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Jim Freedman
Toronto, Groundwood Books/Douglas &McIntyre,1991. 143pp, galley, $7.95
ISBN 0-88899-138-X. CIP

Grades 7 to 9/Ages 12 to 14

Reviewed by Margaret Mackey.

Volume 19 Number 4
1991 September

One Hand Clapping contains two settings and two stories. The first is familiar territory: Andrew loves Amanda but Amanda seems to be involved with his older brother, Deke. George, the high school bully, is causing problems for Andrew at school. Mom is dead.

The link with the second setting is Dad. Dad is a keen meditator and has organized a trip to a Zen monastery in Japan for himself and his sons. Deke refuses to go, but Dad and Andrew spend a month in retreat, doing hard, humble work and mulling over obscure Zen riddles called koans.

There is no mistaking the enthusiasm of the author for his subject. The book contains a great deal of information about Zen, more or less palatably inscribed in the story. Unfortunately, what is questionable is the author's writing skill. Sentence structure is monotonous, characterization is thin, and the jump from North America to Japan and then back again is overly abrupt.

However, anyone interested in the topic of Zen would find this book enjoyable, as might someone looking for a change from the standard plot of brothers turning against each other.

Margaret Mackey, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alta
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