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Leon Rooke

Toronto, McClelland & Stewart, 1989. 299pp, cloth, $26.95
ISBN 0-7710-7712-2. CIP

Adult/ Secondary
Reviewed by Joanne Peters.

Volume 18 Number 2
1990 March

What happens when a backwoods bachelor named Raymond Toker finds a baby in a fertilizer sack? A Good Baby will tell you, if you can get past the southern dialect Rooke uses as the voice of his characters and if you don't need punctuation conventions such as quotation marks in order to follow the dialogue.

Romance is provided in the form of Taker's hapless pursuit of a mysterious and seductive woman, called Bathroby by Toker, in recognition of the garment in which she is characteristically garbed.

While undeniably an innovator at the craft of fiction, Rooke, who previ­ously won a Governor-General's Award for Shakespeare's Dog, is a writer one really has to develop a taste for. I have already mentioned the problems that caused me a great deal of diffi­culty; readers in the early senior grades of high school would, I think, experi­ence similar difficulty. Nor are Rooke's attempts at use of the parable (or perhaps it is allegory) entirely satisfac­tory, either; they were heavy handed, rather than subtle, and they compli­cated when they should have illuminated. A Good Baby might be purchased for a senior high school library committed to promoting contem­porary Canadian fiction, but if there are more pressing purchases to be made, put your money into them, instead.

Joanne Peters, Sisler High School, Winnipeg, Man.
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