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Allan Donaldson.

Fredericton, Goose Lane Editions, c1984.
124pp, paper, $6.95.
ISBN 0-86492-027-X.
Distributed by Goose Lane Editions, University of New Brunswick, Box 4400, Fredericton, N.B., E3B 5A3.

Grades 9 and up

Reviewed by Clare Darby.

Volume 12 Number 6
1984 November

Allan Donaldson's Paradise Siding reminds one a lot of Margaret Laurence's Bird in the House and Alice Munro's Lives of Girls and Women. All three are collections of short stories centred around a central protagonist and all three chronicle the formative years of this character. They are all written in the slice-of-life, realist tradition and in all three character portrayal, not suspense, is of main importance. In Allan Donaldson's contribution to this sub-genre we find such recognizable people as the crabby old neighbours, the drunk in-law, the lonely spinsters with the mysterious past, the schoolyard bully, the outsider, the easygoing bootlegger, the kindly grandfather, and the cranky, hateful grandmother full of self pity and spite. After the death of a neighbour, the narrator-protagonist notes: "My grandmother, who was in love with death, had already recalled hearing the banshee and was moaning around the house talking about poor 'Mr. Lee,' meaning herself." Although the stories are set in the thirties and forties, there is a timelessness and universality about these stock characters and stock situations (the Christmas that went bust, the rejection of the outsider, the death of a neighbour) that should guarantee this book a large, empathetic audience. Individually, the stories are well-written, although there are too many "CBC endings'"' for my liking, and the author has been meticulous in making the language appropriate to each stage of the narrator's development. One can only hope that Allan Donaldson decides to publish more fiction for behind all these characters one senses a deeper theme needing development. If your collection contains either of the titles mentioned at the beginning of this review, then it is incomplete without Paradise Siding.

Clare Darby, Three Oaks S. H. S., Summer-side, PEI.
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