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Blaise, Clark.

Markham (Ont.), Penguin, c1986. 184pp, paper, $7.95, ISBN 0-14-008234-4. (Penguin Short Fiction). CIP

Grade 12 and up
Reviewed by Grace Shaw

Volume 14 Number 4
1986 July

Ostensibly autobiographical, Blaise's Resident Alien is written for everyman about everyman. Continuing to explore the eternal themes of the displaced and alienated man in modern society, Blaise ranges North America, belonging nowhere. A litérateur and compelling raconteur, he blends fact and fiction. What are truths? Memories reconstructed, fantasized realities, or real fantasies?

A tripartition, Resident Alien divides into "The Voice of Unhousement," one autobiographical version of Blaise's life; "The Porter/Carrier Stories," of roaming the continent in his various lives, but never being connected; the chapter, "Translation," suddenly disembodied, carried by an external narrator; and the closing "Memories," returning to first person.

Born in the United States of French and English Canadian parents, Blaise is the perpetual outsider, viewing the cultural vagaries of North America with the fresh vision of the new boy on the block. Always the fiction of the outsider, the northerner in the South, the southerner in Montreal, with a vision hauntingly lonely, Blaise typifies the adapter, the assimilator, that many North Americans have been forced to become; "cultural larva with lungs for land and gills for water."

Thought-provoking and compassionate, yet charmingly entertaining, Resident Alien is not a book for everyone. It will appeal to literati everywhere and to adults who appreciate survivorship. A must for Blaise fans, it will surely create more.

Grace Shaw, Vancouver C.C., Vancouver, B.C.
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