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The Dominion of Wyley McFadden

Scott Gardiner

55 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 067931041X / ISBN 13: 9780679310419
Published by Random House of Canada
Used Condition: As New Hardcover
From Silver Arch Books (St Louis, MO, U.S.A.)

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Dominion of Wyley McFadden

Publisher: Random House of Canada

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:As New

About this title


An eccentric ex-fertility doctor's quest to redress geo-zoological discrimination in Canada takes an unexpected twist when he meets up with a mysterious hitchhiker.

After months of painstaking preparation, Wyley McFadden is finally ready to carry out an outlandish scheme. In what looks remarkably like an ordinary camper van, McFadden is transporting a secret cargo -- one he's been accumulating for the better part of a year -- from Toronto to Alberta. But just past the town of Wawa, off the eastern flank of Lake Superior, in the midst of miles and miles of aspen and conifer, he spots a girl in a tennis outfit on the side of the road. Hopping from one foot to the other, bending in oddly rhythmic intervals and waving her arms, she appears to be performing some exotic dance. But as McFadden gets closer, he realizes she is being eaten alive by mosquitoes and black flies, and he slows to pick her up.

Fearful, starving and exhausted, the girl doesn't seem to know where she's headed and refuses to explain how she came to be hitchhiking in the middle of the bush. She wards off McFadden's questions by asking him about his own past. But once McFadden has revealed his secrets, including the purpose of his peculiar mission, the girl can no longer avoid telling him her own shocking and terrifying story.

By turns playful and disturbing, The Dominion of Wyley McFadden is a daring first novel full of surprises.


2001 in Canada First Novel Award Shortlist: The province of Alberta is free of rats, a state of affairs that Wyley McFadden finds smug and offensive. Which explains why he is driving across the Canadian Shield in a custom-built camper van filled with provisions (a selection of fine wines and lagers, suitable condiments, roasted pigeons and squirrels he trapped himself), a young traveling companion he has been plotting to ditch ever since he picked her up alongside the highway, and a fragile rodent cargo, caged and outfitted for the long trip to Edmonton.

The Dominion of Wyley McFadden, Scott Gardiner's funny and ambitious debut, is a road novel driven by the sort of garrulous, obsessive voice that propels the novels of tragicomic masters like Stanley Elkin, Robert Kroetsch, and Charles Portis. McFadden rants (he's a fed-up federalist), he digresses (he knows more than you want to about, say, the Game and Fish Act), he self-justifies (he had perfectly good reasons for doing the things that got him barred from the practice of medicine), all with a charming mix of the fastidious and the impulsive. His hitchhiking passenger, knowing her quarry, fends off his questions about her past (and her name) by slowly drawing his story out as they drive west. It's not an entirely smooth ride (some of Wyley's longer lectures test a reader's patience, and toward the novel's end Gardiner attempts to burden Wyley's story with a moral weight it can't bear, and doesn't really deserve), but it's an enjoyable, rambling treat. --Tom Nissley

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