Everything in Winnipeg Begins in a Car

by Martin Waxman,
80 pages,
ISBN: 0887532470

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Brief Reviews - Fiction
by Pat Barclay

THIS IS A cunning idea for a book, an ingenious literary conceit. Together, the six stories in Martin Waxman's Everything in Winnipeg Begins in a Car (Black Moss, 80 pages, $15.95 paper) combine to create the biography of a young man whom their author dubs "a nerdy Robert de Niro," one Paul Samuels of Winnipeg. Slightly sad and a little goofy all at once, the stories manage to merge nostalgia with low comedy and genuine sentiment with terrible automotive puns ("Paul was not a good fender"; "Drive is what he lacks.")

Samuels is conceived in a car; becomes an in utero member of a three-vehicle procession driving from Winnipeg to Minneapolis for a family wedding; makes the same trip over again at 14 and falls in love; has miserable dating experiences in cars until he thinks, "This car knows so much about me, it's embarrassing to be seen in it in public," and dies in a car accident at 35 after he's made the break with home by moving to Toronto.

Somehow, Waxman actually makes us feel sorry for his hapless hero; his mistakes with women are so richly ludicrous, his homesickness for his hopelessly possessive parents so genuine. What all this goes to prove, suggests Waxman with clever tongue firmly planted in cheek, is that you can take the boy out of Winnipeg but you can never, ever, take Winnipeg out of the boy. Especially a boy who's "turned in the wrong direction and ... can't figure out how to get back."


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