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Catholyn K. Jansen

Montreal, Vehicule Press, 1990. 176pp, paper, $12.95
ISBN 1-55065-012. CIP

Grades 11 and up/Ages 16 and up
Reviewed by Grace Shaw.

Volume 19 Number 4
1991 September

Catholyn Jansen's debut as a short story writer is a resounding success. In Birds of a Feather, an interlocking series of short stories, she vividly re-creates the life of working-class women in a small Ontario town. The reader resists some of the stories, particularly at the beginning. Motivations are too simple; do people really act that way? But the characters capture us. The women are vibrant, shocking but real as they fight to maintain their essence in a harsh world. They pulsate with life as do the hearts of the slaughtered turkeys.

These are women's stories, although the peripheral men are both victims and victimizers. Teachers prim and cold, ignorant and unfeeling, are part of a pale community which knows not and cares not about the women whose lives are centered on the turkey processing plant. A sucker is not one who is taken advantage of; a sucker is an independ­ent woman who siphons the lungs out of an endless line of turkeys, working with a killer, a tucker and a gutter. Images of blood are everywhere, symbols of life and death.

Meet these survivors and see the world; it will illuminate your own. This is a good read for teen and adult.

Grace Shaw, Vancouver Community College, Vancouver, B.C.
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