Summer's Idyll

by Don Gutteridge,
ISBN: 0887509363

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Brief Reviews - Fiction
by Ayse Tuzlak

THE DESCRIPTION on the back cover of Don Cutteridge's Summer's Idyll (Oberon, 150 pages, $2 5.95 cloth, $12.95 paper) is slightly misleading: the reader is promised "the story of a summer in the life of a young boy, now a man in his middle years." We never meet the man at all; we are guided through the summer of 1944 by the unmistakable voice of a 10-year-old. But the voice is clear and true, and the honesty of its narration is what makes this coming-of-age story enjoyable.

Cutteridge is best known as a dramatic poet, and his prose bears witness to a keen poetic consciousness. Perhaps this is why lie has been able to deal so admirably with the difficulties involved in mediating experience through the eyes of a child. The writing is delightfully non-linear, swinging from thought to thought, leaving it Lit, to the reader to form a coherent picture of life in this unnamed Ontario town. Details are given to us only as Billy notices them, and what lie finds important enough to tell its is often surprising: the horrors of the Second World War, for example, take second place to the anxiety of searching a ravine for the perfect snake for his magic show.

Summer's ldyll can he frustrating to read -- we are eager to satisfy our curiosity about many things that simply don't interest this boy. But it could not have been otherwise: this is the way he will remember this summer, and that is all that matters.


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