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Archambault, Gilles.

Ottawa, Oberon Press, c1986. 110pp. paper. ISBN 0-88750-621-6 (cloth) $23.95, 0-88750-622-4 (paper) $12.95.

Reviewed by Clare A. Darby

Volume 14 Number 5
1986 September

Standing Flight, the fourth of Gilles Archambault's novels to appear in English under the Oberon imprint, is the story of a not-so-young novelist (artist) undergoing a mid-life crisis. Julien, our anti-hero, is a man obsessed with running away. As a young man he used books to escape his lower-class surroundings in a poor section of Montreal. Now, as an author and journalist, he tries to leave both his job and his mistress. Ironically, his attempts at flight only lead him back to his old neighbourhood, his widowed mother, his drunkard uncle, and memories of his inept, insane father. Ultimately, the funeral of his uncle brings him face to face with the real reason for his flight, death. As the novel ends, he is seen running from the funeral home "like a madman."

Standing Flight is a nice paradoxical title for a novel on that ultimate paradox; in life there is death. The more Julien flees death, the closer he comes to it. unfortunately, the reader does not care if he escapes or not, for Julien is not a convincing character. His preoccupation with death is too morbid, too incapacitating, to be the standard flight pattern for the average man. So, while the style is imaginative, the era he remembers effectively portrayed, and the conclusion apt, there is too much psychology and not enough story in this character study. Not recommended for schools.

Clare A. Darby, Three Oaks S.H.S., Summerside, P.E.I.
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