The Chocolate Man:
A Novel

by Jeremy Fox,
187 pages,
ISBN: 0920953891

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First Novels - Handicap, Hackles, Hong King, Horror
by Eva Tihanyi

Literature is an opportunity to peer into the minds of other human beings, even if they are fictional. This is certainly true of The Chocolate Man, by Jeremy Fox (Cormorant, 188 pages, $16.95 paper). The novel is narrated by Michael Hopkin, who is severely handicapped by cerebral palsy but intellectually more astute than most of the physically able people around him.

Michael sells chocolates in downtown Toronto. He happens to witness a politically motivated murder, and it is this event that forms the nucleus of the story. Michael falls in love, is kidnapped, is forced-as a fully conscious, moral person-to make a decision and live with the consequences.

Fox writes with grace and eloquence about dignity and self-determination, and endows his protagonist with a completely believable consciousness. As a result, Michael-flawed and perceptive and stunningly articulate as he tells his story on the computer screen-comes to life, stays on long after the book is closed.

In this era of political correctness, it is heartening to encounter an author who has the courage to treat a character like Michael as a human being rather than a cause.


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