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Paul Bowdring

St. John's (Nfld.), Breakwater, 1989. 138pp, paper, $14.95
ISBN 0-920911-59-5. CIP

Grades 10 and up/Ages 15 and up
Reviewed by E. Robson.

Volume 18 Number 3
1990 May

Paul Bowdring, an editor, publisher and teacher in Newfoundland, has written poetry and fiction but this is his first novel. This book, consisting of thirty short chapters with a prologue and epilogue, reads more like poetry than a novel, since there is no action.

The many vignettes portray an exile from Newfoundland who has moved west, presumably to Toronto, and lives in a rooming house in the Roncesvalles area. The main character, Hugh Myers, is a well-read university drop-out who has been fired from his job and ends up working in the Dog's Ear Used Bookstore. It is here that he reads The Story of Roland, in which the hero dies at Roncesvalles Pass in 778. Each chapter, which can be read independently, is a moment in the life and mind of an unsettled man in a big city.

Parts of the book have appeared in TickleAce, a literary magazine. Bowdring's writing is lyrical yet very readable and realistic. A note has been added that characters and incidents are fictional, although the readers will feel that they have met many of the characters and walked the same streets. Occasionally, a chapter such as "American Dreams" ironically comments on the American arms race and caused me to wonder about the relevance and direction of the work. However, the book does come full circle, starting and ending with the gulls in Waterlowe Park.

Although very readable, this collection is not an essential purchase for schools unless a large Canadian or east-coast collection is desired.

E. Robson, Winston Churchill Collegiate Institute, Scarborough, Ont.
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