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Patrick O'Flaherty

St. John's (Nfld.), Breakwater Books, 1989. 135pp, paper, $14.95
ISBN 0-920911-70-6. CIP

Adult/ Secondary
Reviewed by Katheryn Broughton.

Volume 18 Number 2
1990 March

Newfoundland writer Patrick O’Flaherty explores universal themes in this his second collection of short stories. Four selections feature protago­nist Jimmy Byrne as he grows up wondering about the hostility he observes between Protestant and Catholic and the fact that his success at school spoils his friendship with his older brother. The mystery of the adult world is represented by his parents and the urban by exotic Aunt Aggie.

Several stories ("Bus Ride," "These, Thy Gifts," "The Hawker") depict ordinary experiences, which the author embues with the colour of peculiar detail or closes with an intriguing lack of conclusion. In the most brilliant selection, "Lights Out," a wife delivers a monologue as the couple lie in bed. Although she is not sure her husband is really listening, she wills him to hear her message of hope that a smaller dream may be possible for them.

Most of the stories are realistic, but the collection ends with a whimsical story about Gus, who creates "things" from his collection of bits and pieces, some scavenged from family and friends. He is proud of the perfect small horse he has built, set in motion and put out the door. Last heard of, it had crossed the Cabot Strait - on its way to Toronto perhaps?

All in all, an excellent collection.

Katheryn Broughton, Thornhill, Ont.
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