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Vivienne Clarke.

Toronto, Simon & Pierre, c1983.
157pp, paper, $9.95.
ISBN 0-88924-1244.

Grades 10 and up.
Reviewed by Anne Locatelli.

Volume 12 Number 3
1984 May

Travelling, helping people in third world countries, learning about different traditions and ways of life, all this is "living" for Vivienne Clarke. Clarke and her husband Alien had just retired after managing a resort on British Columbia's Galiano Island for many years, when one day she read about CESO in Time magazine. Reading the short write-up drastically changed the couple's retirement plans. CESO (Canadian Executive Services Overseas) is a non-profit organization designed to recruit retired business people to work on assignments, for periods varying from a few weeks to a few months, without salary. These volunteers are expected to be able to cope with the demands of the jobs, assigned in accordance with their field of expertise. CESO does provide return air fare and other travelling expenses, while the host company supplies room and board.

In Let's Die Living, Clarke tells about some of their assignments: the countries and the people they became involved with, the predictable and the unpredictable situations they encountered, some horrible and others hilarious, all in a clear descriptive style and a great sense of humour. In a breathtaking sequence we are transported from colourful Jamaica where stealing was just "tek-king," to tropical, multicultural Malaysia, to a unique teaching experience in Borneo, back home to Bella Bella northern British Columbia for a job with Canadian Indians, then on to Barbados to solve such problems as, "What to do if you have a dining-room full of guests and no bread in the kitchen?," to Iran where language was a problem and communication a real challenge, ro Brasil in the wettest of all rainy seasons, to El Salvador where the job proved to be close to impossible to do, and finally to Costa Rica where they enjoyed the unforgettable experience of seeing the big turtles at work in their egg-laying season.

Clarke is an established Canadian author: Witchin in the Kitchen, a book of recipes, was published in 1968 and Big Profits for Littlehiltons, a helpful manual for hotel managers, in 1975. Her enthusiasm is catchy, her description of places, of people, of different realities, provide the reader with a valuable experience. Many are bound to enjoy Let's Die Living, a little book packed with information: travellers and arm-chair travellers, the young and the young at heart. Witty black-and-white sketches, a preface, a prologue, and an epilogue complement the narrative; a sturdy paper binding and an attractive layout are additional assets. I recommend this book for the high school library; already I look forward to the next volume in this promising series.

Anne Locatelli, Elliot Lake S. S., Elliot Lake, ON.
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