“I read about it in Maclean’s.”

I”m reading The Parabolist by Nicholas Ruddock, a highly-acclaimed first novel set in Toronto in the seventies that follows a small group of medical students and their interaction with a Mexican poet (from whence the title comes.)  Ruddock is a family physician in Guelph, Ontario, and I’ve been enjoying the story, not just for the subject matter but for the setting in my adopted city.

The Toronto references are fun, as are the characterizations of the players.  Sometimes they intersect.  An older couple, parents of two brothers who are in the same class at the medical school, live on Glengrove and the are neighbours to the poet, who lives with his aunt and uncle.  One afternoon, the husband looks out an upper storey window and, peering into the neighboring backyard, sees the poet on the receiving end of a sexual act.  Late on that afternoon, while weeding his garden, we read

The professor began to feel more composed.  He turned his thoughts from Roberto Moreno and the girl to their own bedroom, June lying beside him in the night as they talked and talked as all parents did, the mahogany bed inlaid with mother-of-pearl.  They slept and sometimes made love, almost always in the dark, and then he realized, had she seen what he had seen, he could have said to her, to June, wasn’t that interesting, what people will do these days, outside?


And she might have said, yes, dear, but I think it’s something they do more of these days, oral sex.  I read about it in Maclean’s.

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