CM Archive
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Edited by Jack David and Robert Lecker

Toronto, ECW Press, 1989. 127pp, paper, $6.00, ISBN 0313-0300
Distributed by CPPA, 2 Stewart Street, Toronto, Ont. M5V 1H6

Grades 12 and up/Ages 17 and up
Reviewed by Grace Shaw.

Volume 18 Number 3
1990 May

Number #38 of Essays on Canadian Writing breaks from its norm of general literary criticism to focus on a perhaps neglected west-coast figure and his varied works but maintains its scholarly and sometimes abstruse tone. As Ken Norris states in his introduction, George Dowering as a well-known progenitor of almost all genres of fiction deserves his own edition of Essays on Canadian Writing.

Admired by many and dismissed by a few, Bowering is in love with the magic of words and some think with his own arrangement of them. Master of form from short lyric to serial poem, absurdist to satire, Bowering refuses to be pigeon-holed or labeled but chooses to fly freely. Does Margaret Atwood have his number when she attributes his clown act to disguising his serious intent as an artist? Enjoying the leading edge, inspirational and confusing, Bowering is, according to John Harris, both good and terrible and part of a self-fulfilling prophesy that there has been more good writing in Canada in the last twenty years than in the previous one hundred.

And this journal itself may well be "good writing," but as long as it remains in its tradition of academics writing for academics, a limited audience it will have.

A little more fun like "Cryhat Valley" (an amusing tattle-tale story about George Bowering by Will Trump) could work wonders in lightening the generally heavy tone of Essays on Canadian Writing. Libraries - yes, literati - yes, the reading public - well, not first choice.

Grace Shaw, King Edward Campus, Vancouver, B.C.
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