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Wexler, Jerry.

Montreal, Véhicule Press, c1984. 94pp, paper, $6.95, ISBN 0-9198'>0-51-2. CIP

Grades 10 and up
Reviewed by Tony Cosier

Volume 13 Number 2
1985 March

Jerry Wexler tells his melancholy stories with a bit of humour and a lot of sensitivity. He works from the viewpoints of a number of young, moody, creative Montrealers, who are so similar one suspects they are all Jerry Wexlers.

Wexler sets his stories in large cities (usually Montreal), often by night. He walks us through the longest alleys he can find, to give us the sweep of the city. He skims the neighbourhoods, takes in the restaurants, follows the flow of the masses.

To offset the impersonality of the urban environment, he focuses on intimate contacts. A lover's sleeping bag is the setting for one vignette. "Women Who Live in Small Rooms" is the subject of another. Two youths share a smoked whitefish in an alley; one of them has just lost his girlfriend and the other is comforting him. A father admonishes his nine year old poignantly. The title story follows an ironic feud between a young tenant and his landlady, using his small flat as the battleground and symbol of their bond.

In the introduction to this collection, Hugh Hood speaks of Wexler as a master of his craft. Hood is right. Most of these stories are skilfully wrought. Some very short selections are gems, prose poems almost, works not meant to be read only once but many times. Wexler has clearly taken a lot of care with his art, though not, it seems, in a showy sense. Rather, he sees characters clearly, intuits the sense of whole lives caught in telling moments, because he cares profoundly about the city-dwellers that the characters in his fiction are modelled on. Buy this book.

Tony Cosier, Confederation H.S., Nepean Ont.
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