literary department: the goat and the tiger

This weekend, I had to buy a new computer. The old one had performed well given how heavily I use, but either old age or an inability to get along with recent Windows Updates meant increasing wildcat strikes by my mouse and keyboard. Setting up the new system was easy, and has provided an excuse to sort files.

Among the folders I found was one filled with snapshots from late 1970s editions of Books in Canada, taken while working on other projects during some long-ago trip to Toronto Reference Library. 

The first image jumped out at me.


Books in Canada, August-September 1977.


Kind of reminds me of that part of the opening sequence for the old Elwy Yost series Magic Shadows where the fighter pilot turns into a tiger man. Or the dude who physically modified himself into a catman. Or something Dr. Moreau genetically whipped up. 

Shedding some colour on this doesn't make this cover any less creepy.

Let's take a closer look at the ad...


Books in Canada, August-September 1977.

So...are we in Dr. Moreau territory?


According to Guelph Alumnus magazine, Derek Askey was a Burlington, Ontario veterinarian who moonlighted as a novelist specializing in thrillers. The magazine offered up this description of the plot:

Who is the Tiger? He's a psychopath, a killer, a torturer - an unknown unstoppable evil force, without love, without pity. And the Tiger's cunning mind is obsedded with one mad goal. In every terrible way possible he is going to destroy veterinarian Dr. Donald Allan and his loved ones. Life becomes a nightmare, and the Tiger comes closer and closer...

Askey spent a decade working on his debut novel. "I wrote the end of the book first - and then I just fiddled around - I didn't know how to start it," he reflected. "I threw it in a drawer in disgust, forgot about it for a year, dragged it out again, finished it, and then threw it back in the drawer and forgot about it for another five years." He didn't plan to abandon his veterinary practice, noting the financial odds were too lousy to take up writing full time. 

Ottawa Citizen book critic Burt Heward praised The Goat and the Tiger, comparing it to the works of John D. MacDonald (Cape Fear). Heward found the cover "exceptionally artistic" and felt it proved that "pop literature can be served up brightly in Canada."

Sources: the Fall 1977 edition of Guelph Alumnus and the October 15, 1977 edition of the Ottawa Citizen.


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