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THE THIRD MACMILLAN ANTHOLOGY

Edited by John Metcalf and Kent Thompson
Toronto, Macmillan, 1990. 288pp, paper, $16.95, ISBN 0-7715-9308-2. CIP


Adult

Reviewed by Sharon A. McLennan McCue

Volume 18 Number 5
1990 September


Sequels are tough. Everybody says it. This volume is evidence of how, using roughly the same formula, one can end up with a very different product. Admittedly, the Second Macmillan Anthology had the advantage of a few heavyweights like Alice Munro and Carol Shields, but its lesser known writers, like Thomas King, delighted the reader with a sense of discovery and the possibility of more to come. Would that one had the same sense at the end of this volume.

The serendipity of the previous volume has been replaced by an overwhelming sense of "why bother?" in this one. That is not to say that there is anything in this volume that is outstandingly bad, but, while reading much of this book, I felt that my time might be better spent (taking out the garbage, balancing my chequebook, etc.). This is exemplified by Dayv James-French's navel-gazing piece "The Day J. Edgar Hoover Died," which I might like if he were my best friend and I knew who the thinly disguised characters were. But he isn't and I don't, so I was left with the same feeling I have when I am stuck on a bus behind a couple of university students discussing their personal lives.

The best part of this collection is the non-fiction. Tony German's "Bloody Brits" is an engaging memoir of coming up against a colonialist attitude. It ended far too soon. "The Year in Review" discusses the Canlit scene over the past year and is written by Kevin Connolly, Michael Darling and Fraser Sutherlan. Their pieces are lucid and thought provoking a fine way to close a volume because they leave the reviewer thinking... "Well, maybe it wasn't so bad after all."

The Third Macmillan Anthology isn't so bad, it just isn't nearly as good as the second one. But if you have a Canadian collection, and if you don't read anything else in it, savour Tony German's delightful morsel.


Sharon A. McLennan McCue, Ottawa, Ont.

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