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Flood, Cynthia.

Vancouver, Talonbooks. 1987. 165pp, paper, $10.95. ISBN 0-88922-249-5. CIP

Grades 11 and up
Reviewed by Kathryn Broughton

Volume 16 Number 5
1988 September

This splendid book of short fiction introduces readers to an elegant writer who brings compassion and perception to her work. The stories cover the gamut of human experience, including that of very young children, who are vulnerable to adult thoughtlessness. "Neighbours" is told from the point of view of four-year-old Jerry and his five-year-old brother, Mike, as they attempt to fathom the goings-on in the households on cither side of their own. In "Imperatives," seven-year-old Nicola finds herself in an agonizing dilemma-she cannot go to school without a pen, and her impoverished parents cannot replace her lost pen.

The middle-aged have their turn in “Twoscore and Five," the story of two women, friends for many years, "each gazing at the mystery of the other's life." "Roses Are Red" is about a middle-aged mother-to-be attending a pre-natal class; a nasty father in the group gets his come-uppance in a surprising, rather brutal manner.

In other stories, the elderly take precedence. In "Porridge and Silver," Mrs. Reilly copes with the curtailment of her activities with as much verve as she can muster, while Harry in the title story, wafting between past and present, endures a disconcerting confusion of mind. One story, "A Young Girl Typist Ran to Smolny: Notes for a Film," is unusual in style and wonderfully effective.

These stories are the product of a mature, thoughtful, intelligent mind; the collection is a must purchase for the short fiction section of a school library.

Kathryn Broughton, Thornhill, Ont.
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