CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Fraser, John.

Toronto, Collins, c1986. 218pp, cloth, $19.95, ISBN 0-00-217641-6. CIP

Grades 10 and up
Reviewed by Joan Kerrigan

Volume 15 Number 1
1987 January

Most of us enjoy reading gossip and juicy tidbits about the rich and famous. That is the reason Telling Tales is a good read. John Fraser, who is a journalist with the Globe and Mail, has invited us to share some of his reminiscences from a privileged past and an interesting present. He has rubbed shoulders with such luminaries as Conrad Black, Pierre Trudeau, Pauline Vanier, Brian Mulroney, and so on and so on. His anecdotes are entertaining and amusing, although sometimes slightly vicious, particularly about such people as Ed Schreyer or Brian Linehan. Most of his slight stories are only two pages long, although occasionally he does go into more detail about a particular favourite (or non-favourite) such as Joseph Smallwood or Nancy Jackman.

Although Telling Tales provides a pleasant way to spend a miserable autumn afternoon (which was the case for this reviewer), it must be noted that there is a problem about this book for a crosscountry audience. There is something rather "Toronto," or at the least, rather "Ontario," about quite a few of the stories. For example, do many people in western or eastern Canada care very much about such people as James Peterson, William Davis, Zena Cherry, John Sewell, Stephen Clarkson, Nancy Jackman, and several others? Quite a bit of Fraser's background consisted of his time at Upper Canada College or holidays on Georgian Bay, although, in fairness, he also provides stories about the time he spent at Memorial University and elsewhere in his journalistic career. For example, he was for a time the Globe and Mail's reporter in China, and one of his best pieces in Telling Tales is his hilarious account of the reason for the immense popularity of social columnist Zena Cherry in that country.

The few slight inaccuracies do not detract from a book that is obviously meant to be simply good fun. For this reason, it will be popular in public libraries, but its main attraction in school libraries would be simply to prove that occasionally journalism can be a delightful career choice, particularly for those with a finely-honed sense of humour.

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


1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


The materials in this archive are copyright © The Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission Copyright information for reviewers

Young Canada Works