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Mitchell, Ken.

Moose Jaw, Coteau Books, c1984. 429pp, paper, $4.95, ISBN 0-919926-34-7. Distributed by Thunder Creek Publishing Co-operative. CIP

Reviewed by Esther Hutchinson

Volume 13 Number 3
1985 May

Ken Mitchell teaches creative writing at the University of Saskatchewan. As well as being a well-known playwright, he has published novels, short stories, and poetry. This book contains samplings from all these genres, examples of new works, as well as a collection from a variety of previously published works.

Included is the complete text of the "Meadowlark Connection," a slapstick comedy first presented on CBC Radio. From the hilarious Depression short story, “The Great Electrical Revolution," to episodes from his novels, Wandering Rafferty and The Con Man; from scenes from the plays, Wheat City and his new dramatic biography of Norman Bethune, Gone to the Burning Sun; with poetry from "The Catholic Wars" of the schoolyard to "The Grand Bell," a translation from the Chinese: the breadth of Mitchell’s talent makes this book difficult to categorize.

Many of his stories are set on the Prairies, with recognizable regional protagonists. The comic conflicts, as these eccentrics confront conformist society, are played out against darker undertones.

But Ken Mitchell Country is not just the Prairies. Settings in later works range from Mexico to Greece and China. As editor Rob Currie says in the introduction, "Ken Mitchell Country, one begins to suspect, is the world."

If you already know Ken Mitchell's work, the only drawback of this book is the brevity of the excerpts. If you don't, it will leave you anxious for more. Recommended.

Esther Hutchinson, Rocky Mountain House, Alta.
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