CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

W. K. Nelson.

Markham (ON), PaperJacks, c1982.
269pp, paper, $3.95.
ISBN 0-7701-0215-8.

Grades 12 and up.
Reviewed by Dave Chadwick.

Volume 10 Number 4.
1982 November.

According to Hugh MacLennan, this is the age of airport novels. Vanilla Road is a typical airport novel that professes to be based upon a true story. As pulp fiction, it is passable, but it is not suitable for school libraries. The author went to Mexico as a young tourist, only to be kidnapped, held for ransom, and then tortured. His account of the harrowing adventure and escape form the basis of the novel.

The details of the kidnapping scheme are both shocking and difficult to believe. A well-organized gang kidnapped tourists, sold their belongings, and forced them to cable back home for a paltry $200, which was called bail money. The degree of organization exhibited by the gang compared with the meagre returns of their exploits stretch credibility. As a pot boiler, the novel moves fast enough until the escape, when it becomes tiresome.

Mexicans, in the author's view, are almost without exception bad characters. He sums up his view early on when he says, "They're all a bunch of crooks anyway." He repeats this theme numerous times and barely resists telling one Mexican that Americans rightly distrust all Mexicans. This bias alone should keep the book out of school libraries. The author's attitude towards women is surprisingly condescending considering the fact that we are supposed to identify with him. He refers to women as "chicks" and "broads" and complains at some length about the alleged ugliness of one Mexican woman. In short, the novel is recommended for airports and subways only.

Dave Chadwick, Norway House H. S., Norway House, MB
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