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SEPTEMBER CHRISTMAS

Saunders, Gary L.
St. John's, Breakwater, 1992. 109pp, paper, $14.95, ISBN 1-55081-013-8. CIP


Adult/Secondary

Reviewed by Marion Scott

Volume 20 Number 5
1992 October


Christmas, its meaning, memories and traditions, is the subject of this collection of essays twelve in all by Maritime writer Gary Saunders. Saunders has written extensively for magazines, and has had two books, Rattles and Steadies: Memoirs of a Gander River Man (1986) and Alder Music (1989), published by Breakwater. Nine of these essays have appeared over the years in The Atlantic Advocate. Now, with the addition of three new pieces, they have been gathered into book form.

Saunders' focus is on family and community sharing and celebration. His prose is evocative and the mood often nostalgic. Even when the mood turns serious, the underlying note is one of optimism. The selections are eclectic. Included are memories of Christmas as a boy in 1940s Newfoundland, an old man's story of a 1913 Christmas at Hudson Bay, the history behind Nova Scotia's annual gift to Boston of a giant Christmas tree, an interview with a modem-day Santa, and musings on the commercialization of the holiday.

He is at his best with reminiscences. A false and overly sentimental note is struck only in the two fiction pieces "Flowers for Tomas" (a Black child experiences his first snowfall) and "A Mossback Remembers" (an old man ponders a Christmas where he will be dependent on his children).

The title has merit, both as a Christmas collection and as Canadiana, but it is for an adult collection. It is definitely not a children's book, and the tone and perspective put it outside the interest of most teens.

I would recommend it for adult collections seeking to add to their Christmas material or for libraries in areas where Saunders' work is familiar. I would notcommend it for children's or young people's collections in either school or public libraries.


Marion Scott is a children's librarian at the Pape l Danforth Branch, Toronto Public Library, in Toronto, Ontario

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