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Edited by Brenda Lea White. Vancouver, Flight Press, c1986. 115pp, paper, $12.95, ISBN 0-919843-06-9. Distributed by Raincoast Books. CIP

Grades 11 and up
Reviewed by Don Precosky

Volume 15 Number 3
1987 May

It is difficult to imagine a book more obnoxious than British Columbia: Visions of the Promised Land. For one thing, it is not about British Columbia at all. It is about how absolutely, marvellously, deliciously wonderful it is to be a member of Vancouver's arts community. Only three of the essays take us beyond Vancouver and its environs. If this narcissistic collection is to be believed, it never snows in British Columbia, not one tree is chopped nor a single pit gouged into the earth, and everyone lives with at least one window facing a breathtaking view of ocean and mountains. The only vivid image we get of a B.C.'er who is not a member of the arts community is W.P. Kinsella's picture of "overpaid slobs walking picket lines, threatening violence," in other words, everyone who is not a part of the charmed circle. But at least Kinsella has the sense to dissociate himself from the rest of the mirror watchers in this collection.

The book is one long collective look down one long snoot at the rest of the province ("Vancouver is probably the only place where I could live in British Columbia. I would certainly not live in Victoria, Prince George, or Nelson, or anywhere else in the province. The small towns lack culture," says Gary Cristall) and at the country in general ("I could see it was still raining. What did B.C. mean to me? It was still snowing in other parts of Canada," reports Susan Musgrave). Tell it to the folks in Fort St. John. The self-centredness of the Vancouver clique is best exemplified by George Woodcock's statement that "I have reached the stage where I think of myself as a Vancouverite first, a British Columbian second, and a Canadian third." If these people are typical, then British Columbia is not the promised land, it is the fleshpots of Egypt. They have gorged themselves stupid and are good for nothing more than generating flatulence.

Don Precosky, College of New Caledonia, Prince George, B.C.
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