A PLACE TO DIE
Volume 11 Number 5.
Life is a mystery; death is a puzzle. And since "people are not much interested in a mystery, because it can't be solved," writers write about death. So says the narrator-writer in the collection's last story, "Four California Deaths." Guess what A Place to Die is about? Yup. Death. In fact, death in this collection is trotted out so frequently and so shamelessly that it becomes rather tiresome. Frankly, I share the lady's skepticism in "Four California Deaths":
Really, don't you think that's kind of juvenile.
The nine stories in A Place to Die do not work as a collection, but there is so much variety in style and structure and tone that everyone will find something that appeals. Personally, I like "The Clam-Digger," a dreamy little beast fable, and "A Short Story," a clever experimental piece that satirizes the conventions of short story criticism. "Old Bottles," with its poignant ending reminds me gently that Bowering's sardonic smile is not a permanent fixture.
Vanderhaeghe, Kinsella, Hood, and Rooke have recently published collections much better than A Place to Die, but Bowering undoubtedly is a gifted craftsman in this popular genre.
Unfortunately, Bowering's explicit language will keep him off the shelves of some secondary school libraries.
Boh Kinczyk, Central Elgin C. I., St. Thomas, ON.
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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