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Holley Rubinsky

Winlaw (B.C.), Polestar Press, 1990. 190pp, paper, $12.95
ISBN 0-919591-56-6. CIP

Reviewed by Katheryn Broughton.

Volume 19 Number 3
1991 May

Rubinsky's exploration of the underside of society is at once compel­ling and repellent. The brutality, exploitation, violence, rage and grief of existence at the edge are vividly brought to life in these stories. The author won the Journey Prize in 1989 for the title selection.

The collection is divided into three sections. The first ("Harriet Mary Dawn") consists of three connected stories and concerns the protagonist at three crisis points in her difficult life. In "Groundings," which includes an explicit molestation scene, Harriet responds to the pleas of a disturbed teenage girl and suffers from guilt as a result. These are painful, bleak tales.

The six selections in Section II ("Lost and Found") are linked by most pro­tagonists' inability to make connections in their lives and by the surprise that a few of them inexplicably are able to so. In "Coast Highway," Dian's daughter Andy is retarded and her difficult behaviour is jeopardizing her mother's new marriage. Andy takes off and a frantic search fails to locate her. "My daughter" concerns an illiterate woman who is in the process of learning to speak and write properly, undoubtedly a laudable ambition. Yet it is abun­dantly clear that her capacity for love and for facing her own reality may save her as well as the children who benefit from her generosity.

Section III ("California") concerns a hippie commune; each story appears to end in destruction and death. Bleakness prevails.

These stories are extremely well crafted and leave an indelible impres­sion. Because of explicit sex scenes in several of the stories, the collection is recommended for adults only.

Katheryn Broughton, Thornhill, Ont.
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