The Little Underworld of Edison Wiese


44 pages
ISBN 0-88947-413-3
DDC C813'.54






Reviewed by Douglas Ivison

Douglas Ivison is an assistant professor of English at Lakehead
University in Thunder Bay.


Cary Fagan has received a great deal of critical praise for his novels,
short-story collections, and children’s books. The Little Underworld
of Edison Wiese, a limited-edition work that is the first in a series
devoted to Canadian Jewish writing, lives up to his reputation.

Edison Wiese is an underachieving dreamer “who hadn’t grown up
properly” and gradually fell behind his contemporaries. Refusing to
move out of his parents’ home, he has been unable to hold down a job.
As the story begins, however, he has finally found a job working in a
café in an underground mall. His romantic imaginings of café culture
in places like Paris shape his perceptions of this dead-end,
minimum-wage job. As he opens the café each morning, he “can almost
believe that he is in the café of his imaginings, refuge of lost

The discrepancy between the café of Edison’s dreams and the one in
which he works is sadly pathetic until New Year’s Eve, when the café
gradually fills up with “lost souls”—lonely customers who have
been disappointed in their New Year’s Eve plans. For one night, at
least, the café in Fagan’s powerful fable is transformed from a place
of dreary banality into a vibrant and festive community.


Fagan, Cary., “The Little Underworld of Edison Wiese,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 19, 2024,