________________ CM . . . . Volume V Number 1 . . . . September 4, 1998

cover Down the Unmarked Roads.

Joan Finnigan.
Burnstown, ON: General Store Publishing House, 1997.
196 pp, paper, $18.95.
ISBN 1-896182-73-9.

Review by Willa Walsh.

**1/2 /4


"They asked the Quebeckers if they approved of the Meech Accord and forty-one percent said they did. The other fifty-nine percent said they preferred the Honda Civic." (p. 92)

In her entire eight months teaching Sara had never once grown weary of feasting her eyes. Elmgrove No. 5 sat beside Highway 148 on the narrow plateau which rolled down to the Eardley Flats and the wide mighty Ottawa River. (p. 100)

It is also quite quite true that Dodie Denton, the dentist's wife, one Hallowe'en got all masqueraded up in a black coat and face mask with nothing, absolutely nothing, on underneath, and came to his door as a caller. When Denton answered the door, she threw open her black coat and said, "Trick or treat!"(p. 141)

The above short excerpts give some idea of the content and tone of this volume of short stories. The book reads like a rural, Canadian, version of Tom Jones with the same ribald humour, the rollicking parade of "memorable" characters, the gossipy tone, and the characteristic episodic sequence of events. Most of the stories are situated in the Ottawa Valley, a region well known to the author, and the landscape is revealed in a believable and authentic manner. Some stories are outright farce as "The Opening of the Hunting Season in South Porcupine," and others are poignant and nostalgic memoirs as "The Road Between and River and the Mountain." What welds them together is the landscape and the Canadian ethos. Although the characters seem overblown and exaggerated at times, they have an impact as real people living out their own unique stories.

      Every possible topic of interest to Canadians is touched upon as the stories unfold-the changing economy, the labyrinth of Canadian politics, the eternal and bitter "Quebec" question, the construction industry, the feminist movement, hockey, etc. All of this is delivered as a 'slice of life' in past and present-day Ontario. This book would appeal to adults, especially those living in Ontario. My favourite was the hilarious send-up of the Canadian film industry-replete with outrageous characters miscast in a disastrous scenario in rural Ontario-trying to create the Great Canadian Film on a $200,000 budget! It all makes enjoyable light reading, but does not add up to a first, or even second, choice for a school library. The content of the stories would not be appealing to a large number of teenage readers-the stories are almost exclusively about adults, usually in their middle age, and they deal with adult themes.

      The author has written twenty-eight books and has been nominated for some of the country's top writing awards.

Recommended for public libraries.

Willa Walsh, the Senior Editor of B.C.'s Bookmark, is also teacher-librarian at McNair School in Richmond, BC.

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