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Robert Currie.

Moose Jaw, Coteau Books, c1983.
(The McCourt Fiction series #1).
Distributed by Thunder Creek Publishing Co-operative.
120pp, paper, $15.00 (cloth), $7.00 (paper).
ISBN 0-919926-19-3 (cloth), 0-919926-20-7 (paper).

Grades 11 and up.
Reviewed by Alan Thomas.

Volume 11 Number 5.
1983 September.

Twelve linked stories give us the growing-up of a decent and sensitive boy, Steve Campbell, in a tough neighbourhood of Moose Jaw. The period is the fifties, when adolescent life was lived as intensely as now, though without the literary models provided by a book such as this, which follows the contemporary thrust in juvenile fiction to lay strong themes before young readers. Here it is-sexual awakening. Sex occupies a large place in the minds of Steve and his friends and dominates the content of most of the stories. The title expresses the natural, playful quality of boyhood and also the prurience inescapably associated, it seems, with the gaining of sexual knowledge. The plots do not involve extreme actions: there are no rapes or gang fights; no one dies, no girl aborts. In a sketchy adult section, Steve is put through marriage failure and then the recovery of affection. This book has a good heart.

The author himself grew up in the South Hill area of Moose Jaw, and fidelity to experience may explain the personal tone and relatively unsensational content. But Robert Currie is a published poet, and these stories indicate a taste for expressing meaning by implication. In the best of them it is the internal action that matters, the changes in Steve's perceptions, and not the external action. Ordinarily intelligent and sensitive boys and girls, like Steve Campbell himself, will value and understand this distinction and learn to see it as a literary technique as well. Consequently, this is a highly "teachable" set of stories.

Alan Thomas, Scarborough College, West Hill, ON.
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