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Watmough, David.

Oakville (Ont.). Mosaic Press, c1986. 125pp, paper, ISBN 0-88962-340-6 (cloth) $17.95, 0-88962-339-2 (paper) $8.95. CIP

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Bohdan Kinczyk

Volume 15 Number 3
1987 May

In "It Takes One to Know One," the last of the eleven stories in this collection, Davey Bryant has coffee with an eccentric old couple, Sidney and Carolyn Carr, who entertain Davey with wild stories of their heroic exploits during World War II. The stories grow curiouser and curiouser, chopped short at times because the O.S.A. (the Official Secrets Act) padlocks their loquacious tongues. One tale has them in Greenland introducing the fierce timber wolves to docile Norwegian Elkhounds in an attempt to mate the two and thus "modify the volpine ferocity and….come up with a gentler wolf.” The wolves, naturally, are hostile to human involvement “and even in the act of copulation would bite [Mrs. Carr] when she was merely trying to assist.” In one swift motion Mrs. Carr whips up her skirt and brandishes her arm, showing the scars. Exit Davey Bryant.

A few months later, a curious vibration in time occurs, and Davey meets Monique Marie Benoit, another eccentric autobiographer: "She spoke of 10 Downing Street as if it were her local pub and of prime ministers, lords of commerce and industry and members of both Houses of Parliament, as the bread and butter of her social life." Soon Davey embarks on a course of mischief and tries to catch her up in her own tangled web. A clever story, and perhaps somewhat confessional. It takes one to know one, as if Watmough is saying, "Look, I'm just a teller of tall tales.”

But mostly they are not tall tales. Mostly they sound autobiographical and weary, Davey Bryant in his gay middle age, finding himself on the downward slope. I did not particularly like this book, and normally I am a Watmough fan. Davey Bryant's anger is gone, his hurt is gone, his energy is gone. If I were Watmough I would stuff Bryant back into the closet. And I would find myself a new protagonist.

Bohdan Kinczyk, Central Elgin C.I., St. Thomas, Ont.
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