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Kinsella, W.P.

Don Mills (Ont.),Totem, c1986. 190pp, paper, $9.95, ISBN 0-00-223118-2.CIP

Reviewed by Ted Monkhouse

Volume 15 Number 1
1987 January

These thirteen stories are hilarious and great fun. However, they can be read on many levels. It is difficult to determine whether Kinsella is making fun of this tribe of Alberta Indians or the white people they are so devoted to taking for everything they can. The main characters are a bunch of good ol' boys completely lacking any Western standards or values. They just revel in milking the government, or indeed any agency, of everything possible, and then end up squandering it. When newspapers tell us of the government pouring so much tax money into the Indian reserves these stories assure the white man that it is a bottomless pit. The rich visual images and poignant conversation perpetuate what this white man hopes is just a myth, i.e., an aimless, uneducated, unsophisticated, simple-minded people. Whether breaking into Buckingham Palace and visiting the Queen in her bedroom, or buying and managing a bankrupt baseball team, or reporting on the Pope's visit, or generally just being accidents looking for a place to happen, these characters carry on in a world where there is no right or wrong. The makings of an entertaining TV series is here, but imagine the outcry. Indian hillbillies running amuck.

Kinsella, born outside Edmonton, Alberta, fifty-one years ago, has been writing from age six. His life of varied odd jobs changed with the publication and sale of his stories in 1977, after which he was persuaded to take a masters degree at the University of Iowa. He also taught creative writing at the University of Calgary from 1978 to 1983. He now divides his time between homes in Iowa City and White Rock, British Columbia, from where he follows the major league baseball circuit. Shoeless Joe,* Dance Me Outside (Oberon, 1977), Moccasin Telegraph (Penguin, 1984), and Thrill of the Grass,** among others, precede this work, as do many literary awards.

The Fencepost Chronicles is for the mature reader, not just because of the natural language of the characters, but for the subject matter, which could be controversially misconstrued.

Ted Monkhouse, Wellington County Board of Education, Guelph, Ont.

*Reviewed vol.XI/1 January 1983 p.16.
**Reviewed vol. Xlll/l January 1985 p.14.

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