A similar example, albeit on a far smaller scale, of the part illuminating the whole is Gerald Lynch's Troutstream (Random House, 256 pages, $27.95 cloth). Lynch's literary territory is a fictional Ottawa suburb called Troutstream-an "ordinary place" but only on the surface.
There is a serial killer murdering young girls in the community; the attendant sense of evil is felt in various ways by the residents. And what a strange cast of characters these are! Some narrate chapters from their own perspective, a technique Lynch uses effectively, while others appear only as seen by others. There's the bar owner who churns out weekly propaganda in support of his favourite political party. There's the Elvis-obsessed teacher who is convinced Elvis is alive and refers to him fondly as the "Vegas Porker". Then there's the housing project voyeur and his friend, who spends his life watching TV and pontificating on what he sees there. There's a psychic tea-leaf reader, a twelve-year-old girl who shows up a bigshot politician on TV, and a graduate journalism student at Carleton University. The list goes on.
Lynch has been quoted as saying that Troutstream is a novel about a place where an "ugly incident has occurred, a murder, and everything that happens in the town relates to that incident. One of my purposes was to show we're all implicated in these horrible events and to make humour part of the reaction to horror." It is a truism that probably more than anything it is people who make a place, and this is certainly evident in Troutstream; the characters' perverse comedies of the soul provide the dark humour that permeates the book.