Timothy “Buttons” McBanks is the greatest door-to-door cane salesman of his generation. There isn’t a cane he cannot sell: bamboo sticks from the heart of the Orient, wrought iron from Detroit City, and even twisted lengths of cursed yew from the blackest depths of the Queen’s England. A plaque set into the steering wheel of his Studebaker reads, “World’s Best Caner.”
One day, Buttons opens the new cane catalog, and his eyes immediately fall upon a model called “The Curiosity.” It’s a short, hooked, gentleman’s cane like thousands of others he’s sold throughout the years. However, under material, the caption reads: “humanely harvested soulwood.”
“Soulwood?” he says, “what in the blazes is soulwood?” Still, he orders a dozen and rings up his most eclectic clients. None of them have heard of soulwood either, but all want one.
Weeks pass and the Curiosity canes arrive in an unmarked pine box. With the dozen canes are a dozen pair of white gloves and a small note:
“Wield with caution, and never without a pair of Guffin’s Exorsilk gloves hugging your mitts!”
“Bah,” Buttons says, “no one’s going to wanna wear these over their tommy-knockers.” He stores the gloves in his trunk and delivers the canes.
And every wielder of the Curiosity disappears.
The Curiosity is a magical realist comic adventure like no other, filled with dark comedy and detailed descriptions of period-authentic canes, The Curiosity is sure to delight those wanting to experience the thrills of door-to-door sales from a simpler time.
Quotes from Readers
“My grandfather whittled canes in Hungary. My father had an upscale canery in Harlem. I went to the New Amsterdam School of Modern Cane Design, and I feel confident in telling you Kiernan couldn’t tell a cane from a piece of driftwood.”
–James Woods, The Nu Yorker
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure none of that’s real.”
–John Currey, The Sundae Times
“Did your copy have words in it? Mine was just blank pages.”
–John Glouchester, London Book Parfait