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Bauer, Nancy.

Ottawa, Oberon Press, 1988. 160pp. paper. ISBN 0-88750-693-3 (cloth) $25.95, 0-88750-694-1 (paper) $12.95.

Reviewed by Jerry McDonnell

Volume 16 Number 6
1988 November

What happens when a creative writing class tries to convert itself into a family? The group consists of everything from a former mental patient, her doctor and a blind photographer to the teacher. They all take accommodations in the same building or next door to it and try to continue the spirit of the class by holding communal suppers and support sessions. The group evolves into "the folk," an almost mystical body with a vague but higher purpose.

Still, there are tensions and conflicts. Some other residents of the building view the group with distrust and even hostility. Some relationships in the group develop and others stagnate. Relatives of group members have concerns and new members are added. Death deals a blow and so does illness. Can "the folk" survive all of this and does it make them a family or some kind of cult?

The style of the book is unusual, since it is in diary form. In the beginning there are separate entries written by each group member but by the end of the novel there is almost one perspective and one narrative. With the style as with the theme there are, perhaps, more questions than answers. The book is thoroughly stimulating if, at times, perplexing. It would be useful with senior high school students for supplementary study in English.

Jerry McDonnell, F. E. Madill Secondary School, Wingham, Ont.
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