some trenchant comments on politics, both on the national stage and in the office. It tackles what is one of the most compelling, at least to me, questions of our antediluvian age: How do you get people to act in the i
[Requisite Disclaimer: Yes, I am friends with the author, Jeff Bursey, on Goodreads. Yes, he initially seduced me with his pulsating braincenter before reading Verbatim in the form of an escalating and frankly erotic virtual epistolary. And yes, fine, Jeff and I may indeed be living off the grid in a yurt in the northernmost wilds of Manitoba with our illegitimate albino lovechild, Randy Jung-un. What of it? Judge not lest…However—No, I did not receive a copy of this book free for review. No, I ...more
MJ Nicholls
Inventive in form and brimful of subtle political satire, Verbatim is a novel of Swiftian dimensions and napalms the hypocrisies and idiocies of politicians, the bureaucratic process, and the world of Hansard transcription. I suffered fatigue completing the novel, perhaps due to decades of saturation in British political satire, which this resembles in style (knowing nowt about Canadian political satire), and thought perhaps a shorter work might have delivered a more satisfying blast. Quibbles a ...more
W.D. Clarke
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Verbatim: A Novel makes for, among its other virtues, a thorough disemboweling of the parliamentary system—and thereby of this reader, who had had high hopes of, erm, "representing" Erehwon Centre for the Paleoliberal Pale People's Party until encountering Mr. Bursey's documentary, which acted upon yours truly the way that certain films and medications modified Alex's (of A Clockwork Orange fame) dreams of an uninterrupted, unprecedentedly unrestrained spree of the ol' ultraviolence.

Cos even a c
Jeff Bursey
Jul 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Of course I like it.

But others do too, as you can read here. Just out (November 2011) is this great review from The Review of Contemporary Fiction:
+ + + +

Jeff Bursey. Verbatim: A Novel. Enfield & Wizenty, 2010. 294 pp. Cloth: $29.95.

Conventional wisdom holds that political satire should be like an acupuncturist's needle—therapeutic, carefully directed, finely honed, and, most importantly, short. After all, who would endure an acupuncture spear? Of course, unconventional political satirists—Gaddi
Simon Robs
Nov 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
This ‘United Stateser’ (it’s in the novel) just finished fellow Goodreads author Jeff Bursey’s first novel “Verbatim: A Novel” and now it’s time to dish, re-view, or more generally riff on what return to reading investment is likely for ya’ll other samplers. Is it a novel? Yes, of course it is, however unconventional, experimental or morphological in format bending. It reads like a technical transcript of collaged memos and parliamentary proceedings over the course of a year from some fictitious ...more
Ian "Marvin" Graye

(Oh, editor, where art thou?) Intermittently lyrical. The quality of the creativity and innovation regularly falls beneath the author's aspirations. Better might be possible...if not necessarily by the same author's hand. The stuff of coterie publishers. It's no Venus de Milo.


The Deputy Speaker:

There are about four minutes remaining in the time provided for private members' business.

Ms. Linda LaPointe (Rivière-
Rick Harsch
Dec 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm unprepared for this, as I meant to make final comments in the in-the-process of reading segment.
But I can't do worse than the members of parliament I just read, who are the characters in Bursey's book, and who are, as characters also not characters, for the realism of the novel is verbatim. Verbatim. They are Hansard held, recorded not depicted; if on occasion they break free, attempt to break free, Bursey flings the rules of Hansard at them, and they are back in the real world of the precis
One for the politicos, the Gaddis readers and fans of interpersonal backstabbing and trickery.

A pairing of language that captures the essence of the house immaculately and creates a living breathing province with MPs at the ready to take the piss out of each other in the most (and sometimes not at all) parliamentary fashion, combined with the interpersonal conspiracies of Gaddis (as opposed to the bizarre big corporation conspiracies of Pynchon), make this well worth the read.

Verbatim eases you
Andrew Sare
Jul 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hear, hear!

This gave me nightmares. I work in government, so it led me to dream of odd politically generated work scenarios.

Written in Hansard transcript, the style of which changes ever so subtly according to infighting amongst the editors, was incredibly inventive. This book was so hyper real. The dry humour and parliamentary barbs amongst the elected members seemed so probable - from what I’ve read in Hansard over the years.

It’s a true original, for sure.
A challenging, difficult, and rewarding novel. Partisan politics is clearly displayed in its own words to be a bankrupt system, and the need for some kind of replacement is brilliantly articulated in the course of the work. It is a novel without a narrative voice composed entirely of transcripts, the Hansard record of an imaginary Canadian province, interspersed with administrative memos, all of which demonstrate the tremendous amount of backroom intrigue that characterizes, one suspects, the d ...more
Michelle Hallett
Jul 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Garry Trudeau, who writes and draws _Doonesbury_, comments that a satire is totally unfair -- to the target. Trudeau the satirist feels no pangs of guilt and enjoys his job as satirist with relish, even glee.

With Bursey's _Verbatim: A Novel_, it gets hard to say where the hyper-realism of memos, notes and transcriptions ends and the satire begins. I expect this delicious ambiguity is deliberate, like so much else in the novel, deliberate and thematically relevant. Of the many human flaws, selfi
Lee Thompson
Feb 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps the first novel told through parliamentary debates, Verbatim is presented as a Hansard document (the organisation that transcribes the debates), and is interspersed by office memos and letters between the new Hansard director and various staffers and parliamentary officials– which surprisingly creates tension as the novel develops. Instead of over-the-top situations which many other writers may have chosen, Bursey chooses subtle satire here, and yet there's no shortage of humour, a wealt ...more
Marek Waldorf
Sep 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As exhaustive an inventory of political pettifoggery as anybody in his or her right mind could hope for, Jeff Bursey’s Verbatim perches on my shelf between ingenious literary feat & obsessive-compulsive art object. The book is lovingly produced by Enfield & Wizenty, a scrupulously faked record of legislative proceedings in an unnamed Atlantic province. With nothing but transcripts & email exchanges, Bursey builds his book from the sentence up, applying the Gaddis ear for speech-as-broken to a pr ...more
Nov 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bursey's reproduction of speech patterns and over-the-top hyperbole of Canadian parliament filtered through the arcane editorial processes of Hansard is note-perfect (I particularly love that, as in real life Hansard transcripts, bits of random hubbub by members are reported as "Some Hon. Members: Oh! Oh!" and "Some Hon. Members: Resign! Resign!"). As the members of each party repeatedly attack and mock the other, the statements prove that Parliament is, like most institutions, hardly a step abo ...more
May 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Verbatim: A Novel, lacks the structure, plot, character development and slow-building tension that typically define the genre. It is a series of chronological fake Hansard transcripts perfectly replicating the real thing in style and content, interspersed with occasional bureaucratic memos. What makes it more readable than actual parliamentary transcripts is the biting satire, its awareness of its own absurdity. Elected officials in a fictional Maritime province engage in high-culture trash talk ...more
I have absolutely no idea how to rate this novel. One of the things I do for a living is far too close to the subject matter for me to have a clue how other people will find it. So I'll say I found parts of it funny, and many events in it cringe-inducing and entirely plausible, but no star rating from me. ...more
Jan 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A brilliant novel. Innovative form - told in Hansard debates, letters, and lists of legislative members. Experimental. Satisfying. Tragic. Darkly hilarious at times. Very imaginative. Politics and human nature are the broad themes, but the book goes deep into the meaning of language, truth, and justice. Low and high. Loved it.
Sep 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book, but it was difficult to get through, I must admit.

It is packed with humor and I laughed out loud a few times - quite a few times. But, the denseness of the content was a bit daunting, and I had trouble with where the story was going.
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Jake Stillwell
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Jeff Bursey is a Canadian novelist, short story writer, playwright and literary critic.

His books are: Verbatim: A Novel (hardcover, October 2010; paperback, February 2018); Mirrors on which dust has fallen (June 2015); Centring the Margins: Essays and Reviews (July 2016); Unidentified man at left of photo (September 2020).

His webpage is:

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