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Book Reviews in August 2001 Issue

Glottal Stop:101 Poems
by Paul Celan translated by Nicolai Popov & Heather McHugh

University of New England
192 pages $37.95 cloth
ISBN: 0819564486
Book Review
Celan's 101 Poems¨Translating the Ineffable
by Diana Fitzgerald Bryden
Translation is a loving art. While all writers confront the fact that they'll never be entirely satisfied with the end result, translators are burdened with the sense of having failed someone other than themselves. Nicolai Popov and Heather McHugh must be dissatisfied with some aspects of their translations of Paul Celan (a near certainty supported by the fact that they jettisoned a third of their work), but for them a sense of pride in Glottal Stop would be fully justified.
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Carr, O'Keeffe, Kahlo Places of Their Own
by Sharyn Rohlfsen Udall

Yale University Press
366 pages $45 paper
ISBN: 0300079583
Book Review
Carr, O'Keeffe and Kahlo.Inspired by Places and Myths
by Nancy Wigston
Unlike most books, this one has an odd, even challenging aura: pale, tall, and narrow, with sideways printing on the front cover. In a way its exterior mirrors the women artists author Sharyn Udall chooses to examine: each one eccentric, tenacious, original. Inside is a treasure of first-rate illustrations, and a wealth of engaging commentary.
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Fairy Ring translated by Fred Reed and David Homel
by Martine Desjardins

Talon Books
223 pages $18.95 paper
ISBN: 0889224498
Book Review
Point du vue
by David Homel
Martine Desjardins, contrary to most French Quebec writers, began her first novel, Le cercle de Clara, in English. The reason was one of inspiration and serendipity. As a girl, she used to spend her summers on Prince Edward Island, this being a rarity in itself, because outside of the "petits QuTbecs" in Old Orchard, Maine or Hollywood, Florida, a vacation outside of Quebec for French-speaking families was (and largely still is) something unusual
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Ice Lake
by John Farrow

HarperCollins
382 pages $32 Cloth
ISBN: 0002255146
Book Review
Moral Inquiry Kept Active by Detective Cinq-Mars
by Keith Nickson
The English just love a literary tempest in a teapot. Starting in thespring and sputtering on through the summer, critics for such decent publications as The Observer, The New Statesmen and Granta harrumphed about¨wait for it¨the 'death of the English novel.' Yes, it sounds like a case of dTja vu all over again, but the key argument is worth noting.
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The War Against ClichT: Essays and Reviews 1971 ű 2000
by Martin Amis

Knopf Canada
506 pages $39.95 paper
ISBN: 067697404X
Book Review
A Critique of a Critic. T. F. Rigelhof Takes on Amis in the War Against ClichT
by T. F. Rigelhof
Spending three or so weeks in Britain each year is more time than I ever need to become irritated, exasperated, and finally bored by English newspapers in all their sections¨except for ŠSports' where the actual standard of play still gets reported. (If a match was rubbish, they do say so.) Otherwise, the broadsheets are much of a muchness and give columns of opinion precedence over reportage in a way that's becoming overly-familiar to Canadian readers, thanks to the National Post
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Milton Acorn: In Love and Anger
by Richard Lemm

Carleton University Press
279 pages $43.73 hardcover
ISBN: 0886293405
Book Review
Acorn, Lemm and Ojibway. A Recollection of Milton Acorn
by Richard Lemm
I first met Milton Acorn in the early sixties when I was a freshman at McGill, just arrived in Montreal from a small town in the Laurentians and beginning to discover that there were poets in the world beside the three Williams and a few others who colonized the high school curriculum. There were even Canadian poets, I learned, apart from John MacRae.
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Cape Breton Road
by D. R. MacDonald

Harcourt, Brace
288 pages $32.95 paper
ISBN: 0151005230
Book Review
Growing Weed in the Ass-End of Nowhere
by Joan Givner
The narrative is classic in its simplicity: a young man in the grip of a criminal compulsion gets a police record and, because his parents have neglected to register him as a U.S. citizen, finds himself deported back to Canada. He returns to rural Cape Breton which he left as a child and where his family has deep ancestral roots. There he lives in the old family home, with a rough, hard-drinking, womanizing, bachelor uncle.
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Gay Fiction Speaks Conversations with Gay Novelists
by Richard Canning

Columbia University Press
439 pages $18.95 paper
ISBN: 0231116950
Book Review
Gay Fiction Speaks, but Who's Listening
by Stan Persky
In Richard Canning's intelligent and sensitive conversations with a dozen contemporary gay male novelists, Gay Fiction Speaks, as the title proclaims, speaks. But I wonder if anyone is listening. Or, more precisely, I wonder if as many people are listening as a decade ago. I'll come back to that but, first, if gay fiction speaks, let's find out what it's saying. Canning, who teaches literature at Sheffield University in England, has wisely chosen a broad range of writers to interview.
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The Laughing One: A Journey to Emily Carr
by Susan Crean

HarperFlamingo Canada
496 pages $32 cloth
ISBN: 0002000628
Book Review
A Study of Emily Carr
by Linda Morra
Susan Crean's The Laughing One: A Journey to Emily Carr is another attempt to determine what and how Carr "means" in Canadian postmodern culture, even as it also attempts to contextualize Carr within her own period. As such, Crean's book is a contribution to a growing body of critical work that is proliferating around Carr and that marks a resurgence of interest in her work and person.
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Dark Remedy:The Impact of Thalidomide and its Revival as a Vital Medicine
by Trent Stephens and Rock Brynner

Perseus Publishing, Cambridge
228 pages $39.5 cloth
ISBN: 0738204048
Book Review
Greed and Lies: The Dark Tale of Thalidomide
by Patrick Taylor
In early 1961, while working in an Irish prenatal clinic I frequently prescribed Distaval for women who were afflicted with morning sickness. I shudder to think what damage my well-meant efforts to alleviate morning sickness may have inflicted. Distaval was the Distillers Company's trade name for a recently introduced sedative and anti-nauseant. Its technical name was Thalidomide
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The Girl Without Anyone
by Kelli Deeth

Harper Flamingo Canada
166 pages $26 cloth
ISBN: 0002255006
Book Review
More Teen Angst but with Style
by Lauren Mechling
Vancouver writer Kelli Deeth has a peculiar way with words. Like a sadistic matchmater, she couples them in odd little combinations that are often so energetic that they set the tamest of passages ablaze. In The Girl Without Anyone, Deeth's assured first book, she assiduously arranges words into compact clusters that brim with vim and honesty. On the book's first page, Deeth showcases her ability to express clunky, difficult moments with economy and wit
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The Death of Vishnu
by Manil Suri

W.W. Norton Company
295 pages $34.99 cloth
ISBN: 0393050424
Book Review
Life and Death in a Bombay Tenament
by Nikki Abraham
Manil Suri packs his 295-page novel with memorable characters, convincing dialogue, dramatic, pathos-inspiring, and humorous situations, and open-ended meaningűűno small achievement. On its most superficial level, The Death of Vishnu follows the inhabitants of a small middle-class apartment building in Bombay (Mumbai) over the course of 24 hours. The building, besides housing those who rent the individual flats within its four storeys, is central to a whole host of people.
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The Body Artist
by Don DeLillo

Scribner
124 pages $32.5 cloth
ISBN: 074320395
Book Review
DeLillo's Time is a Hard Body to Fathom
by Julie Chibbaro
Don DeLillo, in an interview with Gerald Howard, 1997: "The novel is a very open form. It will accommodate large themes and whole landscapes of experience. . . The novel expands, contracts, becomes essaylike, floats in pure consciousness¨it gives the writer what he needs to produce a book that duplicates, a book that models the rich, dense, and complex weave of actual experience.
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The Cottage Builder's Letter
by George Murray

McClealland & Stewart
99 pages $16.99 paper
ISBN: 0771066724
Credo
by Carmine Starnino

McGill-Queen's
52 pages $16.95 paper
ISBN: 0773519076
Days into Flatspin
by Ken Babstock

Anansi
81 pages $16.95 paper
ISBN: 0887846580
Book Review
Out with Purdysim! Let the new poets sing!
by Derek Webster
AlPurdy was a mediocre poet, but his influence is seen in so many poets that his importance to our national literature is undeniable: whatever has happened so far, Purdy has been a part of it. I wish I had known Al Purdy, because he was, by every account, an incredible man. Still, part of me is not sad, for meeting him would certainly have made that much harder the task of distinguishing the man from his work.
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A Magpie Life: Growing A Writer
by George Bowering

Key Porter
224 pages $21.95 paper
ISBN: 1552633489
Book Review
Kind and Funny Writing
by Clara Thomson
For an enthusiast of Canadian Literature, it is satisfying to remember the years of the late sixties and seventies, for they were our "golden years". The heady combination of Canada's Centennial in 1967 and the beginning of the Trudeau years released a wave of nationalism that transformed Canadian Studies.
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Completed Field Notes
by Robert Kroetsch

University of Alberta Press
256 pages $19.95 paper
ISBN: 0888643500
This Tremour Love Is
by Daphne Marlatt

Talonbooks
112 pages $15.95 paper
ISBN: 0889224501
Steveston
by Daphne Marlatt

Ronsdale Press
112 pages paper
ISBN: 0921870809
Book Review
Kroetch and Marlatt's Outstanding Field Work
by Rob McLennan
Completed Field Notes, is Robert Kroetsch's continuing poem, started in 1973, with his "Stone Hammer Poems" (Oolichan Books, 1975). Considered, in essays and reviews, to be one of the most important written of so many other times and ways, this is poetry that shows a body how it is done.
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Interviews
An Interview with Trevor Ferguson
by David Solway
Trevor Ferguson is the author of six novels, including The Timekeeper which won the Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction in 1996. Under the pseudonym of John Farrow he has also published two acclaimed crime fiction novels which have become international best sellers. Ferguson has been a Writer-in-Residence at the University of Alberta and an invitTe d'honneur at the Salon des Livres following the translation of several of his works into French. He lives in Hudson, Quebec.
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Interviews
Nancy Huston Unbound
by Nancy Wigston
Nancy Wigston speaks with the Canadian-born Author about her latest, work, her past, and her return to writing in English Born in Calgary in 1953, Nancy Huston moved to New Hampshire when she was fifteen, then to Paris at age twenty, where she has remained. A rarity among anglophones, Huston began her career writing in French. Les Variations Goldberg was published in 1981 and won the Prix Contrepoint. Seven novels and numerous works of nonfiction followed.
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Letters to Editor
Letters to the Editor
Dear Editor, In "The Trouble with Annie: David Solway Unmakes Anne Carson"(Books in Canada, July 2001), David Solway finds himself thinking that "...Carson doesn't exist but is rather the creation of a couple of heavyweight critics and a swarm of quailing lightweights straggling alone in their wake." I hope to be counted among the former, but fear I may be one of the latter.
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Essays
George Fetherling
Gloria Emerson wrote one of the most important and affecting studies of the Vietnam War. The moment I opened Winners and Losers in 1978 I was moved by an emotion that I hadn't found in what were then far more famous and influential works on the same subject, such as David Halberstam's The Best and the Brightest. In the intervening years, Emerson published only two other books, Some American Men and Gaza: A Year in the Intifada, neither of which seemed to me to recapture her early passion.
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Water Wings
by Kristen den Hartog

Knopf Canada
225 pages $29.95 paper
ISBN: 0676972934
What We All Want
by Michelle Berry

Random House Canada
239 pages $32.95 paper
ISBN: 0679310770
As Getting to Normal
by Sandra Campbell

Stoddart
244 pages $29.95 paper
ISBN: 0773732799
Open Arms
by Marina Endicott

Douglas & McIntyre
248 pages $22.95 paper
ISBN: 1550548409
Lenny Bruce is Dead
by Jonathan Goldstein

Coach House Books
155 pages $17.95 paper
ISBN: 1552450694
First Novels
First Novels
by W.P Kinsella
It appears this may be the year of the cathartic first novel. In the early pages of the six novels reviewed here we have two mothers and a grandfather dead, a reminiscence of a father's death, an elderly man suffering a massive stroke, and a child taken deathly ill. On the heels of two highly praised story collections (Object of Your Love, and The Counsel of the Moon) Dorothy Speak gives us The Wife Tree, (Random House Canada, 312 pages, $32.
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Sputnik Diner
by Rick Maddocks

Knopf Canada
283 pages $29.95 Hardcover
ISBN: 0676973787
Brief Reviews
Brief Reviews
by Janet French
Fiction Laced together with vivid images of Southern Ontario's sprawling tobacco fields, Sputnik Diner (Knopf Canada, 283 pages, $29.95 , ISBN: 0676973787) peers into the lives of curious folk in small-town Nanticoke. Composed of five related short stories, Maddocks' debut book tells bizarre anecdotes with unfaltering realism and unforgettable characters. Born in Wales and raised in Southern Ontario, Maddocks' first short story, "Plane People", is essentially biographical.
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urage My Love: A Novel
by Sarah Dearing

Stoddart Publishing Co Ltd.
196 pages $22.95 paper
ISBN: 0773762108
Brief Reviews
Brief Reviews
by Barbara Turner Kinsella
Fiction Sarah Dearing's Courage my Love (Stoddart Publishing Co Ltd., 196 pages, $22.95, paper, ISBN: 0773762108) is a marvelously entertaining search for identity, sensuality, and ultimate redemption. Phillipa Maria Donahue, shell-shocked after the loss of her unborn child, rethinks the ill considered marriage that brought her from Cincinnati to Toronto.
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Brief Reviews
Brief Reviews
by John Sinopoli
Fiction Helen Humphreys likes to give her female protagonists plenty of gender battles to contend with. In her two works to date, characters are placed in settings well before their time; and forced to struggle in male-dominated arenas in which gender-defined difficulties both hold them back and drive them.
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Children's Books
Children's Books
by Jeffrey Canton
He Also Wrote Children's Books With the exception of a thoughtful passage in John Fraser's remebrance of the late great Mordecai Richler, the magnificent legacy that he left to Canadian children's literature was sloughed off. That's no surprise really¨the adult literary world doesn't regard children's literature as its equal.
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Children's Books
Four Czech Chicks
by Gillian O'Reilly
Appropriate to a nation of immigrants, Canadian children's books in the last two decades have been enriched by the talents of four dynamic illustrators from the Czech Republic (formerly part of Czechoslovakia). Perhaps their birthplace is not so surprising, however, given that the first children's picture book (an illustrated encyclopedia) was written by a Czech educator and bishop in 1658.
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Flying Geese
by Barbara Haworth-Attard

HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.
192 pages $14.95 paper
ISBN: 0006485731
Children's Books
Children's Books
by Hardley Dyer
Margaret Brown's life is falling to pieces. After her father is injured in an accident, her family is forced to abandon their Saskatchewan farm and move to London, Ontario. To make matters worse, her older brother is off to fight in World War I and there's a new baby on the way. Moving from "Country life" to "City life" is a difficult adjustment for the entire family, especially as Mr. Brown struggles to find work. Margaret, awkward and outspoken, finds comfort in her memories.
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Raven's End
by Ben Gadd

McClelland and Stewart
347 pages $34.99 cloth
ISBN: 077103251X
Children's Books
Children's Books
by Lena Coakley
Colin has lost his memory. He can't even remember the predators he is supposed to stay away from, not coyotes, not lynx, not even the most dangerous of all¨humans. Luckily, he meets fellow ravens Zack and Molly and eventually joins the Raven's End flock. But dreams and prophetic visions lead Colin away from his new family on a quest for his lost identity. In Raven's End, Ben Gadd brings his experience as a naturalist and mountain climber to a tale of adventure in the Canadian Rockies.
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