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Edited by Beverley Daurio

Stratford (Ont.), Mercury Press, 1990. 168pp, paper, $12.95, ISBN 0-929544075-4.
Distributed by Mercury Press, Box 446, Stratford, Ontario N5A 6T3. CIP

Reviewed by Joan Kerrigan.

Volume 19 Number 3
1991 May

This anthology is aptly titled. There is very little joy to be found in this collection of short pieces; the themes are almost universally depressing. These Canadian writers sometimes write as expatriates, and sometimes as though they wish they were expatriates!

Nonetheless, it is exciting to have an opportunity to read material by writers who have the courage and talent to write in innovative ways about off-beat topics. Some of the selections are beyond the understanding or interest of most secondary school students, but there are exceptions such as a poignant story by Norbert Ruebsaat entitled "Nazis." During times such as the present, the following passage has particular relevance:

It was strange and creepy to sit in school and be able to understand the language of Nazis. I never told the teacher about my thoughts. I was too scared. I thought that my telling her I understood them would make her think I was one of them. What if she found out I had an uncle who I was named after and who looked like me, even now, and who might have been - who people said was, whose body was maybe, partly, deep inside itself where it couldn't feel or hear or listen any more - a Nazi? His voice kept calling me from inside, wanting to tell me its story.

Some of the selections, including "Burrowing" by Stuart Pods Ross, are in the realm of poetry, and some are almost incomprehensible. But isn't that what "ground-breaking" fiction is all about? An English teacher at the senior level could make excellent use of this unusual collection in a creative writing course.

I could wish for a better cover. My copy of this very light beige paperback is grubby looking already. But maybe that is an indication that the collection deserved the pondering which it received from this reviewer.

Joan Kerrigan, Ontario Ministry of Education, Toronto, Ont.
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