CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Metcalf, John.

Toronto, Macmillan, c1986. 201pp, cloth, $19.95, ISBN 0-7715-9896-3, CIP

Reviewed by Grace Shaw

Volume 15 Number 2
1987 March

Do red cabbage, less-than-red tomatoes, and zucchini celebrate life and growth? Gracing the cover of John Metcalf’s latest short fiction, their freshness inviting, they promise wholesome, vital discourse. An editor, collector, and anthologist, as well as promoter of writers and of literary experience, Metcalf has added Adult Entertainment to his growing list of celebrated novellas and short stories. Originally a writer's writer, he deserves his ever expanding readership.

A more gentle satirist than Richler, he nevertheless exposes the philistine, the vacuous, the idolizing, the over-earnest. Touching us all, he shares with the reader how difficult it is to be an adult; responsible, burdened, and sometimes disillusioned.

The two novellas and three short stories of Adult Entertainment offer great variety. A not uncommon theme is strained parent-child relationships; some of us can relate to difficulties accepting purple hair. But, combine them with a sex-starved husband cursing his open floor-plan house, a literature reading in the boondocks, a young teacher in a reformatory whose misadventure enables a whole cricket team to escape, and tourists in Italy whose only common ground is their being victims of robbery, and you have a book with spunk and colour.

Husbands are tempted, but faithful; supportive, caring relationships are celebrated. Metcalf is always observant, careful of detail, thoughtful, provocative, sometimes tender and amusing, and often raucously funny. After waiting for hours, frozen, starving, the narrator is "reduced to reading an article in a fat book by a women's collective about the self-examination of breasts." Enjoy.

Grace Shaw, Vancouver, C.C., Vancouver, B.C.
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