Bruce Graham has created in Duddy McGill a memorable comic protagonist. First introduced in the novel Ivor Johnson’s Neighbours (Pottersfield Press), published in 2004, Duddy is a rural odd-job man whose “work” causes disaster to those unwise enough to hire him.
We first encounter him as he is being sued because a “clothesline platform”—the erecting of which is supposed to be Duddy’s specialty—gives way and injures its owner. Duddy decides to conduct his own defence, and, as his career spirals downwards, his long-suffering wife, Minnie, leaves him.
The tone of Duddy Doesn’t Live Here Anymore is unashamedly hokey, a re-creation of a simpler, sunnier and funnier time—shades of a Norman Rockwell painting come to life in prose. As such, it’s an impressive piece of work. Duddy’s voice, and those of his comrades and enemies, is very consistent, and the humour successfully walks the fine line—like the writings of PG Wodehouse or Ted Russell—where absurdity is never edged with cynicism.
Duddy Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
by Bruce Graham
$19.95, paperback, 190 pp.
Pottersfield Press, July 2013