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First Novels
by W.P. Kinsella

Maclean by Allan Donaldson ( Nimbus Publishing, $14.95, 162 pages, ISBN:1551095505) has to be the most unrelentingly depressing book I've read in five years of monitoring first novels. Set in 1943, this short novel covers a day in the life of Maclean, a shellshocked, alcoholic veteran of the First World War, as he wanders around a small town in the maritimes, trying to scrounge some money for booze, and for a birthday present for his aged mother. His efforts are constantly interrupted by flashes of the war that ruined his life, of people from his past including a nasty father and a sweetheart who moved on to greener pastures. Sorrowful as his past may be, Maclean is just a bum and not in the least interesting.

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