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Bowering, George.

Ottawa, Oberon Press, c1985. 152pp, paper, ISBN 0-88750-580-5 (cloth) $23.95, 0-88750-581-3 (paper) $12.95.

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Robert E. Wheeler

Volume 14 Number 3
1986 May

Spurning logical discourse, the entries in this book are alphabetically arranged, thereby preserving order, but not discursive sequence. There is a welcome freedom from stuffy constraint, plus the usual Bowering fondness for blithe whimsicality. Snippets of ideas abound, gleaned from a supple and audaciously untrammeled mind. CanLit is stripped of its halo and an irreverent tone, perhaps objectionable to some, is deemed quite compatible with the divine afflatus.

The author raises significant questions concerning the writer's vocation. He shows how new approaches are required by a changing culture. There are provocative statements relating to the importance of poetry in a cynical and disenchanted age. Several noted writers are given individual attention: Milton Acorn, Al Purdy, Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, and Jack Kerouac, that famous vagabond of beatific adventure. Along with more academic views, there are unfettered opinions on creative writing and the earnest "finding one's own voice school." Honesty and self-discipline come in for high praise. Bowering feels that learning one's craft must be combined with learning to be a human being. Habit and conformity breed inner servitude. It is to be remembered, however, that pattern and structure are necessary to civilized life.

I believe that youthful readers may profit from Bowering's volume. Certain passages border on triteness, and when surrounded by a sudden flash of insight, remind the reader of banality among the angels. The ultimate impression, however, is one of assurance and liberation. If properly read, the book's message will transcend library shelves and a way be prepared for a happier tomorrow. Conceivably, there will be other books inspired by its example, further questions, and more enlightened answers. Bowering puts it very simply: "To be honest about the world you have to include yourself in it. You do not go slumming."

It is this attitude that confers memorable status upon an author who refuses to believe that a genteel survey course in some fashionable college is the quickest way to achieve international prestige. The novice can only be helped by such uncompromising integrity, as will be people with a deep respect tor language and people who care about others and the thoughts and feelings circulated by our society.

Robert E. Wheeler,Ganonoque, Ont.
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