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TRAVELIN LIGHT: A DOZEN ENCOUNTERS

Jim Christy.

Toronto, Simon & Pierre, c1983.
164pp, paper, $9.95.
ISBN 88924-119-8.


Post-Secondary.
Reviewed by Anne Locatelli.

Volume 12 Number 5
1984 September


Jim Christy was born in the United States but is a Canadian citizen; when he is not travelling all over the world to fulfill his journalistic pursuits, he resides in Vancouver. A versatile writer, Christy’s works of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction has been published in books, journals and magazines in Canada, the United States and Europe. Streethearts,* his last book, was a finalist for the Books in Canada First Novel Award, and was hailed for its "freshness and humour" (Maclean's), "precise and evocative description" (Books in Canada), and "clear sighted understanding" (Canadian Book Review Annual, 1981).

By nature a wanderer, Mr. Christy roamed the world as a young man supporting himself by whatever expedient he could find: Travelin Light is a diary that highlights both his roaming and a dozen significant encounters he made while on the road from the Amazon to the Yukon, including his own way of life, his habitual involvement with drugs, booze, prostitution, poverty, and violence. His talent for disturbingly presenting descriptive detail led him to evoke pervasively through-'out his writings the sights, sounds, and smells of the milieux he frequented. This practice provides his readers with crudely stark but powerful glimpses into the seamier sides of street-wise life. His characters are sometimes moving, sometimes revolting; however, they are always very earthly human. As we look at them through Christy's eyes a sense of universal despair, linked to pity, touches our heart, while a profound consciousness of the individual's innermost feelings emerges to catch our attention and move us to ponder. The language he uses fits the people he describes: it is predictably crude and vulgar. Cursive, journalistic style and much dialogue provide even livelier treatment of the material. If you are planning to purchase this book be sure to check pages 39 and 40: in my copy they are identical and the real page 40 is missing altogether. The reinforced paperback binding and the attractive layout are definite assets. Because of the strong nature of this book, I would recommend it for adult reading only.

*Reviewed vol. XII/2 March 1984 p.60


Anne Locatelli, Elliot Lake S. S., Elliot Lake, ON.
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