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Estey, Dale
Fredericton, Goose Lane Editions, 1989. 61pp, paper, $9.95, ISBN 0-86492-106-3. Distributed by Goose Lane Editions, 248 Brunswick St., Fredericton, N.B. E3B 1G9. CIP


Reviewed by Doug Watling

Volume 18 Number 5
1990 September

The Elephant Talks to God is an offbeat little story about an elephant befriended by God. Not just any elephant, either — an inquisitive, slightly cheeky elephant who wants to know the meaning of life.

God appears to the elephant in various guises—as a cloud, as a boulder, and once, it seems, as a golden pachyderm who touches the elephant's trunk with his own. Our elephant is suitably humbled.

God and the elephant are an impertinent pair, wise-cracking to beat the band while bantering about deeper issues. This God is wise, but not keen to impose: "I'm God, I'm not supposed to make things easy." He grants the elephant a papal audience, encourages him to fall in love, and tolerates his attempts to fly. All the while, he coaches the elephant with cryptic chat worthy of a Zen master.

All this doesn't help the elephant find the "answer," but it does help him accept his lot. That's as close to a moral as the narrative gets. This story is written as the gentlest of parodies, a no-nonsense God setting a bewildered elephant straight about life.

The Elephant Talks to God is set up like a children's tale, but the tone is adult and the elephant's dilemma too reflective for kids. The ending is abrupt. The Elephant Talks to God is simply a fable of sorts with modest ambitions, some clever writing, and an easy-to-take, tongue-in-cheek air. Taken none too seriously, it's a diverting read.

Doug Watling, West Credit Secondary School, Mississauga, Ont

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