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Ken Mitchell

Saskatoon (Sask.), Fifth House Publish­ers, 1990. 95pp, paper, $10.95
ISBN 0-920079-67-9. CIP

Grades 10 and up/Ages 15 and up
Reviewed by Pat Bolger.

Volume 19 Number 2
1991 March

Jaanus Karkulainen's ability to make anything he needs on his homestead - clothes, a sewing machine, even a thresher - enabled him to survive the Depression, but did not please his neighbours, already disturbed by his eccentricities. His dream of building a ship and sailing it back to Finland ended in a failed attempt to drag it across the prairie to a river too shallow to float it - and to action by those who had decided that he was crazy.

The characters include Jaanus' brother with his anglicized surname and "Canadian" wife, a hypocritical politi­cian, and another homesteader who begins to share the dream of the ship. The realistic dialogue contrasts with the poetic speech of Anna-Marie, a young woman who functions with an on-stage chorus to comment on the action: "Atop the great ship's cabin lay the carcass of his final horse, a flame of stink and blue flies."

Based on an actual incident, Mitchell's play will move young adults with its vivid description of Jaanus' obsession and the suffering of his neighbours, victims of drought and depression. High school libraries will find this handsomely produced volume a valuable addition to the Canadian drama shelf.


Pat Bolger, Renfrew, Ont.
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1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


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