Created by Ann Diamond
— The Ariadine Agency’s motto
DAVID DENNINGS is a former hairdresser turned Montreal private eye who escapes the bone-chilling winter of his hometown by taking a case that eventually leads him to Venezuela in the post-modern (uh-oh) Dead White Males (2000), a surreal romp wherein the author trots out every P.I. trope she knows and blows it out of the water. The Antigonish Review described the standalone as “The Big Sleep meets Brazil meets Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.”
The thing is, David’s not exactly the world’s greatest detective (although he does know his hair), and after two years running the Ariadne Detective Agency, he’s facing both a mid-life and a financial crisis. So he jumps at the chance to track down Vera A. Utall, a femme fatale who’s left more than a few celebrities in her sexual wake, including cross-dressing (but drop-dead gorgeous) Nick Maggot and literary hotshot Orville Goner.
Despite possessing second sight, David often seems completely out of his league, and the case offers some truly dizzying and sometimes incomprehensible twists and turns, double-crosses, sexual shenanigans, pop culture shout-outs, literary namedropping and mermaids, as well as a chance for David to crack wise like he was some cut-rate Humphrey Bogart (with a little Truman Capote tossed in, for good measure). Now how much of this slo-mo po-mo brain-spinning you can take is up to you, but the cover isn’t too shabby, and the stylin’ P.I. fires off a few good ones.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Montrealer Ann Diamond graduated in History and Creative Writing from Concordia University, and studied fiction with Raymond Carver in the MFA program at Goddard College in Vermont. She later taught creative writing at Concordia and atThompson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia. Her long poem A Nun’s Diary was adapted for theatre by director Robert Lepage. She has published novels, a memoir (My Cold War), poetry collections and two collections of short fiction, and won the Hugh MacLennan Award for her short story collection Evil Eye. Her translations of the collected works of Bulgarian poet Kiril Kadiiski were published in Paris and Sofia in 2007 by Les esprits des péninsules and Les presses universitaires Saint-Clément d’Ohride. It doesn’t look like David Dennings will ever return.
- “The phone had not rung all week. I was sitting at my desk that day, pondering my bank statement and feeling very much like an ex-hairdresser in the midst of a mid-life crisis. Which was what I was. In the last two years, my trickle of customers had gradually decreased to a few droplets. My once-dazzling celebrity clientele had all been lured to other establishments whose marketing tactics were far beneath me. My reputation for being a busybody never really helped matters. What exactly were my options? Run away to some Third World country and work with lepers? That takes training, and I had only my skill with scissors and a box of business cards identifying me as David Dennings, Private Detective.”
- “Fiction has begun to bore me. It was ridiculous…making up stories about people when real life was…completely incomprehensible.”
— in other words, I dare you to criticize my book
- “… nutty, paranoid, messy and a great deal of fun. A must for Ann Diamond fans.”
— The Montreal Gazette
- “So I’ve finished Dead White Males and the most I can get out of it is that it’s a disguised rant on whatever Creative Writing department the author was a part of. I’m sure all the characters are based on people who under-appreciated her, and are as weird and unlikable as possible. It’s definitely not for the mainstream P.I.
reader. But the cover art is great.”
— Jeff Schofield
- “Dead White Males is one of those rare books that would, on a second reading, like the second viewing of a film, glean more fine detail and laughter.”
— James Moran (The Antigonish Review)
- “Dead White Males is more a hasty sketch of a novel than the thing itself. The crucial parts, the ones that might make it work for a reader, remain stuck in the author’s head… an hallucinatory labyrinth all right, but tripping in a maze gets tiresome if the author won’t give us enough thread to find our way through and out.”
— Will Aitken (2001, Montreal Review of Books)
- “The plot moves quickly between Canada and South America and between reality and whatever else is out there, so that the only thing the reader can do is let go and be taken along, laughing all the way.”
— Patty Osborne (Geist)
- Dead White Males (2000) | Buy this book
- C’est ma ville, aussi…
A listing of Montréal eyes.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith (Originally filed November 2003).