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Edited by David Helwig and Sandra Martin. Ottawa, Oberon Press, c1985. 195pp, paper, ISBN 0-88750-589-9 (cloth) $23.95, 0-88750-590-2 (paper) $12.95.

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Clare A. Darby

Volume 14 Number 2
1986 March

85: Best Canadian Stories, an anthology of eleven short stories edited by David Helwig and Sandra Martin, contains selections by Edna Alford, Sheldon Currie, Marian Engel, Douglas Glover, Marion Johnson, W.P. Kinsella, Norman Levine, Joyce Marshall, Janet Rule, Robert Sherrin, and Carol Windley. This year's collection, the fifteenth edition of a series published annually since 1971, is dedicated to the late Marian Engel. Not surprisingly, her story, "Under the Hill," is the best in the anthology. Unlike many of the others, this one develops its central characters with ease and invests them with humanity. A similar comment could be applied to W.P. Kinsella's "I Pay My Rent" and Sheldon Currie's "The Accident." Unfortunately, most of the other stories fall victim to Douglas Glover's protagonist's apology for his story-telling ability in "Dog Attempts to Drown Man in Saskatoon": "Traditional story writers compose a beginning, a middle and an end, string these together in a continuity as if there were some whole that they represented. Whereas I am writing fragments and discursive circumlocutions about an object that may not be complete or may be infinite." Such philosophical observations, couched in purple prose, abound in many of the stories. But memorable characters and plots are nowhere to be found. By and large, the average high school student will find little of interest in this work.

Clare A. Darby, Three Oaks S.H.S., Summerside, P.E.I.
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