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Edited by Matt Cohen and Wayne Grady.

Markham (Ont.), Penguin, c1986, 203pp, paper, $8.95, ISBN 0-14-007958-0. (Penguin Short Fiction). CIP

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Vivienne Denton

Volume 15 Number 3
1987 May

This well-chosen selection of twelve new short stories by young French Quebec writers, translated into English, provides a glimpse of what is happening currently in Quebec literature. The stories, which reveal the cosmopolitan outlook of this generation of writers, are often innovative in technique and a postmodernist self-consciousness of the levels of fiction in story writing is evident in some measure in all of them. The collection includes stories by Monique Proulx, François Barcelo, Gaétan Brulotte, André Carpentier, Victor-Levy Beaulieu, André Berthiaume, Suzanne Jacob, Diane-Monique Daviau, Louise Maheux-Forcier, Désiréé Szucsany, Jean-Yves Soucy, and André Major. In their introduction, the editors make the point that these are urban writers, that unlike the writers of the sixties who came to the city from small-town Quebec, most of these writers were born in Montreal. Yet for all their familiarity with the cityscape and their sophisticated and witty examinations of the myths and values of the city man and woman, their stories tell of the isolation of the individual and urban loneliness.

One of the most entertaining stories is Monique Proulx's witty tale of modern love, "Feint of Heart," in which a pair of lovers attempt to avoid succumbing to the petit bourgeois myths of romance. A vein of the surrealistic, fantastic, or fabulous is found in a number of stories. Gaétan Brulotte's "The Elevator Messages" is a surrealistic tale for apartment dwellers of the revels of mysterious apartment neighbours. The folk roots of Quebec culture inspire François Barcelo's "The Man Who Stopped Trains" and Victor-Levy Beaulieu's "The Rubber Ball"; both stories give the tall tale of folk tradition new sophisticated twists.

Not only do the stories make interesting reading, but the translations are superb, even the technically difficult stories read well, and the reader is able to experience the wide variety in style in these new Quebec writings.

Vivienne Denton, Toronto, Ont.
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