28 May 2018

A Publisher's Worst Book?



A sunny weekend in St Marys was made brighter still when I finally finished Arctic Rendez-vous, the sixth novel by part-time pilot and sometime novelist Keith Edgar.

Now all I have to do is write a review of the damn thing.


Arctic Rendez-vous ranks in the lower tier of Canada's post-war pulps. The early pages are by far the most interesting, taking its hero, Taffy Calhoun, from chatting up a young lady in the Imperial Room of Toronto's Royal York Hotel, to a tense business meeting at the Bank of Commerce Building.


Things then shift to the Arctic archipelago... where my interest waned.

I would've given up on Arctic Rendez-vous had not been the errors – the many errors – that plagued the book. Something of a surprise, they kept me going because I'd long considered the novel's publisher, Collins White Circle, to be the most competent producer of Canadian post-war paperbacks. I've read White Circle editions of Ralph Connor, Hugh Garner, Stephen Leacock, and David Montrose, but never encountered anything nearly inept.

Ignoring typos – "riffe" for "rifle" is one example – let's look at the title: Arctic Rendez-vous. The title page and back cover have it as "Arctic Rendezvous."

This, I'm willing to overlook – hell, no less a publisher than Penguin got the title wrong with no less an author than Brian Moore – but then comes the back cover copy:


"Here is the story of a man and a woman, savage and elemental, matching their hatred and a strange attraction in a race for a guilty secret and sunken fortune..."

In fact, the fortune is not sunken, though there are several pages in which Taffy believes that might be the case. The "ghost-ship Baychimo" doesn't feature in the novel. Taffy and Marta are racing to reach the Unaikto, a fictional ship that was abandoned after becoming icebound.

This is not to say that there was no Baychimo. It was abandoned in 1931, the very same year as the fictional Unaikto. A ghost-ship, it was last seen in 1969.


That's Marta being groped on the cover.

Her hair should be black.


Her breasts should be conical.

More anon.

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