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Caroline Woodward

Winlaw (B.C.), Polestar Press, 1990. 139pp, paper, $12.95, ISBN 0-919591-53-1.
Distributed by Raincoast Books, 112 East 3rd Ave., Vancouver, B.C. V5T1C8. CIP

Reviewed by S.A. McLennan McCue.

Volume 19 Number 3
1991 May

Every time a Canadian author publishes a first book it is a cause for celebration. Every writer offers to us a different point of view and with it the opportunity to sec ourselves in a different light. It doesn't always work out. Sometimes the point of view is one we simply can't understand. Sometimes the different light is more of a shadow. Caroline Woodward gives us cause to celebrate. Her first collection of short stories shows us life in a part of this country which has been little explored in fiction - the Peace River area of northern B.C. - and, along the way, she sheds a little light on the kind of people who live there.

The stories are uneven. In some, you wish she'd written a book because a story is too short. In one or two others you're not sure what it was she was trying but you know that she missed you on the way by. In "Summer Wages" Woodward captures a slice of reality for everyone who has ever waitressed in a greasy spoon in the middle of nowhere or eaten there. "Bleeding Like a Goddess" follows Tess and Cheryl through their big day at the Miss 4-H Fashion Queen contest at the Pacific National Exhibition and we know that this is what it's like. Less successful is "Renegade Hens." While the snapshot prose describes the individuals, both person and beast, quite effectively, the whole story never really pulls together and one is left wondering - why?

Disturbing the Peace should be added to any Canadian collection for its promise and for what it delivers. Its characters are interesting, its settings classic. In fact, given a little time and encouragement, Caroline Woodward may do for Peace River country what Alice Munro has done for small-town Ontario.

S.A. McLennan McCue, Ottawa, Ont.
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