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Book Reviews in August 2002 Issue

Note from Editor
Editor's Note
by Olga Stein
Writing about Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood, Jerry White tells us that scientific curiosity, when combined with the rational pursuit of "genuinely new knowledge...[has] equal amounts in common with the best impulses driving both the humanities and the sciences.
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The Wrong Madonna
by Britt Holstrom

Cormorant Books
399 pages $22.95 paper
ISBN: 1896951368
Book Review
Thirty Years of Wondering
by Irene D'Souza
Britt Holmstrom's career as an English-language writer has come together slowly. This transplanted Swede turned Canadian, with roots in both England and Spain, has an educational background that includes degrees in visual arts and fashion design. Throw in a M.Sc in microbiology and one understands and appreciates the stimulating prose that challenges both the left and right brain cells.
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You Cannot Be Serious: The Autobiography
by John McEnroe with James Kaplan

Putnam Pub Group
382 pages $25.95 cloth
ISBN: 0399148582
Book Review
An Unsuccessful Match
by Christopher Ondaatje
"I tried hard. In my darker moments however, I sometimes wonder why I went to the effort, because it ended up so badly. Sometimes¨I can't help it¨I feel as if I wasted my time. Ultimately, I have no one to blame but myself. I'm the one that chose that life, that wife." John McEnroe burst into public prominence on June 28th, 1977 when he was eighteen years old and achieved the seemingly impossible.
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Three Roads to Quantum Gravity
by Lee Smolin

Basic Books
232 pages $36.5 cloth
ISBN: 0465078354
Book Review
Quantum Theory of Gravity Within Reach
by David Colterjohn
Most of us were probably in the upper grades of elementary school when we first saw that picture of a stable, sun-like nucleus with electrons revolving around it like planets. When we think of the word 'atom' that's probably still the image that springs to mind. But according to Lee Smolin, Professor of Physics at Pennsylvania State University, the universe isn't made up of things at all.
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The Road Since "Structure": Philosophical Essays,1970-1993 With an autobiographical interview. Edited by James Conant and John Haugeland University of Chicago Press
Thomas S. Kuhn
335 pages $27.95 paper
ISBN: 0226457990
Book Review
Thomas Kuhn on Scientific Revolutions
by Robert DiSalle
Before Thomas Kuhn published The Structure of Scientific Revolutions in 1962, revolutions were supposed to epitomize what is objective about scientific inquiry: the rational revision of beliefs, even the most fundamental beliefs, in the face of better evidence.
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The Half-Way Tree: Selected Poems
by John B. Lee

Black Moss Press
204 pages $19.95 paper
ISBN: 088753354X
Beauties on Mad River: Selected and New Poems
by Jan Conn

Signal Editions
174 pages $14 paper
ISBN: 1550651404
The Year One: New and Selected Poems
by Diane Keating

Exile Editions
176 pages $22.95 paper
ISBN: 1550966243
Book Review
Good Reasons to Publish Selected Poems
by Harold Heft
There is a joke about the laziest poet alive. He publishes his first volume of poetry at the age of 35. When asked what he plans to do next, he replies: "I'm going to re-publish this exact volume again as my Selected Poems at the age of 45, then again as my Collected Poems at 55 and, finally, as my Complete Poems at 65.
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Conflicting Desire
by A. F. Moritz

Ekstasis Editions
75 pages $14.95 paper
ISBN: 1896860850
Book Review
A Fervent Romantic
by Richard Greene
Despite being short-listed for the Governor General's Award in 2000, A. F. Moritz is that rarity among Canadian poets, one more venerated abroad than at home. He has received, among many honours, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Award in Literature of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. His work is a constant presence in major American anthologies. W.S. Merwin calls him "a poet of originality, daring, and projection," with "a remarkable voice and range of imagination.
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The Daughter of Christopher Columbus Translated by Will Browning
by RTjean Ducharme

Guernica Editions
208 pages $20 paper
ISBN: 1550711067
Book Review
Hatching into the Twentieth-Century
by Lissa Cowan, RenT Brisebois
In the Quebec film LTolo, the protagonist keeps a copy of RTjean Ducharme's L'AvalTe des avalTs (The Swallower Swallowed) close-at-hand like a priest keeps a bible. Ducharme, perhaps the most important literary figure of the Quiet Revolution generation, is little known by most English-speaking Canadians and little translated due to the complexity of his writing. A kind of French-Canadian J.D.
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Everything is Illuminated
by Jonathan Safran Foer

Houghton Mifflin
276 pages $34.95 cloth
ISBN: 0618173870
Book Review
Malapropisms Notwithstanding
by Nathan Whitlock
Last year, The Guardian's Novel of the Year Award was won by Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid On Earth, a graphic novel (a very long comic book for adults in which the cartoon characters are often either angry or sad). Critics, perhaps fearful of looking un-hip, or simply caught up in the novelty of the thing, fell over themselves to offer praise.
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The Ingenuity Gap
by Thomas Homer-Dixon

Vintage Canada
480 pages $22.95 paper
ISBN: 0676972969
Book Review
Cardboard Man Meets Invisible Consort
by Frank Smith
Thomas Homer-Dixon begins The Ingenuity Gap with a harrowing analogy. We are aboard United Airlines flight 232 on 19 July 1989 out of Denver bound for Chicago when there is a catastrophic collapse of all control systems. The captain draws on all his skill and experience to stabilize the plane, but it doesn't respond. Problems cascade faster than he can think, and there is more complexity, overflow of information and uncertainty than his brain can handle. Experts on the ground give us up.
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Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Power
by Victor Davis Hanson

New York: Doubleday
492 pages $44.95 cloth
ISBN: 0385500521
Book Review
Old Formula for Staving off the bin Ladens
by Robert Sibley
In the film "Lawrence of Arabia," there's a scene in which the British military adviser, Col. Brighton, tells Prince Faisal how his nomadic Bedouins can be turned into soldiers. "Great Britain," says Col. Brighton, "is a small country, poor compared to some, but yet it is great. And why?" "Because it has guns," says Prince Faisal. "Because it has discipline," says Col. Brighton, thumping his fist on the sand. This scene came vividly to mind when I heard U.S.
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Be My Knife
by David Grossman

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
307 pages $39.95 cloth
ISBN: 0374299773
Book Review
Can I tell you everything?
by B. Glen Rotchin
David Grossman has written two acclaimed works of non-fiction and four novels. In all of them he has been interested in exploring the individual's relationship to "the other" and the way that relationship shapes a notion of "the self." His effort to put a sympathetic face on Palestinian suffering during the first intifada in The Yellow Wind was groundbreaking reportage.
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Back Flip
by Anne Denoon

Porcupine's Quill Press
323 pages $24.95 paper
ISBN: 0679311793
Book Review
The Not So Smart Artistic Set
by Nancy Wigston
Toronto native Anne Denoon's satirical first novel leads us fearlessly into the treacherous thickets of the Toronto art world as they existed in 1967. The Sixties, though much written about, are not an easy period to get right in fiction or film. They often come across as merely druggy and self-indulgent, or worst of all, too shallow to take seriously. Back Flip has its share of all that, but what Denoon brings to the mix is what was missing at the time: wisdom.
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Testament
by Nino Ricci

Doubleday
457 pages $35.95 cloth
ISBN: 0385658540
Book Review
New Scriptures From Ricci
by Donald Akenson
Matthew. Mark, Luke, and Nino Successful novelists in our society receive a lot of attention but not much respect. They're not the sort of folk one calls when something really important is happening: like your infant has an earache or the sump pump in the basement just burned out and it's raining oceans outside. For real problems we call people we respect.
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13
by Mary-Lou Zeitoun

Porcupine's Quill
142 pages $14.95
ISBN: 0889842329
Book Review
Getting Around the Wolves
by Donna Nurse
Sooner or later someone will look into why so many contemporary Canadian women are writing novels about neglectful mothers. To varying degrees, books by Kelli Deeth, Sue Goyette, Priscila Uppal and Kristen den Hartog feature young female characters staggering into womanhood minus strong maternal role models. Now Marnie Harmon, the sassy heroine of Mary-Lou Zeitoun's novel, 13, joins the ranks of the unguided. Most of the story unfolds in 1980, the year Marnie enters her teens.
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All Families are Psychotic
by Douglas Coupland

Random House
279 pages $34.95 cloth
ISBN: 0679311408
Book Review
Familial Brand of Unhappiness
by John Oughton
"All happy families are like one another; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way" wrote Tolstoy in Anna Karenina. In his latest novel, Douglas Coupland explores the characters and fortunes of a spectacularly unhappy clan: the Drummonds. Divorced parents Ted and Janet are of the pre-Boomer generation, and their three children span the micro-generations from late-Boomer to Coupland's own Gen-X.
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The Rising
by Bairbre T=ibfn

McArthur & Company
284 pages $24.95 paper
ISBN: 1552782794
Book Review
How the Past Disappoints
by Jana Prikryl
Not unlike other small nations that have seen their share of adversity, the Irish are both well versed in their history and proud of having outlived it. The various conquests of Ireland are written so deeply into the fabric of its culture that almost every work of literature that emerges from there, be it historical or not, bears a trace of them. Perhaps for that reason, the phrase "Irish historical novel" hints at overkill
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The Haunting of L.
by Howard Norman

Knopf
326 pages $34.95 cloth
ISBN: 0676974996
Book Review
An Unconvincing Haunting
by Kjeld Haraldsen
Writing about the past requires retroactive energy¨a gritty force. The past¨lacquered, stuffed into museums¨quickly becomes a stiff code, a rigid set of tics. Historical novels demand density, should bristle with trivial details, situate us. (To be successful, historical fiction¨any fiction for that matter¨must have the fierceness, the irrefutability, the rightness of the real.
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Excessive Joy Injures The Heart Emblem Editions
by Elisabeth Harvor

McClelland & Stewart
340 pages $18.99 paper
ISBN: 0771039638
Let Me Be The One Emblem Editions
by Elisabeth Harvor

McClelland & Stewart
204 pages $17.99 paper
ISBN: 0771039654
Book Review
Sexually Charged but
by Kathryn Kuitenbrower
Elisabeth Harvor may be Canada's least known literary celebrity. Published in Saturday Night and The New Yorker, her work has received critical acclaim on both sides of the border. Excessive Joy Injures The Heart is a national bestseller; Let Me Be The One was a finalist for the 1996 Governor General Award. Harvor's work has garnered numerous awards and critical accolades.
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Summer in Baden-Baden Translated from the Russian by Roger and Angela Keys
by Leonid Tsypkin

146 pages $34.99 cloth
ISBN: 0811214842
Book Review
Loving and Hating Dostoyevsky
by Olga Stein
Leonid Tsypkin, the narrator, is on a train headed for Leningrad, nowadays St. Petersburg. In order to fact check his book on Fyodor Dostoyevsky¨the book is Summer in Baden-Baden¨he aims to visit the various places where Dostoyevsky resided, from the time of his return from a Siberian prison, to his last years with his second, much younger wife, Anna Grigoryevna
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A History Of Britain, Vol.2: The British Wars
by Simon Schama

McClelland and Stewart
544 pages $60 cloth
ISBN: 0771079206
Book Review
A Full History of England¨Typical Schama
by Gordon Phinn
The story so far: a birth in England, unaccompanied, as far as we know, by any unusual stellar illuminations, in the year 1945 to Jewish immigrants. A fairly typical post-war childhood, followed by an illustrious university career: Cambridge, Oxford, Harvard, Columbia
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The Universe in a Nutshell
by Stephen Hawking

Bantam
216 pages $53 cloth
ISBN: 055380202X
Book Review
Perusing the Cosmos with Stephen Hawking
by Matt Sturrock
The problem with Stephen Hawking writing for the layperson is that he, himself, isn't one. He's in continual danger of overestimating his readership: one that is almost exclusively drawn from a mathematical caste far below his and that of his Cambridge contemporaries.
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Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood
by Oliver Sacks

Knopf
337 pages $34.95 cloth
ISBN: 0676972616
Book Review
A Chemist Remembers his Childhood
by Jerry White
Oliver Sacks has certainly reached the point in his career where it would make sense to write a memoir. Hailed worldwide as a path-breaking neurologist, he's had a parallel career as a best-selling author; he's even been played by Robin Williams (who starred in the 1990 adaptation of his 1982 book Awakenings). But his newest book, Uncle Tungsten: Memoirs of a Chemical Boyhood, is a very eccentric autobiography.
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The Double Bond: Primo Levi, a Biography
by Carole Angier

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
898 pages $66 cloth
ISBN: 0374113157
Book Review
The Undisguised Primo Levi
by Jean Greenberg
When Primo Levi the chemist and well-loved writer, died in 1987 at age 67 after falling headfirst into a third-floor stairwell in the same house and in the same city (Turin) where he had lived for virtually his whole life, there were no witnesses. Some believe that he fell, weak after an operation and perhaps dizzy. Carole Angier makes a convincing case for suicide but claims his Auschwitz experience was not the cause. Levi had said: "It was better at Auschwitz.
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My Wars Are Laid Away in Books: The Life of Emily Dickinson
by Alfred Habegger

Random House
896 pages $53 cloth
ISBN: 0679449868
A Vice for Voices: Reading Emily Dickinson's Correspondence
by Marietta Messmer

University of Massachusetts Press
280 pages $54.95 cloth
ISBN: 1558493069
Book Review
Emily Dickinson Alight Again
by Cindy MacKenzie
In the last few years, new life has been blown into Dickinson scholarship with the appearance of several primary reference texts and critical works. Beginning with the publication of a new variorum edition of the poetry edited by R.W.
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Cometology
by Stephen Brockwell

ECW Press
93 pages $15.95 paper
ISBN: 1550224514
Histories
by Andrew Steinmetz

Signal Editions, VThicule Press
88 pages paper
ISBN: 1550651412
Into The Early Hours
by Aislinn Hunter

Polestar, an Imprint of Raincoast Books
105 pages $12.95 paper
ISBN: 1551924986
Book Review
Tale-Telling, Rubric, and Pattern
by Steven Laird
legend: a story coming down from the past; a body of such stories Into The Early Hours is Vancouver writer Aislinn Hunter's first collection of poetry. In a sure voice, the poems weave ancestry with autobiography in long, leisurely lines and a clear, storyteller's syntax.
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Girls and Handsome Dogs
by Norm Sibum

The Porcupine's Quill
114 pages $14.95 paper
ISBN: 0889842302
Book Review
Ovid de nos jours
by Eric Miller
What is it we want from writing? Some people want affirmation of a particular philosophy for which they feel attachment. Others relish technical excellence. When I pose the question to myself, however, the conclusion I reach might seem heretical in the current critical climate. Sincerity must accompany talent. Oscar Wilde is hardly the last savant to have disparaged sincerity as a literary criterion
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Selected Poems Introduction by Bruce Whiteman
by Ralph Gustafson

VThicule Press
90 pages $14 paper
ISBN: 1550651498
Book Review
Selected by Ralph Gustafson
by Deborah Bowen
When he died in 1995, Ralph Gustafson had lived through almost the whole of the twentieth century. He had published more than two dozen books of poetry, a collection of essays, and a book of short stories. He had compiled and edited two early and influential collections of Canadian writing, the Anthology of Canadian Poetry in 1942 and The Penguin Book of Canadian Verse in 1958. He had won the Governor General's Award for Poetry in 1974 and the QSPELL A.M.Klein Poetry Prize in 1993.
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The Work of Mourning Edited by Pascal-Anne Brault and Michael Naas
by Jacques Derrida

University of Chicago
262 pages $37.97 cloth
ISBN: 0226143163
Book Review
Old Friends Remembered
by Stan Persky
The internationally renowned French thinker Jacques Derrida¨the New York Times once exaggeratedly called him "perhaps the world's most famous philosopher"¨is, as his readers know, interested not only in the traditional philosophical topics of life, death, and all the rest, but he's also and especially interested in the problems of speaking and writing about those subjects. This quickly becomes apparent in his new book about the activity and process of mourning.
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Northern Passage: American Vietnam War Resisters in Canada
by John Hagan

Harvard University Press
269 pages $27.95 cloth
ISBN: 067400471X
Book Review
Some Didn't Want to Fight
by Fred A. Reed
The war waged by the United States against Vietnam from 1963 until 1974 has all but faded from memory, overtaken by genocides and other cataclysms. But the widespread civil disobedience it touched off still haunts the American civil conscience and obsesses the War Party which has seized control of the regime.
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The Broken Record Technique
by Lee Henderson

Penguin
268 pages $22 paper
ISBN: 0141005688
Book Review
Quirky Characters in Intriguing Situations
by Geoff Hancock
The Broken Record Technique, an epigraph from The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook explains, is a psychological ploy which works by way of patient, repeated requests for what you want from someone who doesn't want to give it to you. Unfortunately, the psychologist adds, the technique rarely works within close relationships.
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Pittsburgh Stories Selected Stories: 2 Introduction by Robert Boyers
by Clark Blaise

The Porcupine's Quill
142 pages $18.95 paper
ISBN: 0889842272
Book Review
Childhood in Pittsburgh
by Leanne D'Antoni
Written over four decades, Pittsburgh Stories, is the second in a projected four-volume set of Clark Blaise's selected short stories. Set largely during the forties and fifties, these nine stories, with one exception, are reminiscences about a distant Pittsburgh adolescence. The previous and inaugural collection in the series, Southern Stories, was also unified by one locale. Blaise's prowess as a writer is evident from the outset.
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The Author of Himself: The Life of Marcel Reich-Ranicki
by Translated from German by Ewald Osers With a foreword by Jack Zipes

Princeton University Press
417 pages $57.75 cloth
ISBN: 0691090408
Book Review
A Literary Executioner
by Eric Ormsby
It may be hard for Canadians to appreciate the huge impact of this book in Germany where the author holds sway as the most influential literary critic now active¨in his own words, "a literary executioner." We prefer to smother budding critics in their cribs, particularly if they promise to be outspoken.
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Interviews
New York's Dirty Darling Interview with Jonathan Ames
by Sarah Venart
Jonathan Ames is the author of two novels, I Pass Like Night and The Extra Man, the memoir, What's Not to Love?: The Adventures of a Mildly Perverted Young Writer, and a new collection of fiction and non-fiction, My Less Than Secret Life: A Diary, Fiction, Essays. Ames performs as a storyteller and his one-man show "Oedipussy" has appeared off-off-Broadway. He is the winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship for writing and is a former columnist for the New York Press.
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Interviews
Between Words and Wordlessness. Interview with Elisabeth Harvor
by Krista Bridge
Elisabeth Harvor's fiction and poetry have appeared in The New Yorker, The Malahat Review, The Hudson Review, and many other periodicals, and have been anthologized in Canada, the US, and Europe. Fortress of Chairs won the Lampert Award in 1992. She has also won a number of other awards, among them the Alden Nowlan Award and a National Magazine Award. Excessive Joy Injures the Heart, chosen as one of the ten best books of the year by The Toronto Star in 2000, is her first novel.
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Letters to Editor
Letters to the Editor
Dear Editor, Regarding Carmine Starnino's review of Eunoia, thank you for having both the vision and courage to set something in print that, finally, puts this book in its place. Eunoia's empty-hearted alphabetic contortions have fooled far too many critics (and, sadly, contest judges).
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Essays
Don Bell's Found Books
by Don Bell
What is it that draws a reader¨or a scout¨to a secondhand book? Usually the look of the book, the illlustrations, the cover design, its condition. And sometimes just the title. Wilfrid de Freitas, one of the most knowledgeable and likeable of Montreal's antiquarian dealers, often uses the expression "being turned on" by a book. A selective buyer, Wilfrid can spend hundreds of dollars or more for a book that "turns him on" and which he guesses will equally "turn on" a prospective customer.
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Prose/Poetry
The Cabbagetown Kid: Ted Plantos and the Return of Romanticism
by James Deahl
When Ted Plantos died late in the winter of 2001 he left behind eleven poetry collections, two children's books, and a volume of short stories. What he did not leave behind was an established literary reputation; the academy had never recognized Ted and would probably not have approved of his writing. The question, then, is who was Ted Plantos? Ted started life in the old Cabbagetown neighbourhood in what was then Toronto's working-class east end.
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The Stubborn Season
by Lauren B. Davis

HarperFlamingoCanada
340 pages $32.95 paper
ISBN: 0002005028
Live by Request
by Rob Payne

HarperFlamingoCanada
246 pages $24.95 paper
ISBN: 0006391745
Astral Projection
by Edward O'Connor

Random House Canada
242 pages $32.95 paper
ISBN: 0679311157
The Sudden Weight of Snow
by Laisha Rosnau

M & S
341 pages $34.99 paper
ISBN: 0771075804
Anxious Gravity
by Jeff Wells

Dundurn
342 pages $19.99 paper
ISBN: 0889242992
First Novels
First Novels
by W.P Kinsella
If there was a Pretentious Title Contest, Anxious Gravity, by Jeff Wells (Dundurn, 342 pages, $19.99, ISBN:0889242992), would be on the short list. It is, like many first novels, highly uneven, with a gullible and not very likable protagonist. A Toronto boy, 16-year-old Gideon, after something he mistakes for a religious miracle, enrolls in an unaccredited school, the Overcomer Bible Institute of Three Trees, Alberta.
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No Missing Parts & Other Stories about Real Princesses
by Anne Laurel Carter

Red Deer Press
136 pages $12.95 paper
ISBN: 0889952521
Children's Books
Children's Books
by Gillian Chan
Anne Laurel Carter is one of a new generation of fine short story writers for young adults in Canada. A past winner of the Vicky Metcalf award and the Thistledown Press' Young Adult short story competitions, her first short story collection, No Missing Parts, from Red Deer Press will only confirm her promise as a writer to watch.
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Children's Books
Children's Books
by Jeffrey Canton
There's no better way to spend a hot lazy summer afternoon than immersed in the pages of a really good book and we at Books in Canada are certain that you'll find some inviting fare for young readers in the books reviewed in this issue.
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In the Key of Do Translated by Susan Ouriou
by Carole FrTchette

Red Deer Press
96 pages $9.95 paper
ISBN: 088995254X
Children's Books
Children's Books
by Gillian Chan
In the Key of Do is a new novel from award winning writer Carole FrTchette, translated by Susan Ouriou. A small book in many ways¨short in length, small in the scope of its events¨it still manages to explore the intense, almost obsessive nature of teenage friendship very impressively. VTro and Do (short for DolorFs) are two fourteen- year-olds who could not be more different. VTro is quiet, restrained emotionally, and would do anything to avoid drawing attention to herself
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The Man Who Ran Faster Than Everyone: The Story of Tom Longboat
by Jack Batten

Tundra Books
104 pages $16.99 paper
ISBN: 0887765067
Children's Books
Children's Books
by Deborah Wandell
This is a wonderful book. Jack Batten has written a riveting sports story about a man whose astounding running abilities were at their peak in an era when racing was a wildly popular sport, regularly drawing crowds of 10,000 or more. But Batten has done much more. He offers us an intriguing slice of social and economic life in the early decades of the 20th century, raising some provocative questions in the process.
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Second Story Press
75 pages $10.95 paper
ISBN: 1896764444
Children's Books
Children's Books
by Trudee Romanek
Quick! Choose the ten most amazing female athletes of all time, from any sport and any country. Not an easy task and, to be accurate, not quite the one taken on by author Jill Bryant. Her book Amazing Women Athletes claim to feature neither the top ten nor the most amazing women in sport history. The women profiled represent an admirably broad spectrum of sport¨from the usual track and field, figure skating and tennis, to the less mainstream, curling, mountain-climbing, and horse racing.
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Flood
by James Heneghan

Groundwood Books
188 pages $12.95 paper
ISBN: 0888994664
Adrift
by Julie Burtinshaw

Raincoast Books
168 pages $12.95 paper
ISBN: 1551924692
Children's Books
Children's Books
by Jeffrey Canton
Unhappy families are the theme of these two imaginative young adult novels from B.C. writers Julie Burtinshaw and James Heneghan¨the kind of unhappy families that force young people to fend for themselves emotionally and physically; that disenfranchise rather than empower these young people and force them to take on adult responsibilities because the grownups in their lives fail to meet their obligations.
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