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Bowers, Rick.

Porters Lake (N.S.), Pottersfield Press, c1986. 106pp, paper, $8.95, ISBN 0-919001-31-9. CIP

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Clare A. Darby

Volume 15 Number 1
1987 January

The Governor of Prince Edward Island is Rick Bowers's first book of fiction. More specifically, it is a collection often short stories, three of which have been recently published elsewhere. The stories are all set on Prince Edward Island and the Island setting is very effectively and realistically rendered. Fortunately, these stories of ordinary people living "lives of quiet desperation" transcend the bounds of time and place and the bonds of narrow regionalism that mar so many collections of Canadian stories. Like Margaret Laurence and Alice Munro before him, Bowers has transformed local, everyday concerns into universal, eternal questions. The formula he uses is the time-honoured one of accurate, realistic, detailed description, coupled with common sense psychological insight into the human condition.

But it was his immediate surroundings that attracted his attention most fully. He watched as Uncle Teddy recorded the day's weather on the Co-op calendar. Grandpa rocked in the chair by the window, read the newspaper. Grandma sat by the light on the table, looked through a couple of pamphlets left by the New Testament Crusaders. Ron was struck again by what he felt he had always known, that all their days upon the earth were numbered: Grandpa's, his, Marcia's, everybody upon the earth living at that very moment. . .everybody who had ever lived. He felt he had plenty more days to go, though, and kissed his grandmother on his way up to bed.

The style is deceptively simple. The characters, ranging from a young boy experiencing the joys and pangs of first love to an old man coming to terms with the only disgrace of his life, are clearly and empathetically drawn. The plots are straightforward, relying for effect upon quiet epiphanies rather than gaudy reversals. High schools offering courses in Canadian literature and/or Canadian studies should add this item to their collection.

Clare A. Darby, Three Oaks S.H.S., Summerside, P.E.I.
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