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Mathews, Robin.

Ottawa, Steel Rail Publishing, c1984. 173pp, paper, $8.95, ISBN 0-88791-030-0. CIP

Grades 11 and up
Reviewed by Ruth Cosstick

Volume 13 Number 3
1985 May

These stories are about Ottawa. All about Ottawa. The streets and rivers, the Parliament Buildings, the restaurants, and the Gatineau Hills are all carefully mapped out. It is a pretty city, a "toy town," one of the characters terms it, always presenting a well-kept facade for the benefit of the tourists who come to visit the Capital. Money, to a young Quebecoise new to this apparent affluence, just seems to appear without visible effort.

It is peopled by toy figures who traverse its streets, jog by the canal in summer and skate on it in winter, work in the Parliament Buildings, pick strawberries in the spring and revel in the fall colouring. They also walk the picket lines during a strike.

Mathews's strong political views are apparent in "The Task Eternal," where a sensitive professional jeopardizes his career by joining a protest for reasons of conscience. A caustic comment on the hiring of American university professors to teach Canadian history is made in "Kingsmere." "A Novel About Mexico" touches the heart of the matter as an Ottawa writer explains the importance of place. "The fact that time touches me in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada means I'm the brother of someone in Mexico City right now. But place tells everything about how I deal with my universal humanity. You can't know who I am unless you know my place."

These carefully crafted stories give a very accurate picture of Robin Mathews and his place. Suitable for high school and beyond.

Ruth Cosstick, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ont.
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