Summer of My Amazing Luck

by Miriam Toews,
192 pages,
ISBN: 0888012055

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First Novels - Ontarian Safari
by Eva Tihanyi

Summer of My Amazing Luck, by Miriam Toews (Turnstone, 192 pages, $16.95 paper), is in one sense the flip side of Woman's Work. The eighteen-year-old Lucy Van Alstyne, although born into a solidly upper-middle-class family, ends up living in a welfare housing project. She has no idea who her baby's father is and doesn't seem to care but, like many of the women in the project, dreams of one day meeting a man who will take care of her and her son. Her best friend, Lish, is down on men yet pines for the father of her twins, a fire-eating busker whom she knew for a full week before he left town, with her wallet.

The novel is primarily a chronicle of housing project life. There are numerous characters who make cameo appearances, and inevitably their main concern (like Lucy's and Lish's) is men. Here is a representative sample: "When you're a mother on the dole you don't get a lot of opportunities to meet men. And it's damn lonely at times. Maybe Joe was better than nothing at all."

Despite its lacklustre, almost non-existent plot, the novel does seem concerned with presenting the lives of women who do not often make it to the pages of Canadian fiction. It's just too bad it presents these lives as borderline banal.


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