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Toronto, McClelland & Stewart, 1990. 255pp, paper, $16.95
ISBN 0-7710-4431-3. CIP

Grades 11 and up/ Ages 16 and up
Reviewed by Katheryn Broughton.

Volume 18 Number 6
1990 November

The writers in this collection are contenders for James A. Michener's $10,000 Journey Prize, which is funded by royalties from the Canadian edition of his novel Journey. Michener desig­nated these monies to the "support of talented writers in the early stages of their careers." Submissions for the collection were made by editors of literary journals from across Canada.

Many of these writers are prize­winners, and some names are familiar: Margaret Dyment, Cynthia Flood, Douglas Glover, Kenneth Radu. Author biographies and information about the contributing journals are located at the end of the book.

Topics and form range widely. "Billfrith, the Dreamer" by Virgil Burnett is a myth concerning a man who is turned to stone while attempting penance for his misdeeds. In contrast, native writer Thomas King tells of four-year-old Jonathan, who is obsessed by his desire to own a dog. ("The dog I wish I had, I would call it Helen.") Conversations between the child and his reluctant mother are a delightfully accurate depiction of toddler single-mindedness.

While most of the selections are set in Canada, "Let Them Say" by Jennifer Mitton is the tale of an African woman (a second wife) whose husband has ceased speaking to her. Against all tradition, she leaves, saying, "If I have sinned a thousand times to be born a woman, what is one more?" Glen Alien sets his story ("The Hua Guofeng Memorial Warehouse") in China, where bureaucracy places a dissident intellec­tual in an asylum. Here, he finds refuge and satisfying friendships with other academics similarly incarcerated.

Stories out of Canada's past include Wayne Tefs' Depression story "Red Rock and After," in which a young son reacts to his father's two bankruptcies. Cynthia Flood ("My Father Took a Cake to France") evokes the young romantic academic from Ontario who evolved into a bitter University of Toronto professor, profoundly disappointed by his failure to achieve a post in Europe.

Not all the stories will appeal (e.g., Andre Alexis' "Despair: Five Stories of Ottawa") but the collection as a whole is excellent, providing a welcome encoun­ter with newer voices.


Katheryn Broughton, Thomhill, Ont.
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