Likely to have the distinction of being the first (and perhaps only) novel constructed using the format of parliamentary debates, Verbatim: A Novel is presented as a Hansard document interspersed with office emails (using a multiplicity of fonts) between the new Hansard Director, editors, other Hansard employees, and parliamentary officials, creating a palpable tension which progresses the novel. Rather than mirror the exaggerated and excessive behaviours characterising contemporary parliaments around the world, Bursey subtly satirises, displaying a fine sense of humour and providing a keen dissection of the political machinations of parliamentary procedure and the bureaucratic structure that supports it.
This higly innovative and imaginative book commences with a metafictional twist - an essay by a real critic from a convention concerned with the contemporary Canadian novel - before proceeding to the debates proper in chronological order. The cast of parliamentary characters are cleverly introduced according to political party membership and location, while the bureaucrats become known through their correspondence, their emails reflecting their power, status, influence, pettiness, and significance to the text. Various Acts are tabled in the debates, drawing criticism and praise according to political affiliation, and serve to depict daily life in the Canadian province in which the "action" occurs. Births, deaths, illnesses, financial shenanigans, environmental despoilage, murder, political suicide, and more form the substance from which Bursey slyly parodies politicians, hangers-on, office intrigues, and the foibles of human nature.
"Jeff Bursey has written a clever, highly innovative and highly readable novel. The satire is sharp, sometimes hilarious, the language perfectly suited to the subject -- Mr. Bursey has a pitch perfect ear." -- Wayne Johnston
". . . a tour de force of verbal dexterity that wields irony so deftly that the book, despite its intimidating scale, both challenges and delights." -- Dalkey Archive Press
"[Bursey gets right down to political brass tacks in his eccentric, sometimes ingenious debut novel." -- Winnipeg Free Press
". . . an innovative and insightful narrative that is an uproarious read. . . " -- Arts East
"Let the record also show that this is probably about the funniest intelligent book on politics you can get your hands on these days." -- American Book Review
". . . if politics is your thing, and if you have a taste for satire, then this would be just an ideal read. . . " -- Tales from the Reading Room