CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Burnett, Virgil.

Erin, (Ont.). The Porcupine's Quill, 1986. 106pp, paper. $7.95. ISBN 0-88984-098-9.

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Anne Locatelli

Volume 15 Number 4
1987 July

The dream-like atmosphere of these eerie short stories has an evanescent quality that often obfuscates the distinction between reality and illusion. Virgil Burnett is a good story writer. Born in 1928, he was educated at the Universities of California, Paris, Columbia, and New York. A professor of fine arts at the University of Waterloo, he has also affirmed himself as illustrator, print-maker, and writer of fiction. He has received a Fulbright scholarship as well as Canada Council and Ontario Arts Council awards. His work has been published in various magazines including Harpers, Tri-quarterly, Penthouse, Chicago Review, Descant, and CFM. Among his publications are Illusion, Skiamachia (Pas de Loup Press. 1977). Towers at the Edge of the World* and A Comedy of Eros,** all works of delightful fiction.

The seven short stories in Farewell Tour all deal with travel in foreign lands, away from home and far from familiar boundaries and milieux. These faraway environments undermine feelings of security and safety; the characters move uneasily in undefined spaces longing for a return to a more secure reality. In one story two older married lovers recapture their honeymoon feelings in Venice amid the gondolas and the music, unexpectedly and abruptly ending the magic when the woman quietly commits suicide; ghosts haunt a man in his ex-lover's country house, driving him almost to distraction in another story. In yet another, a beautiful middle-aged woman, sunbathing on a docked cruise ship deck, ends up in a strange house at the bedside of a dying, lecherous old man. Each story abounds in that elusive quality that dreams are made of, often with well-developed elements of suspense, always with excellent, even precious, choice of vocabulary.

The volume is sturdy and attractive, with an intriguing cover picturing a stately staircase-the staircase of life? Recommended for senior students and adult readers, a desirable addition for the high school Canadiana collection.

Anne Locatelli, Elliot Lake S.S., Elliot Lake, Ont.

*Reviewed vol. X/l 1982 p.15.
**Reviewed vol. XIII/4 1985 p.159.

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