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Letters to the Editor
by Barbara Carey

Positive Feedback

APPLAUD JOAN CLARK'S opinion piece 'Cut the Crap about 'Kiddy Litter' " (May). Being a recently published children's author, with short stories in Cricket magazine, a first junior-fiction novel that came out in May, and a second young-adult novel slated for release next month, I thought I was the only one running into condescending comments. Among my favourites were: an acquaintance (a lawyer): "What a nice hobby, kind of like my golf"; a friend (another lawyer): "I've often thought of writing in my spare time, too"; an instructor at a university creativewriting course: "Children's books!" he scoffed. (I had never actually seen anyone scoff until I met him.) "They're so easy to write. A hundred and thirty pages. Anyone could do it. Try something serious."

I told very few people that I like to write, and to those I did tell, I found myself quickly mumbling "children's" and emphasizing "writer." Until I started to read my work at schools. The feedback I received from children was so positive. They liked what I wrote. It meant something to them. I am now proud to be a "children's writer."

Thank you, Joan, for your wonderful, supportive article.

Barbara Haworth-Attard

London, Ont.

An Excess of Zeal

WHILE I GENUINELY appreciate Eva Tihanyi's generally hostile comments in her review of my book No Angel Came ("Sense and Sensibilities," May) I feel obliged to protest against some excesses of zeal. What seems to bother her more than anything is what she perceives as the moral turpitude of the protagonist. She goes further and alludes to something of whose existence I was not aware, the "male artist stereotype." Apparently we are all lyin', cheatin', puffing up our egos, and never feeling remorse for our incessant violations her personal ethical code of behaviour. Surely pontification on the moral rectitude of fictional characters is not the role of the book reviewer. This is after all nearly the end of the 20th century. And surely demonizing an entire class of people, of artists, even if they are only males, is unworthy of a person professing to be a critic.

John B. Boyle Allenford, Ont.

Budding Controversy

HAVING JUST READ BRIAN Fawcett's review of my book In a Victoria Garden ("Budding Delights," Summer) I feel compelled to respond.

Had Mr. Fawcett done his homework he would know that as a founding member and acting director of the Friends of Ecological Reserves in B.C., "ecological concerns" have been an active part of my life for 20 years. Had Mr. Fawcett read the book he would have known that naturalized gardens were described in the chapters on Elsie and Ernie Lythgoe, June Mayall, Doris Page, and Evelyn and Nick Weesjes.

But then, had Mr. Fawcett read my book he would have known that my name is spelled Milnes.

Lynne Milnes


I AM WRITING TO EXPRESS MY outrage at the quality of reviewing demonstrated in Brian Fawcett's review "Budding Delights," in particular his treatment of In a Victoria Garden by Lynne Milnes.

To criticize a book in this genre for showing Victoria as "a city without streets, poor people, or those big pipes that pump all the city's sewage into the ocean" is imbecilic. Give me a break! This is a book devoted to beautiful gardens! If Mr. Fawcett wants to do a book on the sewage treatment problems facing Victoria (about which I suspect he knows very little ... but I doubt that would stop him), let him send us a proposal.

Then to slag the publisher for printing offshore -- "Orca's backhanded way of letting us know that while a few Victoria residents can afford gardens as sumptuous as the ones depicted here, book publishers have to export jobs offshore because the rest of us can't afford books like this if they're printed in our own country" -- is both irrelevant and shows an appalling ignorance of the book industry in this country.

The overall tone of the review seems to be more concerned with Mr. Fawcett demonstrating just how much he knows about gardening than with a fair evaluation of the titles under consideration. This kind of shit should not get past the editor's desk. I'm not too sure what's going on at Books in Canada. It seems the magazine is becoming less and less relevant to the industry. Several booksellers have recently told me that they no longer bother to subscribe. At this point I'm prepared to give up on you. Please cancel our subscription to the magazine, effective immediately. You will be getting no more advertising from us, nor in future will we bother you with review copies of our new titles.

R. J. C. (Bob) Tyrrell,

Publisher Orca Books


p.s. Brian Fawcett, please fuck your hat preferably the one you garden in!

Editor's note. Here is the complete text of Brian Fawcett's review:

Not quite so modest and slightly less charming is In a Victoria Garden (Orca, 121 pages, $19.95 paper), by the West Coast landscape photographer and entrepreneur Lynne Milne. Don't get me wrong about this book or its author. Milne is a fine garden interpreter, and the book is a beauty that will look just fine on the right sort of coffee-table during cocktail parties.

Still, after reading Lorraine Johnson on the need to start naturalizing gardens, I feel compelled to point out that the sole focus of In a Victoria Garden is aesthetics divorced from ecological concerns, and that it is photographed in such a way that it makes Victoria into a city without streets, poor people, or those great big pipes that pump all the city's sewage into the ocean. The book is also printed and bound in Hong Kong, which is Orca's backhanded way of letting us know that white a few Victoria residents can afford gardens as sumptuous as the ones depicted here, book publishers have to export jobs offshore because the rest of us can't afford books like this if they're printed in our own country. Still, it's a beautiful book, and if you can forget about the sociology of glamour gardens for a while, it will bring you many hours of pleasure.

More Controversy

RE "BUDDING DELIGHTS." Heh, Brian Fawcett! Beer traps for killing slugs work, even on Saltspring Island where the slugs are the size of stretch limos. Their only problem is the gardener's partner: she gets ticked off when the fridge is empty.

J. A. Hamilton



A crucial phrase in George Elliott Clarke's review "Imperialism and Its Discontents" (May) was inadvertently dropped. The sentence concerned should have read as follows: "Indeed, two recent collections of post-colonialist prose feature the struggle of two Indo-Caribbean writers and thinkers to resist Canadian Eurocentricity and to preserve their cultural originality by combating the marginalized assumptions of the 'mother country,' that is, this shadowy Canada that metonymizes the phantasmal remains of the British Empire."

Books in Canada regrets the error.


Not So Sharpe

Due to a production mix-up, there were many errors in Fred Sharpe's CanLit Acrostic #73 (Summer). We apologize for the vexation this may have caused puzzle addicts, and will do our best to provide a trouble-free acrostic in the future.

Letters may be edited for length or to delete potentially libellous statements. Except in extraordinary circumstances, letters of more than 500 words will not be accepted for publication.


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