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Verbatim: A Novel

Photo © by Beth Janzen. All rights reserved.


Here's what some readers are saying about it...

Wayne Johnston, author of The Colony of Unrequited Dreams: "Jeff Bursey has written a clever, highly innovative and highly readable novel. The satire is sharp, sometimes hilarious, the language perfectly suited to the subject -- Mr. Bursey has a pitch perfect ear. I hope this book finds the large audience it deserves."

Michelle Butler Hallett, author of Sky Waves: "As Andrew Jackson noted in his farewell address of March 4, 1837, 'eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty.' Verbatim: a Novel keeps that vigilance. Sophisticated technique and an almost hyper-realism shot through with deep comedy, individuals' failings and worst, best intentions, demand the reader recognize the foolery carried out by elected representatives. Ignoring such corruptions of democracy's ideal will only contribute to democracy's futher decay. An important book."

BUZZon: "...you realize that you are discovering much more than the wit (or lack thereof) of various speakers, you are actually discovering something about how we govern ourselves. Jeff's experimental approach to the novel works."
Read the full review here.

The Winnipeg Free Press: "Charles de Gaulle once remarked that politics is too serious a matter to be left to politicians. Newfoundland-born writer Jeff Bursey seems to agree: He gets right down to political brass tacks in his eccentric, sometimes ingenious debut novel." Read the full review here.

Arts East (December 2010): "An innovative and insightful narrative that is both an uproarious read and a scathing exposé of parliamentary practice in Atlantice Canada." Read the full review here.

Litlove - Tales from the Reading Room (December 2010): "...this is a very subtle narrative, one that produces a meditation on what a ‘true’ account of political speech looks like, but that also appears by its hyper-realism to offer politicians just the right amount of rope to hang themselves... [I]f politics is your thing, and if you have a taste for satire, then this would be just an ideal read, and whatever your level of curiosity about government, this remains a clever, witty and extremely unusual novel. To produce something unique and original in this tired age of the sequel and the repackage is pretty impressive." Read the full review here.

Corey Redekop, author of Shelf Monkey says: "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... As Bursey writes it, there are big, important issues out there, but when Parliament is in session, he who shouts the loudest and longest wins. This is hardly a new idea, but Bursey's inventiveness and integrity to the style and cause of his satire breathes new life into a stale theme... Bursey stuck to his guns on its form and narrative style, and should be applauded for the result... His presentation is perfect, the comedy subtle yet deep (with a few broad jibes thrown in). Verbatim is not an easy book to digest, and I fear its challenging nature will turn off potential readers; it is, however, damned fine at points, and overall deeply worthwhile." Read the full review here.

The Telegram (February 2011): Joan Sullivan reviews Verbatim: A Novel in The Telegram (St. John's, NL). Read the full review here.

Lee Thompson, author of S. a novel in [xxx] dreams says at Goodreads: "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 wealth of insight, a terrific ear for dialogue, and a book that's a grammarian's delight (e.g. the internal discussions on editorial style and the changes that are reflected on the page). For me this was a timely book, as I was reading it during the Canadian federal election, thinking that there are parallels here, with one's engagement in the book being not dissimilar to one's engagement in politics. Kudos to both author and publisher for taking chances. Hear, hear!". (June 2011)

Chris Benjamin, author of Drive-by Saviours says in The Coast: "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 and meaningless points of order as ruthless policies are passed with little recourse. Lip service is paid to the poor for the sake of political points in the next election, but until marginalized parties enter the fray it’s difficult to discern left from right. It’s a beautiful parody and an educational expose, though plot and character development would have reduced the slog factor in 294 pages of transcript. Still, Verbatim’s well worth the effort for political junkies and open-minded readers." (June 2011) Read the review here.

Arts East (21 May 2011): An interview with Jeff in Arts East. Read the full interview here.

David Hallett in Riddle Fence #8 [kind permission from both parties to put up this first page of the review; the rest to come later this summer]: Read the first page of the review here.

Joseph Dewey, writing in The Review of Contemporary Fiction, has good things to say here.

Mark Sampson, author of Off Book, reviews the novel on his website Free Range Reading.



"Interview" with Susan Johnston of CKCU's "Friday Special Blend" (broadcast 26 August 2011)

Listen to a podcast of an interview with Jeff Bursey conducted by Anne Strainchamps for To the Best of Our Knowledge, a program broadcast on National Public Radio, by clicking here.

Listen to a podcast of an interview of Jeff Bursey by Mack Furlong on Weekend Arts Magazine, CBC Radio, October 23, 2010. Thanks to Mack Furlong for being interested in the novel and for his interesting questions.
Copyright owned by CBC St. John's, Weekend Arts Magazine. Used with permission.

Listen to a podcast of an interview of Jeff Bursey and Beth Janzen by Stephen Patrick Clare on The Book Show, CKDU, January 25, 2011.
Used with permission.


Quotation and cover image from American Book Review. Used with thanks.

American Book Review: "Let the record also show that this is probably about the funniest intelligent book on politics you can get your hands on these days."
Sascha Pöhlmann

Novel won by...

Erik Pedersen (at right) answered a trivia question posed on the Hansard Association of Canada website. The prize was a free, autographed copy of Verbatim: A Novel. In November Rob Sutherland, head of the BC Hansard, presented the book to Erik. Thanks to everyone for participating, and for HAC and Enfield & Wizenty, the publisher, for coming up with the contest and providing the prize.