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Brief Reviews
by Roger Burford Mason

TO BE HUMAN is to be unavoidably sad, Richard Teleky`s new collection of short fiction, Goodnight Sweetheart and Other Stories (Cormorant, 157 pages, $12.95 paper), tells us. Sad, but also wonderful. Here`s the family trying to cope with the grandmother`s Alzheimer`s disease, reluctantly, guiltily, committing her to a home. With one image, Teleky catches and commits the reader to the tragedy, as the old lady hums the song she sometimes dredges up from her disintegrating memory, the old danceband-era classic of parting lovers, "Goodnight Sweetheart." And here`s a simple album of domestic photographs of the late 1930s. The people in them are Japanese and the album was taken looted? - from a dead Japanese soldier by a Canadian soldier. Now the Canadian soldier`s son, who has always invested the photographs with a profound meaning and melancholy, is returning them to the family of the Japanese soldier after 40 years. He is griefstricken by their response. Teleky has a rich feeling for the complexities of human behaviour, and an engaging, uncensorious sympathy for our weaknesses and failings, though he is as quick to celebrate those brief illuminations of joy that make it all worthwhile. His best stories - "Rain for the Weekend," "Not in China," "Notes on Parking" - build subtly to a quite cathartic sadness and wonder, while the very best, "Tale of Woe," could serve as the story one would use to explain all human sadness and wonder, all human complexity, to the proverbial Martian.

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