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With Bruce Meyer and Brian O'Riordan. Toronto, Anansi, c1984. 211pp, paper, $12.95, ISBN O-88784-142-2. CIP

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Joan Kerrigan

Volume 13 Number 4
1985 July

The co-authors of this interesting little paperback inform us that the idea for producing it came about because they believed that "there wasn't enough recent source material in which English Canadian authors discussed what they intended their work to say, why it took shape the way it did, and why at times it was misunderstood or misinterpreted." Furthermore, they wanted the book to be "a cross-section of English-Canadian writers."

They have succeeded, to some extent, in these goals. The writers who are interviewed are from many different parts of the country, and two of them (Brian Moore -and Elizabeth Smart) live elsewhere most of the time. Among the fourteen writers (including poets) interviewed, are Irving Layton, Leonard Cohen, Timothy Findley, James Reaney, Raymond Souster, and Al Purdy.

The writers emerge like any other segment of society: extroverts, introverts, nationalists, internationalists, and so on. Leonard Cohen seems to be more than a bit disillusioned with life, "What I consider a hero is a guy who goes to work every day and supports his family. The ordinary guy. I think to hold it together nowadays is a heroic enterprise." On the other hand, Dorothy Livesay still retains her optimism and sense of concern for humanity at the age of seventy-six. When asked for her definition of a romantic, she replies, "For me a romantic is someone who is spurred on by a positive view of humanity, who believes in hope rather than despair and who believes in the freedom of the individual above all things. It is to be someone who has not rejected the possibilities of a Utopian society."

The interviews are too short to provide comprehensive insights regarding the work or opinions of the writers. However, these interviews could provide an introduction to their work for Canadian students. Also, there are many opinions and comments that provide grist for class discussions and essays. (James Reaney, for example, makes some provocative comparisions between Canadian and American society). The black-and-white photographs are excellent, and there is a selected bibliography and fairly comprehensive index. Recommended as supplementary resource material for senior secondary and post-secondary students.

Joan Kerrigan, Toronto Board of Education, Toronto, Ont.
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