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Sheila Watson

Toronto, McClelland and Sicwart, 1989. 130pp, paper, $4.95
ISBN 0-7710-9998-3. CIP

Reviewed by Gerri Young.

Volume 17 Number 4
1989 July

Difficult and gloomy to read, this book, however, is welcomed by Canadian literati. Sheila Watson was a part of the Department of English at the University of Alberta and was a founder and editor of While Pelican, an avant-garde journal of literature and the visual arts. She retired from teaching in 1975 and now lives in British Columbia. In the afterword, Sheila Watson receives high praise from high places for The Double Hook. She lived and taught in the Cariboo for a while in the thirties, so she knew the setting first hand.

The Double Hook takes place in an isolated part of the Cariboo country during the thirties and no one is happy to be there. Bleakness, misery, illicit sex, death, deprivation and hopelessness prevail. A few characters do care for others, but seemingly grudgingly. Getting to know the characters is perplexing, since they are portrayed only by their speech, which is not italicized at all. Therefore, one is not sure if the characters arc speaking, thinking or dreaming. The "spare, allusive prose" and the inability to "see" the characters might have made for a better play than a novel.

The double hook of the title refers to the idea that if you "fish for the glory you catch darkness too. That if you hook twice the glory you hook twice the fear."

Gerri Young, Fort Nelson, B.C.
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