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Ondaatje, Michael.

Toronto, McClelland & Stewart, 1987. 244pp, cloth, $22.50, ISBN 0-7710-6887-5 CIP.

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Margaret MacLean

Volume 15 Number 6
1987 November

Ondaatje has published fiction, autobiography, and award-winning poetry and has produced film and drama. In In the Skin of a Lion, he writes fiction. The story begins as far back as the early years of this century on the farms and in the logging camps of north-eastern Ontario although the larger part of the action centres around Toronto during the twenties and thirties. The rich and powerful are peripheral but necessary to sharpen by contrast the details of the lives of the men who are the heroes. The labourers came largely from Eastern Europe but the central figure, Patrick Lewis, was born in Ontario of English-speaking parents.

Ondaatje links labour violence, theft, and petty crime in general to the abuse of labour by industrialists and government works programs alike. The "Jackal" capitalist gets death in the old logging-camp town in a house without furniture after two decades of chosen but senseless hermit existence with the girl. The old, old saw of misogyny as it has appeared in fiction since fiction began, I suppose, is confirmed here as our hero "gets" both girls.

In the Skin of a Lion is suitable for senior high school students of Canadian literature and for public library collections.

Margaret MacLean, Central Technical School, Toronto, Ont.
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