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Letters to Editor

Publishing Figures

IN His April column, Michael Coren states "there were more than 50,000 books published in this country last year." Since the comparable US figure is 70,000, this assertion must be wildly wrong (5,000 perhaps? A printing error?). Your comment would be appreciated.

Barry Brent


Editors' Note: Many Canadian publishers act as agents for foreign firms whose books they in effect "publish" in Canada, which produces the more than 50,000 figure. In terms of books actually produced here, 5,000 is indeed about right.




DAN BORTOLOTTI takes the prize for hyperbole about typos in reviewing Cyril Dabydeen's Jogging in Havana ("On Location," May). I have read Cyril Dabydeen in the small magazines for years. I note the Ottawa Citizen described Jogging in Havana as "a lively collection of stories" and praised individual stories for their "improvisatory jazz-like energy, coolness and integrity." The CBC-Radio reviewer Alvina Ruprecht also praised the book.

The Jamaica Gleaner said of Jogging in Havana: "The ideas are wide-ranging and absorbingly told with the skill of a poet and yet without the metaphors being overdone, but sufficiently different from flat prose to make them exciting to read."

The negative view of the book presented by Mr. Bortolotti is even more astonishing considering that seven of the 11 stories previously appeared in magazines such as the Canadian Fiction Magazine, the Fiddlehead, the New Quarterly, the Dalhousie Review, and the Toronto South Asian Review. One story, "The Rink," has been anthologized by two leading publishers - Prentice-Hall and Holt. The editors of all the above attest to the quality of Dabydeen's fiction.

Punctuation, either as dashes, colons, ellipses, or other, is sometimes used in remarkable ways to reflect a writer's pacing and the magic of creation. Your reviewer's sarcastic reference to James Joyce is sheer idiocy. Dabydeen is a postcolonial writer, a fact that Bortolotti should have recognized.

M. Schwarz


I READ Cyril Dabydeen's stories as "Work in Progress" in the February issue of Books of Canada with much interest. I also recently read his Jogging in Havana and admired the warmth of characters from the Caribbean and South America, their colloquial vigour, dialect, and inner rhythms, which one doesn't often read about in mainstream Canadian fiction.

Dabydeen is one of the few people writing so honestly and with integrity about Black and white relations in a changing Canada. Did the stories in Jogging in Havana touch a raw nerve in your reviewer? His wild exaggerations about the book's "faults" are depressing. And truly disappointing.

Stan Persaud

Bramalea, Ont.


Burnham in Flames

REGARDING Clint Burnham's scathing review of my collection of lyrics, Summer Grass, in your summer poetry column: now that I have some grasp of Mr. Burnham's criteria for judging a poem, I can't help delighting a little in the vehemence of his opprobrium.

Marianne Bluger


Ideological Extremism

I SEE NO point in replying to vituperative letters ("Character Assassination, May) that illustrate precisely the ideological extremism I was criticizing in my original review; however I do want to point out that I reviewed Bronwen Wallace's book posthumously because it was published posthumously; I would have been happy to debate journalism and feminism with Wallace herself had the opportunity ever arisen. Are we to discuss a writer's ideas only during her lifetime, or not at all?

Heather Robertson


Letters may be edited for length or to delete potentially libellous statements. Except in extraordinary circumstances, letters of more than 500 words will not be accepted for publication.


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