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George McWhirter

Ottawa, Oberon Press, 1991. 130pp, paper, ISBN 0-88750-836-7 (cloth) $29.95, ISBN 0-88750-837-5 (paper) $15.95. CIP

Grades 7 and up/Ages 12 and up
Reviewed by Ellen Robson.

Volume 19 Number 5
1991 October

George McWhirter, born in Northern Ireland and now teaching creative writing at UBC, has written many poems arid stories unique in Canadian literature. Many pieces of his work are influenced by his travels and work in Latin America, Spain, Mexico and British Columbia, but this novel focuses on Northern Ireland on the 12th of July. The reader is aware of the Protestant-Catholic problem without McWhirter concentrating on the subject.

This novel examines the life of Martin Kerr, a flute player who gave up playing the flute after being fired from an orchestra in Europe and returned home to marry and now plays the tuba in his father-in-law's brass band. His story is told by his father, who cannot understand his son's actions and to whom the playing of the flute is akin to religious worship. After Mr. Kerr steps in to break up a fight between his son and the father-in-law during the Orangemen's Parade, Mr. Kerr, his son and a friend escape in a delivery van. They end up at Carnalea, the estate of Mr. P. Fortey, a patron of the arts, who decides to teach Martin a lesson and forces him to play the flute. Plans go awry but the father does come to an understanding of his son.

McWhirter provides an interesting read with great effort put into details of setting and events of this one day. At times a pinch of humour enlightens the rather sad story of old Mr. Kerr and his son as well as the emotionally repressed Protestants in the story. This short novel will have a limited appeal in Canadian schools but can be easily read by any young adult or adult.

Ellen Robson, Winston Churchill Collegiate Institute, Scarborough, Ont.
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