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Gray, John.

Toronto, Irwin Publishing, cl984. 245pp, cloth, $18.95, ISBN 0-7725-1503-4. CIP

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Elaine Balpataky

Volume 13 Number 2
1985 March

Dazzled is a witty and satirical novel, which will appeal to adults who can remember the 60's and 70's. The hero, Willard, is a hippie and a professional student, who is forced to look for work by his wife's ultimatum. He finds employment as a salesman with "Chuck Queasy Men's Wear," and, after a period of adjustment, finds success. The secret is his discovery that every customer identifies with a television or movie personality when he looks in the mirror. All a salesman has to do is appeal to that image.

Willard terminates his sales career when his wife opts for a divorce. He calls an old friend from the 60's, the Scrapper, who is legally both blind and deaf, and goes to live with him in a Vancouver commune. While he is there, he falls in love with the beautiful Ethereal, a yoga devotee. She, however, deserts him for the Trashman, and his world is again shattered. Suffering a nervous breakdown, he seeks refuge on Vancouver Island with the wealthy, but aged Terra Firma.

Upon his return to the city, Willard makes contact with The Scrapper again, and the two of them plan an act of sabotage that will save society-for a few days at least. For both Willard and the Scrapper believe that human existence is threatened by the television world, and that this world of images is gradually replacing the real world, engulfing it like a black hole. Their plan is to strike at both local television networks, the CBC and CTV. Armed with blowtorches, they will render both networks inactive for a few days.

The plan is successful, and miraculously they evade capture. By the end of the novel, Willard finds himself a commercial success, peddling 1960's nostalgia to the youth of the '80's at his own place of business, the Luxe Junk Company. At the same time he has preserved his own sanity by remaining totally out of touch with television and newspapers. His pilgrimage has led him back to where he started-doing nothing. However, this time it is a "meaningful nothing. . .the best and most courageous thing to be and do."

Elaine Balpataky, Ingersoll D.C.I., Ingersoll, Ont.
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