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Callaghan, Morley.

Toronto. Macmillan. 1988. 320pp, paper. $5.95. ISBN 0-7715-9277-9. (The Macmillan Paperback series #29). CIP

Reviewed by Elinor Kelly

Volume 16 Number 6
1988 November

Morley Callaghan's 1960 novel is now available in a new Macmillan paperback edition. Callaghan's writing has an important place in Canadian literature and the arrival of a new paperback of one of his major novels gives libraries a good opportunity to stock up.

How does this novel stand up after nearly thirty years? The theme of injured innocence is one that has not dated, and the parallel struggle of two men, each to prove his own innocence and to win justice in the eyes of the public, is as absorbing as ever.

Some readers say that they are put off by Callaghan's matter-of-fact style of writing, but it does seem to suit perfectly the setting of the streets and bars of Montreal and the kind of people who populate them.

The complaint of other readers who find the female characters unsatisfactory is well taken. The women seem to be there only to solace the men. The "good" ones don't and the "bad" ones do. The golden-hearted whore has been a literary cliché for too long a time. Nevertheless, those readers miss a truly thought-provoking and unsettling novel with an absorbingly complex plot and unforgettable portrayal of men caught in a destructive struggle for justice.

Elinor Kelly, Port Hope, Ont.
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