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Edited by John Metcalf and Leon Rooke. Toronto, General Publishing, c1985. 260pp, paper, $5.95, ISBN 0-7736-7104-8. (New Press Canadian Classics).

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Ingrid Van Hausen

Volume 14 Number 2
1986 March

This collection of contemporary Canadian short stories is divided into three sections. The first, called arias, features sixteen very short offerings, at least one per author, by such writers as Shields, Atwood, Dragland, and Ondaatje, as well as several lesser-known scribes. The second section contains four longer short stories by Holz, Munro. Rosco, and Mistry. The last section consists of two short novels, never before published, by Evan Green and Ray Smith. Most of the shorter stories have been previously published in Fiddlehead or Malahat review or in Coach House publications. Except for P.K. Page, most of the authors were born after 1931. Patrick Roscoe is reported as being born in 1971, but I suspect this is a typo.

In true Canadian spirit, these mainly sombre stories range all over the globe. Our well-travelled authors give us a glimpse of modern India (Mistry's "Auspicious Occasions"), ancient Greece (Dragland's "Penelope's Dog"), a cynical modern Japan (Green's "Marginals"), fin de siècle Europe in all it's decadence (Smith's "The Continental"), and a grim near future (Atwood's "Bondage"). Shields and Munro write of more familiar territory. These stories are of a very high standard: almost without exception they are well written, offer excellent characterization, well-realized locale, and provocative insights. Though highly recommended for all libraries, this is not a teaching anthology suitable for high schools. Though there is no profanity, our senior students, but especially their teachers, may not yet be ready for such heady stuff.

Ingrid Van Hausen, Preston H.S., Preston, Ont.
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