Botanist Alfred Homer is invited on a road trip by his parents’ friend, Professor Morgan Bruno, who wants company as he tries to unearth the story of the mysterious poet John Skennen. But this is no ordinary road trip.
Deceptively simple, and almost overpoweringly rich ... Alexis handles the material with a skill and adroitness readers have come to expect from him, along with a subtextual complexity that belies the straightforwardness of the surface narrative. The novel can be read whichever way the reader is most comfortable: the narrative has all the twists and turns, surprises and character development that make for a fulfilling read, while a deeper reading, engaging with the philosophical and social questions raised by the text, provides a much more powerful level of engagement ... the days I spent reading the novels of the Quincunx were among the most pleasurable days of reading in my memory.
[A] darkly funny exploration of mourning and Canadian identity, containing a touch of the surreal ... invokes biting satire as they visit small Ontario towns where black inhabitants communicate only through sign language, residents celebrate heritage by burning historically accurate homes, and an attempt to honor indigenous peoples in a parade flounders over white people’s attempts to be politically correct ... This imaginative travelogue will amuse readers even as it raises weightier issues.
Over the course of Alfred's journey, the book reveals itself to be a critique of Canada's white supremacist underpinnings ... This book feels like a wave of associative detail which Alexis uses to satirize a racial history that is stranger than fiction. As the novel drags on, though, it begins to feel rudderless; the search for Skennen comes to feel like a thin premise on which to hang a string of surrealist gags. By the time Alfred and Bruno approach a mystical fate in Feversham, the reader has lost any investment in them or their journey ... Funny but thin.