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Lesley Choyce.
Saskatoon, SK: Thistledown Press, 1989.
160pp., paper, $14.95.
ISBN 0-920633-676. CIP.

Grades 12 and up / Ages 17 and up

Reviewed by Katheryn Broughton.

Volume 17 Number 6
1989 November

In this fine novel, sixty-nine-year-old recluse Jonas MacPherson muses over his memories and present-day events in an effort to find coherence for the living-out of his days. All the while, he shakes his fist in the face of that spectre, Death, for he does not plan to die.

Jonas becomes aware of how much his home setting on the Eastern Shore, a coastal area near Halifax, is vital to his sense of self and well-being. He has recently suffered a terrible loss in the death of his wife, and this mighty grief pushes him to memories of other losses: the death of his mother in the Halifax explosion during WW I; the absence of his wanderer father; and the departure of his son to an arid life in Toronto.

Jonas also becomes aware of the plusses in his life contributed by a cast of bizarre neighbours ranging from Joe Allen Joe (the last of the Micmacs) to Muriel Cree (the mad, near-illiterate preacher of everlasting fire), all of whom add richness to his existence.

Out of loneliness and despair Jonas is able to conjure up meaning for whatever time he has left to live; the song in his heart that faded with the loss of his wife is wonderfully revived.

Choyce is a master storyteller and a stylist of descriptive power. This novel stands with Margaret Laurence's The Stone Angel (Macmillan, 1964) as a compelling exploration of old age, only this time the protagonist is male.

Katheryn Broughton, Thornhill, ON.
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