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Genni Gunn
Ottawa, Oberon Press, 1991. 84pp, paper, ISBN 0-88750-840-5 (cloth) $25.95, ISBN 0-88750-841-3 (paper) $12.95


Reviewed by David H. Elias & donalee Moulton.

Volume 20 Number 2
1992 March

According to the author, life for a female in a travelling rock band goes something like this: play * think about an old lover * have sex with a band member * play * think about a different old lover * have sex with a customer * go home for some time off * have sex with your sister's fiance * get back on the road * play * have sex with a female band member * ad nauseam.

In between all this sex and playing, there is time for intellectual reflection, as in,

What makes a woman pack a bag in the middle of the afternoon to take a taxi to the airport? A man who says ever, never, and forever. Trying to turn the infinite into the finite. And succeeding. I'm leaving aren't I? Indefinite and definite. Interesting how "in" is forever and "de" is specific. Although not when it come to "IN" love or "DElusion". But that's a different story. This one is finite.

DEep stuff.

There are occasional glimpses into other aspects of life on the road, but they always seem to boil down to the author's fixation with men and sex, as in:

There are five of us in our stage clothes (shiny, satin, silky, - all those s-sounds) to go with the lights and the illusions (like women).
There are microphones, basses, guitars, drums, sticks, organs - all the male genitalia reproduced in wood and metal - a constant erection. (The females are only passive receptacles in the walls that the males plug into.)

It really does get tiresome. A better title for this collection of stories might have been a line used by the author at one point: "My hormones are mutat­ing."

Wildly overpriced and silly.

David H. Elias, Winnipeg, Man.

On the Road, a series of interwoven short stories, follows a bass guitarist and singer as she travels the back (and forward) roads of Canada to play one rock 'n' roll gig after another. Genni Gunn expertly guides us through the physical and emotional rigours of the life on the road and of her main charac­ter, Selene.

Selene opens herself to us about the monotony of life as a rock musician and the predictability of relationships with men in a male world. But Gunn has given her main character the poetic power to do this with both compassion and insight:

The night-time parts, the playing hardly worth thinking about. A few road trips, when all the newness rubs off (not unlike a love affair) you are forever desensitized. People cease to be individuals; towns cease to have names; dates cease to exist. You are only aware of Mondays (when you set up) and Saturday nights (when you tear down and drive all night, all day, sometimes all night again). So it all comes down to first and last night (which is exactly all you ever remember of a love affair too). At least in this business, there is a paycheque on that last night. Well. Perhaps it's only the currency that differs.

The power that surfaces in this collection, like a blind corner you weren't expecting, comes from Gunn's ability to surprise us and simultane­ously reassure us that things are as we expect them to be. There is also power in reality, and Gunn has created a three-dimensional woman who hums her own tune at us through the pages of On the Road. We see Selene as she is, not as we would like her to be, or, indeed, even as she would like to be.

One highly effective technique used by Gunn is repetition - of words, phrases, images and even events. This literary device creates a sense of famili­arity and highlights the sameness of life on the road, indeed of life itself. Of course, it's a sameness that can be either comfortable or stultifying.

Genni Gunn's collection of short stories is neither. It's simply wonderful.

donalee Moulton, Halifax, N.S.
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