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Most Subjective CLINT BURNHAM`s review of Robert J. Sawyer`s Foreigner ("Brief Reviews," March) is the kind of review that is a disservice to reader and writer alike. He is reviewing an SF novel, yet puzzlingly states that the touchstones for "greatness" in the genre are the works of Judith Merril and Kim Stanley Robinson. Regarding the former: what works is he talking about? Can he name one novel? Ms. Merril garnered her reputation as an anthologist and promoter of the genre, not as a "great" writer. And Mr. Robinson`s work only began to appear in the mid-`80s, and as such, the jury is still out regarding its "greatness." Perplexed by these yardsticks, I glanced at the contributors` page, only to learn that the reviewer`s latest publication is Fatal Femmes: The Poetry of Lynn Crosbie, and am further struck by the strangeness of choice of a reviewer for the book in question. In a 200-word review, 70 of which introduce the above-mentioned epitomes, Burnham decides that the book "fails" because it creates a world that is "insufficiently different" and at the same time "way too strange" (sounds like a nice blend to some ears), citing examples that could easily be applied to the works of J. R. R. Tolkien or Philip K. Dick. I confess I remain unenlightened about the worth of the book from the reviewer`s delineation of it, nor am I convinced that it will not have an appreciative audience elsewhere. This is one of the most subjective little reviews that I`ve read in ages -- a fact virtually acknowledged by Mr. Burnham himself when he actually wishes that he could point to "something objective" to support his feelings. In its way, it is as idiosyncratic as Brian Fawcett`s recent review of W. P. Kinsella`s work in your magazine. I know Books in Canada can do better than this. Terence M. Green Toronto Our Mistake THANK You for your review of In the Garden ("Children`s Books," February). However, we would like to make a correction. The book was illustrated by Anne Hanley, not Meguido Zola. Meguido is listed as a co-author with Carolyn Mamchur. We take care in designing our covers, and we feel that this information is quite clear. We appreciate the opportunity to clear this up. James Beauchamp Pemmican Publications Winnipeg We Are Not Amused PLEASE, PLEASE, please keep Victoria Branden away from Canadian male writers "Get That Grin Off Your Face!" (February), her supposedly witty analysis of famous Canadian women authors, was one of the dreariest chunks of Calvinist posturing I`ve come across in many a year. According to Vicky, "unless you are a sweaty adolescent or a neurotic Voyeur, 11 all erotic writing "is dreary and tedious." 1, for one, am neither. Sure, sex sells books. So do violence, mystery, tension, gossip, and humour. But most of all, what sells books is a strong story, something the reader can become completely absorbed in. From John Updike through Agatha Christie to joy Fielding it`s the same old story: keep`em enchanted. Certainly, you`ll not get much hot writing from Laurence, Atwood, Engel, etc. They`re all fine writers, but they`re from the wrong generation. They all hail from a time when the sex drive was denied and the orgasm constituted a virtual mystery. They grew up in a pleasure-denying Protestant culture, where only the sinful found satisfaction. For a post-sexual revolution look at sexuality as experienced by Canadian women, one has to look to the likes of Barbara Gowdy, Ann Diamond, Ann Ireland, and Evelyn Lau. What`s holding most literary writers back from eroticism is fear of having their work labelled "pornography." Don`t forget: only the sinful enjoy sex. It`s assumed that if you have a big buildup to a sex scene, the execution of which is then delineated in two lines, you are somehow more serious and literary, but if you have a short build-up and a detailed denouement you`re somehow second rate. The times are changing, but slowly. As usual the Yanks are just ahead of us on this one: for writing that`s both real and riskily lubricious I`d heartily recommend Vox by Nicholson Baker, The Autobiography of My Body by David Guy, and Men by Margaret Diehl. Meanwhile, please assign Ms. Branden to, say, a timely reassessment of the relevance of Stephen Leacock. Gordon Phinn Streetsville, Ont. VICTORIA BRANDEN says that sex scenes in fiction are "monotonous, repetitive, unoriginal, and boring, boring, boring," and so she has saved me the hassle of thinking of adjectives to describe her own essay. What is worse, though, after I dragged myself through her affected, mannered, faux-chic writing style, is her opinion that sex is not worth writing about in fiction because we all already know how it is done anyway. This is a dangerous and old-fashioned view because it implies that one of the purposes of art is to teach us things. Art should not teach but excite in the most generic and comprehensive sense of the word, and anyone who wants to learn. anything should consult a good encyclopedia. I would prefer to read excellent fiction about sex -- or about folding laundry -- than bad fiction that was presuming to teach me something. Wayne ones Ottawa SURELY Victoria Branden doesn`t expect us to take seriously a theory that closely examines only two women writers, especially when both are white and EnglishCanadian. Not only does she make statements about Canadian women writers in general while concentrating on only two, but her supporting evidence is sloppy. Ms. Branden missed the point when she read the scene in The Diviners in which the Harlequin-romance line is uttered. Brooke Skelton, as a character written by Margaret Laurence, is exactly the kind of man who would say something this trite and expect to be taken seriously. The reader is Supposed to groan, but at the character and not the creator. Ms. Branden briefly mentions Margaret Atwood by praising the comedic sex scene of Lady Oracle, then lamenting the dreariness of Cat`s Eye. She has forgotten that much of Lady Oracle concerns a "dreary" little girl who stuffs herself with food because the other girls pick on her. Ms. Branden doesn`t bother with innumerable other women writers, most noticeably Alice Munro. Perhaps Alice Munro doesn`t fit Ms. Branden`s "hamhanded and club-footed" description? The cover promised "Victoria Branden on Sex, Gloom, & CanLit." Is CanLit composed of only two white women? J. L. Newton Victoria, B.C. ...Or Are We? THREE CHEERS and a passionate kiss for Victoria Branden for her piece on sex and gloom in the February issue. To paraphrase her quote from a tacky line in The Diviners: "I`ve been wanting to say that for a long time." But if I or any ordinary slob challenges the credentials of a Great Canadian Writer, or questions the axiom Of Litter freedom of choice in matters of sex, we`re labelled 11 conservative" or even "religious." And among the elite, what more despised creature could you be than either of these? Paul R. Sheppard Brockville, Ont. Letters may be edited for length or to delete potentialIy libellous statements. Except in extraordinary circumstances, letters of" more than 500 words will not be accepted for publication.

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