________________ CM . . . . Volume IV Number 14 . . . . March 13, 1998

cover The Best of Canadian Fiction Magazine: Silver Anniversary Anthology.

Edited by Geoff Hancock.
Kingston, ON: Quarry Press, 1997.
400 pp., quality pbk, $19.95.
ISBN 1-55082-178-4

Subject Headings:
Canadian fiction-20th century.
Short stories, Canadian-20th century.

Grades 11 and up / Ages 16 and up.
Review by Mary Thomas.

**** /4

The first thing that strikes the reader about this book is its size and its quality. At 400 large-format pages, it is a big book, but the binding is supple, and it opens easily even to the initial and final pages. This feature is as unusual as it is appreciated. The second impact comes from the table of contents: W.P. Kinsella, Mavis Gallant, Jane Urquhart, Rohinton Mistry, Barbara Gowdey ... the list goes on and includes practically every well known writer of short fiction in Canada. Then the content. The volume begins with two essays by Geoff Hancock, the first (short) on the history of CFM and the second on the difference between story and fiction, Canadian fiction in particular. "A fiction, unlike a story, suggests that all knowledge is ambiguous." It follows, therefore, that these pieces of fiction, taken from the list of Contributors' Prize winners over the twenty-five years from the inception of CFM to the publishing of this volume, will not necessarily follow an ordered sequence of events, develop a major character, and provide any resolution of a stated (or implied) problem.

      And they don't. In Five wheelchairs by Jane Urquhart the wheelchair is, successively, a launching pad, a prison, a fulfillment, a home, and an inspiration - five scenarios, loosely linked. Patrick Roscoe's The scent of young girls dying features an old woman as the link between life and death, until death itself becomes the life of the village. The watcher, by Guy Vanderhaeghe, explores power through the eyes of the most powerless - a young child.

      It may be possible to draw themes and trends out of this collection of fiction, but it would require more knowledge of modernism, post-modernism, deconstructionism, etc. than I am prepared to lay claim to. These are interesting, provocative, and stimulating glimpses of where Canadian fiction is and has been, and, if it is not a comfortable place, it is certainly interesting!

Highly recommended.

Mary Thomas works in several of Winnipeg's elementary school libraries and says she knows more about children's than adult literature.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © 1998 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364