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Edited by Geoff Hancock

Saskatoon, Thistledown Press, 1991. 313pp, paper, $18.50
ISBN 0-920633-77-3. CIP

Reviewed by Katheryn Broughton.

Volume 19 Number 4
1991 September

This collection celebrates the short story in its incredible variety through the works of twenty-two of Canada's newer writers. The editor aptly de­scribes the stories as "a self-portrait, a cross-section of the Canadian imagina­tion."

The dark side of life provides the impetus for several titles, one of which is Alford's "Garden of Eloise Loon." A worm infestation which covers every­thing, both indoors and out, in a writhing mass, is a fitting background for the wandering mind of a woman who is abandoned, starving and about to give birth.

Fantasy is represented by Stephen Guppy's "Portrait of Helena Leafly, with Bees." Helena's initials as a girl arc H.E.L.P.; upon marriage, they (propheti­cally) become H.E.L.L She silently resents her husband, whose business is the production of honey, but only by transforming herself into a swarm of bees is she able to confront him and engage his attention.

The non-European Canadian voice includes Nourbese Philip's "Bad Words," in which young Miranda practices obscenities which she plans to declaim as a declaration of her human­ity, even though she is black.

Examples of unusual form include Arnason's intriguing "short" short story ("Do Astronauts Have Sex Fantasies?"), which consists entirely of questions. Fawcett, in "The Franz Kafka Memorial Room," interweaves reportage on an eccentric teacher with musings on the nature of the short story as a literary genre.

Possibly the most powerful of the titles is Flood's "Roses are Red," in which a rather nasty, condescending expectant father gets his come-uppance when he is forced to play the female role in the pre-natal class "dress rehearsal" lesson. This denouement is brutal and disturbing, yet fair.

This is just a sample of the variety to be found in this excellent collection, which will be enjoyed by the adult reader.

Katheryn Broughton, Thornhill, Ont.
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