THE BIRTH CONTROL KING OF THE UPPER VOLTA
Volume 11 Number 3.
In "Gin and Tonic," the last of the eight stories in Birth Control King, Rebecca, inspired by a swarm of mating gnats and a youngster's oboe music, dreams of the Garden of Eden:
Several hundred men, no larger than bees,
But Rebecca, her lovely hand cut, her blue raincoat torn, her friend Estelle gone away, does not despair. She goes home, has a quiet smoke, makes herself a gin and tonic, and thinks about tomorrow.
Rebecca, like many of the other characters in this wonderful volume, is a dreamer. And because she is a dreamer she is not a quitter. She follows Adlai's advice to Hedgepolt in the title story: "Dream the dreams. . .Dare to be God!"
Although the world is rather small and squalid and cruel, many of the characters find the courage to dream and dare. Adlai in the title story finds the courage to repudiate his mam's impossible expectation that he take up the Birth Control King's mission to stop the irrepressible black hordes from Africa. Adlai's final vision frees him:
What I was seeing was deep water and over the
Measure Adlai's vision against Rebecca's, and it becomes obvious that Rooke's stories are not simply individual stories collected in a volume. They are related in theme and mood, in image and symbol, in fantasy and horror. The heroes are healers, the villains are sadists.
If you liked Death Suite,** Fat Woman* or Last One Home Sleeps in the Yellow Bed, you will love The Birth Control King of the Upper Volta. Readers unfamiliar with Rooke should be warned, though: ask what it all means and Rooke might just reach out from a story and give your leg one last pull.
Be fruitfly and multiply.
*Reviewed vol. X/4 November 1982 p.234.
Boh Kinczyk, Central Elgin BC, St. Thomas, ON.
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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