Categories: Fiction

The Bank Street Peeper By Erma Odrach

Once in a blue moon a novel like this chances upon us. With its treasure trove of spellbinding characters, it redefines our view of ourselves and the world. Erma Odrach has written a classic for our era.

The events in The Bank Street Peeper are set in Toronto, but they defy the constrictions of time and place. There is a richness in descriptive detail which makes them come alive. If at first taken aback by Reginald’s voyeurism, a sort of game he engages in to heal his grief of loneliness, as we inch towards the end of the book, we are worrying for his well-being and cheering for his ultimate happiness. With his more than ample share of tragic flaws and foibles, through the author’s deft illustration of human character, Reginald Rutley will forever hold a special place in our hearts.

Everything on Bank Street has an organic feel to it. It all seems so real. In closing the last
page of the story, we don’t feel sad as we usually would when coming to the end of a book. Instead, we are overtaken by a sense of contentment and gratitude for Reginald’s turn of events.

If we close our eyes, we can imagine all the people living on Bank Street, in their respective
houses we got to know so well through the eyes of Reginald’s nightly peeping. It all comes to life as we remember it: the street signs, the bushes, the gardens and lawns, the red brick Victorian houses with their old porches, the little old specialty shops, the moon and stars by night, the sun, mists and rains by day, and of course all the people, like us, each with their own story. And it is here that this novel surpasses the ordinary. Each woman, man and child in the book, if at first believing themselves to be much luckier than Reginald, are cast by destiny in life circumstances often similar or worse than his. This is perhaps what gives his voyeurism its edge. No one is absolved from life’s griefs. No matter how things appear on the outside, we are all struggling with something. Reginald is not alone in his pain, although he believes that. He is like all of us. He is us. We are all human and imperfect, after all.

This novel has been likened to a fairy tale or a Fellini movie. Indeed, it is a beautifully written,
dream-like, captivating story that will live on in our imaginations long after we have put the
book down. Kudos Erma Odrach for this eloquent tour de force.

Erma Odrach is an author and literary translator living in Canada. Alaska or Bust and Other Stories was published by Crimson Cloak Publishing, Missouri, 2017. Her translation of the novel Wave of Terror (by her late father, Theodore Odrach, dealing with the Stalinist occupation, WWII) was published by Chicago Review Press, 2008. Her translation of the Village Teacher and Other Stories, also by her father, was published by Glagoslav Publications, 2022. She won an honourable mention from the Translation Center at Columbia University for a book of stories. Her work has appeared in magazines such as Connecticut Review, Scrivener, The New Quarterly, Antigonish Review, Yukon, North of Ordinary, Penguin Book of Christmas Stories (ed. Alberto Manguel), Translation – Columbia Univ. and many more.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Adelaide Books (Nov. 19 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 304 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1955196834
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1955196833
Josie Di Sciascio-Andrews

Josie Di Sciascio-Andrews is a poet, author, teacher and host & coordinator of the Oakville Literary Cafe Series. Her latest book of poems, Meta Stasis, was released in July 2021 by Mosaic Press. Her collection of local poems and photography, Sunrise Over Lake Ontario, was launched in 2019. Her previous poetry publications include: Sea Glass, The Whispers of Stones, The Red Accordion, Letters from the Singularity and A Jar of Fireflies. Josie’s poetry has been shortlisted for the Malahat Review’s Open Season Award, Descant’s Winston Collins Prize, The Canada Literary Review, The Eden Mills Literary Contest and The Henry Drummond Poetry Prize. Her poetry has won first place in Arborealis Anthology Contest of The Ontario Poetry Society and in Big Pond Rumours Literary E-Zine. Some of her poems feature on The Niagara Falls Poetry website. One of her pieces was included by Priscila Uppal in Another Dysfunctional Cancer Poem Anthology, Mansfield Press, in 2018, rated by Chatelaine Magazine as one of the best Canadian poetry books of 2018. Josie is the author of two non-fiction books: How the Italians Created Canada (the contribution of Italians to the Canadian socio-historical landscape) and In the Name of Hockey ( a closer look at emotional abuse in boys’ sports.) Josie teaches workshops for Poetry in Voice and for Oakville Galleries. She writes and lives in Oakville, Ontario.

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