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George McWhirter
Ottawa, Oberon Press, 1991. 118pp, paper, ISBN 0-88750-852-9 (paper) $11.95, ISBN 0-88750-851-0 (cloth) $23.95. CIP

Adult / Secondary

Reviewed by Janice Vaudry.

Volume 20 Number 2
1992 March

Unlike many current writings set in Belfast, A Bad Day to be Winning is not filled with the I.R.A., accounts of bomb­ings or religious tension. It is filled with descriptions of daily life for a group of Ulster Protestants. The author promotes his work in such a way that the reader expects a book of comparisons: between men and women, Catholics and Protes­tants, Canadians and Irish. In this we are disappointed. Such an approach would be refreshing and thought provoking, but the author's desire to demonstrate that the human situation is the same on the streets of Belfast as "on any street in Canada" falls just short of the mark

Taken at face value without looking for hidden comparisons, this book is enjoyable. The characters in the various chapters take us from Easter 1944 for­wards in time, and back as well in mem­ories to World War I. The characters themselves range from Maggie McCullough, who is continually seeking to improve her family's appearance, to James Cantwell McGowan, a retired school master, now worn-out columnist, to Andy, whose dogs finally only win at the track the day his mother dies. Some chapters could be read on their own as short stories. Each is individually titled, and although some characters reappear as a thread linking them, there is also a well-chosen variety of people for us to meet.

As with any piece of literature, this is probably best read simply for enjoy­ment. If one wants, it could be used in conjunction with a novel like The Luck of Ginger Coffey by Brian Moore to create discussion on the Irish in Canada. It need not be restricted to literature classes, but may be used along with other literary works by history teachers to aid in developing a broader outlook on the Irish question.


Janice Vaudry, Lennoxville, Que.
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