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Jordan Wheeler.
Winnipeg, MB: Pemmican Publications, 1989.
224pp., paper, $6.95.
ISBN 0-921827-07-5. CIP.


Reviewed by Gerald R. Brown.

Volume 18 Number 2
1990 March

Brothers in Arms is a collection of three novellas entitled "Hearse in Snow," "Red Waves" and "Exposure." Being brothers means more than being born from the same parents. It means dealing with real life - growing up both physically and emotionally, dealing with emotional crises, and handling both public and private lives.

Jordan Wheeler has chosen to step across these boundaries in each novella. He writes gripping stories depicting the native experience. He uses narrative well and helps the reader slip inside his characters to see "what makes them tick." The interaction of aboriginals with, and in response to, white society is starkly portrayed.

Anger comes through strongly many times; a sense of frustration and helplessness with one's situation is frequently portrayed. At the same time a subtle sense of humour can be detected underlying many lines.

Wheeler demonstrates a grasp of story-line as he draws out the qualities of life - and reaffirms the survival motif. He uses dialogue and description well. Now he needs to hone his skills in the use of language. The editor needs to give attention to grammatical points and verb tenses.

At many times, Wheeler's work reminds one of Beatrice Culleton's April Raintree, but shows native attitudes from the male perspective this time. In a psychological journey context, there are similarities to Valgardson's Gentle Sinners (Oberon Press, 1980). And one can see glimpses of W.O. Micthell's wry humour, especially in the "warm coffin."

Individuals who are working with native people in any context or who want to begin to understand their point of view should choose Brothers in Arms. This is particularly true for teachers.

Unfortunately, the explicit sex scenes will probably cause an uproar in most communities if the book appears in school libraries.

Gerald R. Brown, Winnipeg, MB.
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