CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Hekkanen, Ernest.

Saskatoon, Thistledown Press, 1988. 151pp, paper, $14.95, ISBN 0-920633-45-5. CIP

Reviewed by Judy Baxter

Volume 17 Number 1
1989 January

When first glancing at the cover of The Violent Lavender Beast, one might mistake the book for science fiction. On the cover, a huge purple animal consumes a sun while a woman rushes screaming from a burning house below. The drawing actually refers to the final story of the collection. In this story, a man comes home to find his family living amid the putrid stench of rotting rats. We discover that these stories are not science fiction but are concerned with very real circumstances. It is the emotions of the characters described that seem to reach extraordinary limits.

Each story begins fairly calmly by setting an ordinary scene. In "View across the Meadow," for example, two women go to a cottage on a summer vacation. The serenity of the outdoor landscape is finely detailed. On more than one occasion the women admire the beauty of some eagles flying overhead. Eventually, however, the women discover that the birds are not eagles but vultures hungrily surveying the scene next door. Here, a neighbouring family stands in their yard skinning a horde of freshly killed rabbits. The peaceful mood is sustained until the last lines. Finally, the lovely oasis is shattered by death. The treatment of these narratives is imaginative but at times it is also confusing. It is not clearly evident whether shock value is the only effect desired. By way of exploring the darkest thoughts of his characters, the author takes commonplace circumstances to the most bizarre extremes. A disturbing collection for older high school and adult readers.

Judy Baxter, Wychwood Library, Toronto, Ont.
line indexes


1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


The materials in this archive are copyright © The Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission Copyright information for reviewers

Young Canada Works