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Reibetanz, John.

Montreal, Vehicule Press, 1986. 96pp, paper, $9.95, ISBN 0-919890-76-8. (A Signal edition).

Grades 10 and up
Reviewed by Warner Winter

Volume 16 Number 3
1988 May

It took me a while to build up enthusiasm for Ashbourn. So much of it said "no." It is published with "the assistance of the Canada Council," an acknowledgement that says it can't make it on ifs own. It is a first book written by a forty-two-year-old University of Toronto professor (publish or perish?) who lives, as the back cover tells us, "in a small town in a part of Ontario that looks remarkably like East Suffolk." Now, while that is the subject matter of Ashbourn, can anything interesting be written by a man who wants to live in a part of Canada that looks like "East Suffolk"?

The surprise is yes. I loved the book and will read it many times. In a series of monologues, Reibetanz re-creates the experience of a series of characters who live (and lived) in the village of Ashbourn. The history and words of (he people in the community are brought to life through some incredibly honest, unpretentious writing. I got so caught up with their lives that I was hardly aware that I was reading poetry, which is, after all, an artificial, highly stylized art form. I enjoyed the gentle humour and the variety of forms (sonnets that aren't really sonnets, songs, epitaphs, etc.). And despite the subjects, the writing is never sentimental. "Bob Copping, Veteran" will tell you what war is really about. High school libraries should own copies. Young people will love this book. Let them read this instead of Wordsworth!

Warner Winter, Emery Collegiate, North York, Ont.
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