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Edited by David Watmough. Winlaw (B.C.), Polestar Press, c1985. 198pp, paper $12.95, ISBN 0-919591-05-1. Distributed by Polestar Press, R.R. 1. Winlaw, B.C., V0G 2J0.

Grades 10 and up
Reviewed by William F. Benson

Volume 14 Number 5
1986 September

I eagerly began reading David Watmough's edited collection of short stories, Vancouver Fiction. Having lived in Vancouver for several years, like many in Western Canada, I had high expectations of the evoking and romancing of the best west coast city in North America. Possibly my expectations were too high, or maybe my mind was set to expect a different type of story, because I found this selection extremely poor. With a few exceptions, these are stories that could as easily be set in Toronto as in Vancouver. The rain and the lush growth of Vancouver are well represented, and the occasional local name, like the Whitecaps and Kerrisdale, are included, which definitely centers the story, but besides this, the stories seem more intent on process than on celebration. This collection was published to celebrate Vancouver's centennial, a hundred years of life and looking towards the future. Instead it reads more like a dirge celebrating the demise of literary life in Vancouver.

Surely Vancouver, home and haven for hundreds of writers during the last one hundred years, can produce a heller selection of writers or stories than this. Stories that are interesting and enjoyable to read. The selection is not a total wasteland, though. Jane Rule, Audrey Thomas, and Betty Lamberi are represented by stories that save this book from total disaster. Perhaps David Watmough should have stuck to female west coast authors if he wanted this to be a successful publication.

This is a book worth skipping around in if you are given a copy. It is not one of those books thai you should rush out and get a copy of immediately. In fact, perhaps you should wait for the next edition in 2086.

William F. Benson, Alexander Park School, Golden, B.C.
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