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Arnason, David.

Vancouver. Talon books, c1984. 157pp. paper. $8.95. ISBN 0-88922-218-5. CIP

Reviewed by Tony Cosier

Volume 13 Number 5
1985 September

David Arnason is a professor of creative writing at St. John's College in Manitoba. It is consistent that the stories in this collection draw constant attention to the writing process.

Stories end with obvious echoes to their titles. Stories begin with obvious emphasis on techniques: "You've wondered what it would be like to be a character in a story, to sort of slip out of your ordinary self and into some other character." In "Do Astronauts Have Sex Fantasies'.7" the entire selection is composed entirely of short paragraphs; each of them includes the title phrase, always with capital letters for emphasis, usually in the first three words. The reader often bumps into the author's comments with such statements as "Details bore me, and they'd bore you too."

A few of these stories are essays in disguise. Several are portraits of family structures with emphasis on the upsetting of stock traditional roles. Arnason also likes to take fairy tales and modernize them, basically by pepping up the rhythms, shortening the attention span, and pouring on the sex and blood.

The title story is the best in the book. It fits best into the volume if looked at as a parody of Hemingway, a literary game set in an unlikely turn-of-the-century Russian context. But it is more enjoyable for its imagery, its narrative control, and the economical texturing of its characters.

The cover illustration, a Horst Siegler photograph of seven very colourful dwarfs lined up on brick gateposts embellishes a glossy cover, impressively Talon books have also done a highly professional job on paper, print, and internal design.

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