CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Jonathan Miles

St. John's (Nfld.), Breakwater, 1989. 144pp, paper, $14.95
ISBN 0-920911-78-1. CIP

Grades 10 and up/Ages 15 and up
Reviewed by Katheryn Broughton.

Volume 18 Number 3
1990 May

In this collection of short essays, octogenarian Newfoundlander Miles blends a mild wit with philosophical musings. A legacy of memorizing both literature and religion in addition to a lifetime of reading enriches his prose.

This writer cares about language and treats the attempts to come to terms with sexism in language as a bit of a joke. This is possibly due to the respect he clearly accords women and the equality he genuinely feels is due the female sex. That the use of "man" to cover the human race is at the very least equivocal appears to escape him. This attitude dates his writing as does his rather old-fashioned style. In "The Voice of Spring," for example, he says, "I suppose that is why Lady Spring wears gloves when she comes. The icy breath of Winter would chill her dainty fingers."

There is considerable variety of topics. In "I Gets This Wonderful Pain" he dwells amusingly on hypochondria in several manifestations, and in "In All Time of our Tribulation" he takes delight in describing Uncle Charley, a socially unacceptable imbiber but a treasured friend to small boys.

There are references that are peculiar to Newfoundland, some of which are explained ("Sally trees" and "the quick"), and others that could lead to a dictionary of Canadianisms ("figgy duff). There are also a great many Biblical references, which might force the reader to use a concordance. Neither of these possible forays in to reference sources is considered by this reviewer to be a criticism of the writer.

The wit and humour is mild, perhaps even a bit stodgy, and therefore the appeal to the TV generation accustomed to staccato one-liners may be limited. Still, the writer's gentle prose proclaiming his joy in life while viewing with an appraising eye the foibles of humanity certainly has its appeal.

Katheryn Broughton, Thornhill, Ont.
line indexes


1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


The materials in this archive are copyright © The Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission Copyright information for reviewers

Young Canada Works