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Edited by David Helwig and Sandra Martin. Ottawa, Oberon Press, c1986. 215pp, paper, ISBN 0-88750-638-0 (cloth) $23.95, 0-88750-639-9 (paper) $12.95.

Reviewed by Barbara J. Graham

Volume 15 Number 2
1987 March

This most recent version of an annual anthology, designed to display the best Canadian short stories of the year, is a mixed bag as always, containing examples of the writing of such well-known authors as Alice Munro, Leon Rooke, and Bharati Mukherjee, as well as those new to the field or genre. Patrick Lane, well known for his poetry, writes a tantalizing and painful tale of a husband and wife's failure to communicate in the metaphorical story, "Rabbits." Alice Munro's "Miles City, Montana," also available in her own The Progress of Love,* begins with a memory of the death of a drowned boy and moves to the traumatic experience of the possible death by drowning of the narrator's own child. Munro raises philosophical questions about death and life.

In other stories, a young Indian wife struggles with her own identity and tradition in New York City; a Canadian woman on holiday discovers Santa Chiara, Saint Francis, and herself while in Assisi; Mary a, on a flight to the village of Attiwapiskat on the James Bay coast, has almost to lose her life in order to find it; Jane Seymour, who really is not Jane Seymour, becomes obsessed with Hein-rich Himmler, and commits suicide; a David and Jonathan relationship between a Zulu and a white African leads to a peculiar blend of extortion and good works; the mental breakdown of a young mother leads to the potential murder of her children; and an excruciating odyssey of a poverty-stricken couple searching for better circumstances (the husband is a brute, the wife strong, but suffering), ends in a suicide. Not much joy for the spirit in this collection, however well written. Young people would have little with which to empathize, and much to puzzle over in this troubling collection. For mature reading.

Barbara J. Graham, Board of Education for the City of London, London, Ont.

* Reviewed vol. XV/1 January 1987.

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