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Cuevas, Ernesto R.

Toronto, Williams-Wallace Publishers, 1986. 77pp, paper, $9.95, ISBN 0-88795-056-6.

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Dianne Clipsham

Volume 15 Number 5
1987 November

After being published initially in Robert Weaver's 1952 (and first) edition of Canadian Short Stories (Oxford U.P.), Ernesto Cuevas seemed to virtually drop from sight in subsequent anthologies of short stories. In Some Friends of Mine, Williams-Wallace Publishers have put together a selection of his stories for us to examine.

Most revolve around a dreary little man named Morris, although the point of view changes from first to third and back again from one story to the next. In the story, "An Adult Education," in an ad for the "Neo-Neo School" the questions posed, when answered in the affirmative, describe Morris perfectly: "Do you constantly feel guilty? Are you afraid of being found out? Does your face ache at the end of the day? Is your throat sore? Do you sleep in a ball at night?" Morris is one of Eliot's "Hollow Men," and in his paranoid search for identity, represent, I suppose, the cliché Canadian everyman.

Death, as an image, hovers over most of the stories, and is particularly strong throughout "A Good Friday Story," the only one in the collection set in Canada—the cemetery on Cote des Neiges in Montreal. (Incidentally, the typos sprinkled throughout the text reach their climax in (his story in which "cemetary" (sic) is spelled two ways on the same page.) Morris sees the people around him as representative of the inhabitants of the cemetery: " . . .these people never answer, they turn their grey eyes upon their interlocutor, and carry on, without speaking ..."

As for an evaluation of this collection, I do not feel Canadian literature would have suffered unduly if it had never been published.

Dianne Clipsham, A.Y. Jackson S.S., Kanata, Ont.
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