221 pages
ISBN 0-9691487-0-4






Reviewed by Gildas Roberts

Gildas Roberts is a university professor of English at the Memorial
University of Newfoundland.


This is an exceptionally well written novel. With gusto and an exhilarating pace it follows the adventures of one Ken Harrison as he passes his copulating, masturbating, balding, and insomniac way through suburban high school and small-town university in Ontario. Its chief concern is sex: the joys, wild absurdities, hideous embarrassments, and earth-shattering sorrows that a more-than-average sexual drive bestows upon a young contemporary male.

Insights into “life” abound, but above all it is a very funny novel. It makes you laugh, and laugh uproariously. A delightful irreverence is directed at both jock and intellectual; and smug suburbia comes in for its customary licks. The suburban husband whose chief joy is in visiting Canadian Tire stores and the proud housewife who is a compulsive wielder of Javex are memorable vignettes.

Goldenrod seems to have been a long time in the writing: on page 151 the wars in Vietnam and Biafra are referred to as contemporary events, while on page 187 we are told that we are in “the eighties... the greatest decade of the century.” It also seems to have been self-published, which is no surprise: the Ontario publishing establishment that has Pierre Berton as the jewel in its crown would have great difficulty in finding a place for Peter Gault. There are frequent echoes of Philip Roth and J.D. Salinger: indeed, one of the puffs printed on the back cover of the book (a spoof, like the laudatory foreword written by the “Dean of Arts, University of Bracebridge”?) calls Ken Harrison the Holden Caulfield of the ‘80s. Peter Gault hasn’t reached Salinger’s standard yet, but with a little more experience and, above all, encouragement, he will come pretty close.


Gault, Peter, “Goldenrod,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 24, 2024,