CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Levine, Norman.

Markharn (Ont.), Penguin Books, c1984. 253pp, paper, $6.95, ISBN 0-14-007255-1. (Penguin Short Fiction) CIP

Grades 10 and up
Reviewed by Tony Cosier

Volume 13 Number 1
1985 January

In this selection from previously published collections, Norman Levine describes a number of thinly disguised, semi-autobiographical personae. The stories are set in a seaside residence in England, where he has written professionally and lived with his family, and in Canada, where he has his roots as a writer, gathering material, reminiscing and promoting his work alone.

Levine seems to reveal himself with absolute candour: lies and infidelities run side by side with compassion. Describing a writer's career from the beginning stages through the lean years to final success, he presents some interesting documentary insights into the writer's life. The reader tours the literary spectrum, from the complex anthill of the little magazines, to the banalities of academe and the plastic world of the media.

Levine has a flat, deadpan style that goes well with his melancholy bent. Several stories in Champagne Barn sketch a delicate penumbra around a well-loved person who is ill; some end with the toppling of buildings that are rich in associations, others with funerals, with "acres of emptiness that lay frozen all around." The reader's heart goes out to the family playing Ringa Ringa Rosie in an attempt to laugh away its poverty, and to Mister Bischofswerder who attends a tiny snyagogue all alone for several years.

Levine is thorough in his evocation of the settings in his stories. Most memorable are the detailed pictures of Lower Town in Ottawa, where the author spent his boyhood. The text begins and ends with Lower Town pieces: it is a comforting arrangement.

Tony Cosier, Confederation H.S., Nepean, Ont.
line indexes


1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


The materials in this archive are copyright © The Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission Copyright information for reviewers

Young Canada Works