CM Archive
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Selected by Robert Weaver

Don Mills (Ont.), Oxford University Press, 1991. 257pp, paper, $14.95
ISBN 0-19-540738-5. CIP

Grades 10 and up/Ages 15 and up
Reviewed by Wills Walsh.

Volume 19 Number 4
1991 September

This collection of seventeen Cana­dian short stories reflects the variety and uniqueness of Canadian culture in general. Current topics and past memories furnish viable themes for the stories as they act as a ray of light on aspects of Canadian life. Margaret Atwood's "Age of Lead" unites past and present with its concern for the environ­ment, and Norman Levine's "Something Happened Here" reminisces about Canada's contribution in World War II.

Concerns of the 1980s are a focus for some of the stories - family abuse, mid-life crises, Alzheimer's disease, and communication between the sexes. New formats, as well as new topics, are represented in this selection. Cynthia Flood's story is more like a movie script and Diane Schoemperlen's "Red Plaid Shirt" presents flashes of a woman's life through the colours of her clothes - a poetic metaphor.

All of the stories were written in the late 1980s or 1990 and are by authors of recognized merit, some of whom excel in the short story format. Alice Munro and W.D. Valgardson are examples of these. Women writers dominate this collection and provide a dramatic shift from the first series, published in 1960 (Oxford University Press), which was largely the work of male authors. It is, therefore, appropriate that the beautiful cover painting is by Mary Pratt, an artist equal in talent to her more famous husband, Christopher, but much less recognized.

This is an excellent collection for high school libraries and a necessary addition to any Canadian literature collection. The title would be particularly appro­priate for English courses concentrating on the short story format. The physical appearance is attractive, the print readable, and my only criticism is the number of annoying typos that slipped by the editors - a disappointment for such a reputable press.


Wills Walsh, McNair Senior Secondary School, Richmond, B.C.
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