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Fawcett, Brian.

Vancouver, Talonbooks, c1986. 207pp. paper, $9.95, ISBN 0-88922-237-1. CIP

Reviewed by Vivienne Denton

Volume 15 Number 6
1987 November

This is an arresting and stimulating book, as radical formally as it is politically. Fawcett's thesis is that television is a Fiction form of mind control, ultimately undemocratic, which is wiping out our culture and re-creating our society. He offers as a metaphor the example of Cambodia, a country where under the Khmer Rouge a culture has been deliberately expunged and re-created. He argues that forces in our culture are rendering individual memory and imagination superfluous. "This is a story about memory and imagination," he argues, "and about the reorganizations of human intelligence that are about to leave us all in a new—or very ancient-kind of darkness. It is a story about why Cambodia is not an isolated historical aberration. . . Cambodia is as near as your television set."

The book is not at all conventional in form. It consists of two parallel texts: the story of Cambodia, juxtaposed with comments upon modern culture and anecdotes from contemporary North American life. These two texts are literally juxtaposed, each page being divided into two parts to accommodate the two continuing parallel texts. This is often annoying to read, but the overall effect is provocative, Fawcett wittily justifies this format by referring to contemporary literary theory and arguing that to "create art based on individual but nonetheless comprehended subtexts is dangerously undemocratic," discouraging and disabling social, artistic, or intellectual discourse for the general public such that these become the intellectual property of a privileged class. Thus Fawcett's response is to make the subtext of his book "visible and literal."

Fawcett's writing is witty, provocative, and au courant. This is not a conventional or easy book to read, but senior high school students who are willing to read books for ideas may find it stimulating.

Vivienne Denton, Toronto, Ont.
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