My Present Age


239 pages
ISBN 0-7715-9814-9




Reviewed by William Blackburn

William Blackburn is a professor of English at the University of


Ed, the hero of My Present Age, will be familiar to readers of Man Descending, a collection of short stories for which Mr. Vanderhaeghe won the Governor General’s Award in 1982. In this, Mr. Vanderhaeghe’s first novel, Ed is obese, on the wrong side of thirty, has been abandoned by his wife, Victoria, and has quit his job in Eaton’s china department. Learning that Victoria is pregnant, Ed heaves himself from the slough of self-pity in which he has been wallowing and sallies forth in search of her. He is accompanied in his quest by Stan Rubacek — a soi-disant ex-convict (and student in Ed’s creative writing class in night school) who wants Ed to edit his memoirs. The frequent hilarity of their search has a bittersweet flavour, however, as the wit and imagination with which Ed has heretofore insulated himself against reality begin to fail him. Beneath the frequent humour of this novel lies a dark sense of the tragicomic tangle of modern life, a sense delicately conveyed by Mr. Vanderhaeghe’s deft and sensitive prose and his keen ear for the nuances of dialogue. In My Present Age, he has produced a fine first novel; he gives every indication of the ability to go on and produce others.


Vanderhaeghe, Guy, “My Present Age,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 15, 2024,