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Carol Malyon
Stratford (Ont.), Mercury Press, 1991. 120pp, paper, $11.95
ISBN 0-920544-79-7. CIP


Reviewed by Grace Y.K. Fatkin.

Volume 20 Number 2
1992 March

The Edge of the World, Carol Malyon's new collection of short stories, is about life from a feminine perspective. In stark, minimalist prose, Malyon sketches a tangle of complex - often bleak - human relationships. In most of the stories, the predominant theme is lack of communication causing the often tenuous links between spouses, siblings, parents and their children, friends - even strangers - to weaken or snap. Malyon focuses inward upon the thoughts of her protagonists in the midst of their daily activities, be they mundane or catastrophic.

The stories' protagonists are diverse and staunchly ordinary women: from the single Annie who dreams of the perfect man but finds numerous cheap imita­tions instead to the impossibly perfect wife/mother/co-worker Mrs. Len Kelly and Mrs. Johnson, whose husband has not spoken to her in ten years, so she speaks for both of them in pathetic imaginary scenarios. They view their lives passing them by, and all they can do is try to keep up.

For these women, survival is upper­most, love is often a luxury that is ill affordable, and sex an accepted necessary evil whose benefits have been mis-takenly touted. With a wry sense of humour and often deadly accuracy, Malyon takes aim at the daily stresses of life that over­whelm the unfulfilled hopes we have all cherished in the vain expectation of imminent change. But, as most of us do, Malyon's women pick themselves up and keep going in their quest to find their place in the scheme of life.

Students at the university level will find this collection a good sampling of vignettes drawn from lives of ordinary women. They will also find a fine example of the new trend towards terse, unadorned prose (spare to the point where the much used and is replaced by the efficient &).

In a society that worships pat answers and deifies pop philosophy, Malyon offers neither. Instead, she has crafted a collection of stories whose brevity does not pre-empt the complexities that layer them.

Grace Y.K. Fatkin, Walnut Grove Secondary School, Langley, B.C.
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