Better than Life

by Margaret Gunning
ISBN: 1896300693

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A Review of: Better than Life
by W.P. Kinsella

Better than Life is a good Southern novel, Southern Ontario that is. Reminiscent of Lee Smith's Fancy Strut, this story moves relentlessly toward a celebration, the 90th birthday of Min Connar. Min is a controlling old matriarch who regularly feigns death in order to keep her henpecked son Aubrey in line. The Connar clan is divided into two camps several miles apart, camps that have not exchanged a word for many years, and don't really recall why they are feuding anyway. Small town life with all its eccentricities, pettiness, and mean-spiritedness is captured in often hilarious detail.
Aubrey receives a letter from a young man who claims to be his son, the product for a brief high school relationship. Aubrey decides to ignore the letter. A charismatic young man who is not taking his lithium, a hippie (in an era when hippies were highly distrusted), arrives in town and after bringing an unconscious cat "back to life," and giving sound nutritional advice to an arthritis sufferer that improves his health, takes on the aura of a Christ figure to the impressionable locals anxious for anything to alleviate their boredom, and The Church of Bob springs up around him. A happy ending, perhaps too easy, is inevitable, but there are many laughs and chuckles along the way.

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