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Gildas Jack Roberts

St. John's (Nfld.), Breakwater, 1991. 127pp, paper, $12.95
ISBN 1-55081-012-X. CIP

Grades 12 and up/Ages 17 and up
Reviewed by Floyd Spracklin.

Volume 19 Number 5
1991 October

Gildas Roberts, professor of English at Memorial University of Newfound­land, was born of Welsh parents in South Africa. His publications include translations of two epic poems: Beowulf and The Iliad of Dares Phrygius (Capetown: A.A.Balkema, 1970). Other works include the novels Seven Studies in English (Capetown: Burnell, 1971), Angels of God (Philadelphia: Dorrance, 1974), Chemical Eric (Bellvoir Books, 1974) and Lotus Man (Breakwater, 1983).

Timid university professor John Nicolson, by his own admission, is a "bachelor, indifferent scholar, prince of hypochondriacs." Who would ever think it possible that such a person could and would be swept into the realm of international espionage, kidnapping and intrigue? A likely hero Nicolson is not, but Gildas Roberts contrives such a tightly knit plot of high dramatic proportions and vivid imagery that once one has begun it, one can hardly put it to rest. However, there are moments when one wonders how it is possible for John Nicolson always to be where the action is just as it is happen­ing or about to happen.

Gander Snatch derives its name from Gander, Newfoundland, the "Cross­roads of the World" and before recent developments in Europe an interna­tional airport known infamously as the "crack in the Berlin Wall." It is here that John Nicolson makes the connection with the strange world of Maoist extremists that changes his own forever. Gander Snatch is set in 1960s St. John's, but could be anywhere at all, and for anyone suspecting this to be another "Newfoundland" novel, the lack of dialect makes it an easy read.

When John meets the Welsh poet and rebel Huw Morgan, the meek, unsure life of the bachelor professor is abruptly altered. John, with the help of Morgan and his family, learns quickly how to take care of himself and others. Nothing will ever be the same for John Nicolson. There's no going back- There are no perfect, tidy endings. But that's life!

Gander Snatch is best-seller material and well worth the read!

Floyd Spracklin, G.C. Rome Junior High School, Corner Brook, Nfld.
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