Reissued as part of Anvil Press's Lost BC Literature series
Set in Vancouver in the mid-1960s, Mirror on the Floor focuses on one summer in the life of UBC grad student Bob Small and his roommate, George Delsing.
They spend their time carousing the downtown eastside and engaging in conversations with the old-timers—dockworkers, unemployed loggers, and retired seamen. They study, smoke cigarettes, endure tedious summer jobs, bombard one another with philosophical banter, and strike out on near nightly adventures in Small’s “poor old over-traveled yellow Morris Minor” to the pubs and late-night diners up and down East Hastings and along Main Street.
And it is on one such evening that Bob Small encounters a mysterious and troubled young woman outside the city lock-up. Her name is Andrea and he can’t seem to shake—or understand—the inexplicable attraction he feels for her; and from this night on, like a smoky apparition, Andrea is everywhere: the library, the coffee houses, the bars, the street, and Bob Small is slowly and inevitably pulled into her orbit, an orbit that spins on a tragic and ever-tightening inward coil.
Mirror on the Floor vividly evokes the Vancouver of the mid- to late-1960s, a Vancouver where neon signs still shimmered on the rain-soaked streets and Theatre Row bustled with excited movie-goers.
Originally published in 1967 by McClelland and Stewart, Mirror on the Floor was the first novel from an emerging young writer named George Bowering. Now with over 100 publications to his credit, we are proud to be reissuing Bowering’s debut novel.
Praise for Mirror on the Floor:
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"I have never read a novel which evoked the flavour of a Canadian city so successfully. Vancouver, the smell and feel of its fog, the beaches, the bridges, Stanley Park, the sleazy bars of the dock area are all absolutely there in a way that has been curiously difficult for other novelists to capture." (Phyllis Grosskurth, Saturday Night)
"His prose has a lilt and swing to it—here is a man who listens to the sounds of the words he writes." (Lorne Parton, Vancouver Province)
“… Mirror on the Floor is a novel about a place. A decade ago in France, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Michel Butor and other choseistes created a small revolution in fiction by transferring attention from the character to the environment. The human beings in their novels became, as it were, membranes to receive impressions of objects in the outer world; the objects and not the people were given solidity. The choseistes too were over-deliberate, and it is hard now to read a novel by Robbe-Grillet as anything but an intellectual exercise. What Bowering has achieved is a humanization of the choseiste approach. The principal presence in Mirror on the Floor is undoubtedly Vancouver, a living growth like coral, in and out of whose chambers the characters move like reef fish. But, like the fish, they live on equal terms with the environment, not originating their destinies, but, as we all do, assisting in their un- folding.” ” (George Woodcock, Canadian Literature)
Most Anticipated Fiction, 49th Shelf