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Kicks, John V.

Saskatoon. Thistledown Press. 1987. 78pp, paper. $6.95. ISBN 0-920633-38-2. CIP.

Grades 11 and up
Reviewed by Joanne K.A. Peters

Volume 16 Number 4
1988 July

Anyone who writes knows that, even when one is deeply engrossed in the process of writing, totally unrelated thoughts stray into the mind and temporarily distract the writer from the topic at hand. But sometimes they provide a much needed break for reflection. Side Glances is a collection of the stray thoughts a writer has when working on, thinking about, or writing a poem or story. Some are very brief and some are lengthy anecdotes, but all examine, question, reflect upon, and appreciate the art and craft of writing.

A writer of both poetry and short prose, Hicks offers suggestions for those working in both genres. The book contains everything from the highly practical (such as how to get more mileage out of carbon paper) to the imaginative (how to create the drama your characters will enact in a plot).

In Format, the book resembles a writer's diary or notebook, and its highly eclectic contents defy easy categorization. This presentation says something about the difficulty of shaping ideas to fit a particular form, a task all writers set themselves. Although part of the book's charm lies in the diverse nature of the ideas collected, the lack of any sort of organizing principle (other than a general theme for each chapter) is frustrating.

The writer's voice is amiable, engaging, and decidedly down-to-earth and the contents are attractively typeset, but Side Glances will probably find its readership limited to teachers of writing and to senior and university students seriously interested in learning the craft.

Joanne K.A. Peters, Sisler High School, Winnipeg, Man.
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