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M.A.C. Farrant

Saskatoon (Sask.), Thistledown Press, 1991. 96pp, paper,$16.00
ISBN 0-920633-83-8. CIP

Grades 12 and up/Ages 17 and up
Reviewed by Katheryn Broughton.

Volume 19 Number 6
1991 November

This small collection (the author's first) consists of eleven stories, many of which have been published previously in literary magazines. In each selection, the characters arc people living on the edge of the lower middle class. Most are struggling to achieve a little more that mere survival.

Sybilla, featured in the first two titles, is a welfare mother accustomed to condescension. However, in the title story, she tries to save an ailing pigeon, and in "Stealing George" she reluctantly goes with her friend, Cindy, to take Cindy's sick baby from the hospital. Her priorities may be skewed, but she exhibits her love for her children, friends and animals even as she rails against any and all authority.

"The Loneliest Sound You'll Ever Hear" is the haunting whistle of a train embodied by protagonist Jimmy Silvey, who knows the loneliness of a drifter with no purpose in his life. The essen­tial "apartness" of the human condition is movingly explored here. The search for meaning in "All the Good and Beautiful Forces" is a vivid portrayal of drug-induced contentment, also a solitary experience.

Each of the final three stories has food as its title. "Macaroni and Cheese" is stream-of-consciousness in style with the female protagonist desperately trying to cope with her husband's despair over the loss of his job and the fact that they are "nouveau poor." "Club Sandwich" enters the confused mind-set of an alcoholic who is in­dulged by her husband, while "French Fries" is the story of a young mother enjoying the freedom of stopping at a fast-food outlet without husband and children; "Men never know the sweet cage we mothers are imprisoned in."

The stories are well written with strong language (which could offend), vivid imagery and evocative mood.


Katheryn Broughton, Thornhill, Ont.
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