________________ CM . . . . Volume IV Number 17 . . . . April 24, 1998

Cover The Crying Jesus.

R. P. MacIntyre.
Saskatoon, SK: Thistledown Press, 1997.
133 pp., paper, $13.95.
ISBN 1-985449-70-7.

Grades 9 and up / Ages 14 and up.
Review by Darleen Golke.

**** /4


"I don't understand cats.

I have a theory though - and it's not that far fetched - that cats are extra-terrestrials, stuck here on earth; that we're unable to communicate with them because of their vastly superior intelligence. They try, but their purrs and meows are incomprehensible to us. You can see it in their eyes - they're designed for space travel, and cats can be in two places at once - spontaneous molecular transmigration - like how Scotty beams up Spock - either that or they travel at the speed of light."

In this second collection of short stories for young adults, R. P. MacIntyre continues the standard he set in winning the 1993 Vicki Metcalf Short Story Award for "The Rink" as he presents an assortment of young protagonists facing real and imagined dilemmas and conflicts. Of the 11 stories, all but two have male narrators, and all but one is written in the first person. The predominately male perspective reflects the confusion, ambivalence, sadness, and joy of emerging adults.

      In the title story, "The Crying Jesus," 17-year- old Luc's devoutly Catholic family celebrates the "taking of vows" of his sister, the saintly Alisa. Luc acknowledges he is "not an out-and-out atheist" because he "has not made up [his] mind yet"; however, his raging hormones brand him a sinner in religious terms. When Alisa begs his forgiveness for a childhood transgression, he decides to lie almost convincingly; likewise, she agrees not to pray for him.

      Often with painful clarity, the stories reflect universal themes of death and loss, love and hate, religion, sexuality, relationships, and family dynamics which show young people bridging the gap between childhood and adulthood and losing innocence.

      MacIntyre's style is direct and often wryly humourous like his comments about cats in the excerpt from "Ways of Killing Pepper." The prairies provide the setting for the stories although Penny's quest in "Eating with the Dead" leads her to Mexico. The protagonist's experiences and insights merit Jesus' tears: Cynthia, in "Cursing Shane," faces stalking; Penny copes with death and anorexia; Mike, in "The Code," cannot seem to escape "the team" because "nobody quits a hockey team"; Kevin, in "Mona With the White Lips," deals with alcoholism. A mystical quality emerges as the stories progress with Cynthia's "Cursing Shane," Heman's fire-walking in "Sleeping in the Nude," the restless spirit of the dead in "Hitler's Hands," and the visions and Elvis-sightings in "The Apprentice." MacIntyre integrates the mundane with the bizarre in his portrayal of the characters and events.

      Finding selections that appeal to male adolescent readers often challenges teachers and librarians. The collection of stories in The Crying Jesus should assist in meeting that challenge.

Highly recommended.

Darleen Golke is the teacher-librarian at Fort Richmond Collegiate in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © 1998 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364