Paul Quarrington's early novels, The Service (1978), Home Game (1983) and The Life of Hope (1985), introduce the author's comic vision and explore the mythic and moral structures of human behaviour. While the instability and disorder of experience are dramatized in his work, individual renewal through trial and suffering makes reality partially sensible. In King Leary (1987), which won the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour, his interest in the quest narrative is reflected in the portrayal of Percival Leary, an aging former hockey player who remembers his past actions and their effects on people close to him. Whale Music (1989), which won the GOVERNOR GENERAL'S AWARD, examines the world of rock music through the drug-addled brain of its narrator, Des Howell. Like Leary, Howell comes to understand his earlier lack of compassion. Quarrington's 1990 Logan in Overtime is another comedic hockey novel.
Paul Quarrington also produced non-fiction works exploring his favourite fictional subjects and recreational pastimes. Hometown Heroes: On The Road With Canada's National Hockey Team was published in 1988, and his story about hockey legend Eddie Shore was included in Original Six: True Stories From Hockey's Classic Era (1996). Fishing with My Old Guy, a humorous reflection on angling, was published in 1995. The Boy on the Back of the Turtle (1997) is a humorous travel book about the Galapagos Islands. Quarrington revisits the funny and contemplative world of sport fishing in his 2003 From The Far Side Of The River: Chest Deep In Little Fish And Big Ideas.
Paul Quarrington wrote plays as well as the Gemini-Award winning screenplay for the film Perfectly Normal (1991), starring Robbie Coltrane. His other screenwriting credits include the screenplays for Whale Music and Camilla, which was directed by Deepa MEHTA. Quarrington has also written for popular television series, including Due South and Moose TV. His novel Civilization and Its Part in My Downfall (1994) takes place in Hollywood, in the early years of film, while The Spirit Cabinet (1999) is set in the backstage world of professional magicians. Quarrington drew on his familiarity with the entertainment industry again in his 2008 novel, The Ravine, whose protagonist is a now down-and-out television producer.
Paul Quarrington's King Leary was chosen as the book that all Canadians should read, in CBC's Canada Reads 2008 competition.
Author COLIN BOYD Revised: KAREN GRANDY