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Skelton, Robin.

Erin (Ont.). Porcupine's Quill. 1987. 166pp, paper. $9.95, ISBN 0-88984-100-4. Distributed by Firefly Books.

Grades 9 to 13
Reviewed by K. Broughton

Volume 16 Number 1
1988 January

This enjoyable collection of short stories consists of twenty-four stories ranging from four to ten pages in length: many of the stories have no particular time or place, while in others, the setting is definitely the west coast of Canada.

Each story has its own particular interest and charm. Some have wonderfully unexpected endings. An example is "A Case of Conformity," in which the protagonist is so unable to differentiate between himself and his surroundings that his obsession with gardening leads to a desire "to sleep in the earth like a vegetable."

In other stories, such as "The Watchdog," the atmosphere is eerie. While house-sit ting for a friend, the protagonist is somewhat unnerved to find that the resident stuffed dog quite literally acts as a guard, standing outside his closed bedroom door and even following him on walks. As if this is not bizarre enough, in the last sentence of the story, the reader is really taken back. It is as though the author carries the reader along with his narrative and then says to himself, "If I have managed to lure you this far, try this on!"

These stories are well Grafted and imaginatively "far-out"; they are accessible to a wide range of readers. The collection is particularly suitable for the reluctant reader, due partly to the brevity of each story and partly to the strong story line. There is very little character development-as is common in this literary formóbut each story serves as a fine example of plot development and atmosphere.

K. Broughton, York Mills Collegiate Institute, North York, Ont.
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