Book Reviews in February 2000 Issue

Note from Editor
Note From The Editor
by Diana Kuprel
[The spirit of exclusiveness] is the most pernicious in an association of people: whenever exclusiveness arises, justice disappears, and where there is no justice, there cannot be morality; without morality, there are no morals. The spirit of exclusiveness is the main obstacle at every step of civilization.... It is still the greatest barrier to unity, to the unification of nations.

Whylah Falls: The Play
by George Elliott Clarke

Playwrights Canada
112 pages $14.95
ISBN: 0887545653
The Baby Blues
by Drew Hayden T

95 pages $13.95
ISBN: 0889224064
The Tale Of Teeka
by Michel Marc Bou

58 pages $12.95
ISBN: 0889224102
by David

Coach House
112 pages $17.95
ISBN: 1552450589
Beatrice Chancy
by George Elliott C

160 pages $16.95
ISBN: 1896095941
Book Review
Settling The Score
by Cynthia Sugars
The essence of a concert recital is its ephemerality. It is fated to remain etched in the listener’s inner ear as an intangible memory, never to be precisely recalled. After all, no performance will ever be exactly the same as another. This was a phenomenon that obsessed Glenn Gould. How to make manifest the perfect moment—and how to preserve it for posterity
Triumph of the Lack of Will International Diplomacy & the Yugoslav War-
by James Gow,

Columbia University Press
pages TC
ISBN: 0231109164
The Political Lives of Dead Bodies Reburial, & Post-Socialist Change
by Katherine Verdery,

Columbia University Press
pages TC
ISBN: 0231112300
Politics of Serbia in the 1990s
by Robert Thomas,

Columbia University Press
288 pages TC
ISBN: 0231113803
Kosovo: A Short History
by Noel Malcolm

492 pages $22.95
ISBN: 0333666135
Kosovo: How Myths And Truths Started A War
by Julie A. Mertus

University Of C
378 pages $19.95
ISBN: 0520218655
Crossing Kosovo: American Ideals Meet Reality On The Balkan Battlefields
by David Fromkin

Free Press
210 pages $31
ISBN: 068486889X
The Battle of Kosovo
by John Matthias, Vladeta Vuckovic,

Swallow Press
76 pages TP
ISBN: 0804008973
Book Review
The Immaculate War
by Christopher Merrill
No one knows who won the Battle of Kosovo in 1389. But certainly the myths that grew out of the Saint Vitus Day clash between Serbian and Ottoman forces continue to reshape the international order. When the armies of Serbian Prince Lazar and Sultan Murad met on the Field of Blackbirds, both sides suffered heavy losses, including Murad’s assassination and the beheading of Lazar.
Book Review
La Condition
by Bogdan Czaykowski
He was three and a drummer, Kept going back in time, Prickling tatoos on his skin With the sticks of his drum. Had a magic cap, A fool’s motley for shame, He could see like the blind, He could talk like the mute. When silence strikes Half-normal states are born, Leaping fishes glow, Eyes pop out of smoke. Aquariums shine like balloons As the world rolls on, But we are invisible In the smoke of damp leaves. In company like a monster Lurks a human form.
McLuhan for the New Millenium A Guide to the Digital Age
by Paul Levinson,

pages TC
ISBN: 041519251X
Book Review
Digital Undoing Of Media Determinism
by François Lachance
Levinson is affable. He will trot out personal anecdotal hooks. He will relate his trepidation at meeting Marshall McLuhan. He will almost gush with recreated schoolboy delight at the approval he received. He will warmly mention the hospitality provided by McLuhan’s wife, Corrine. He will quote from his letter to Doubleday urging the publisher to consider McLuhan’s last book.
The Story Of Dr. Leonora Howard King
by Margaret Negodaeff-Tomsik

Canadian Medical Associati
236 pages $24.95
ISBN: 0920169333
Book Review
by Jeanette Bayduza
In Honour Due: The Story of Dr. Leonora Howard King (Canadian Medical Association, 236 pages, $24.95 paper, ISBN: 0920169333), Margaret Negodaeff-Tomsik chronicles the professional career of a pioneering woman whose life was shaped by dedication, perseverance, hard work—and a touch of luck. Leonora Howard left her small farming community of Athens, Ontario, to study medicine at the University of Michigan because, in 1872, women were not yet admitted to medical school in Canada.
Another Life
by Michael Korda,

pages TC
ISBN: 0679456597
Book Review
Literary Loss Leaders, Or The Obsolescence Of Writers
by Joel Yanofsky
In his essay collection, The Gutenberg Elegies, critic Sven Birkets confesses to keeping a file called “the reading wars”. In it, he accumulates evidence all pointing to the same unsettling conclusion: books are becoming obsolete. In our electronic age, Birkets argues, “the old act of slowly reading a serious book” is losing ground—and fast. Nowhere, it turns out, is the ground eroding faster than in the world of publishing, according to Michael Korda’s engaging and gossipy memoir, Another Life.
Book Review
A Teacher’S Life
by Douglas Fetherling
critic rather than a teacher, and felt uneasy in his long association with the University of British Columbia, Thomas has been that much rarer creature: a gifted teacher first and foremost. She’s published a number of books on CanLit, beginning with Canadian Novelists 1920-45 (1946). Others have included Love And Work Enough: The Life of Anna Jameson (1967) and several works wholly or largely devoted to Margaret Laurence and her writing
Book Review
Tobacco Wars
by Fred A. Reed
Books in Canada is to be congratulated for its decision to publish David Solway’s presentation of the enigmatic and elusive modern Greek poet, Andreas Karavis, in its October 1999 issue. For all too long, Greek poetry in particular and Greek letters in general have fallen into something of an eclipse on these shores.
Byron Child of Passion, Fool of Fame
by Benita Eisler,

800 pages TC
ISBN: 0679412999
Book Review
The Brothel’S Lewd Minstrel
by Maurice Elliott
Benita Eisler has written a very large and very heavy book on Lord Byron—perhaps the largest single volume ever. Now, there is clearly a demand for biographies and memoirs. The political memoir, royal gossip, and celebrity chat all contribute to an apparently insatiable longing for what Ms. Eisler says (with some exaggeration, I hope) are the only consolations in this century: “sex and consumerism”.
An Equal Music
by Vikram Seth

381 pages $29.95
ISBN: 1552780473
Book Review
Grieving In Orpheus’ Shadow
by Keith Garebian
Vikram Seth’s An Equal Music is quite unlike anything else he’s written. It forgoes the sweeping social vision of his epical A Suitable Boy and the spirited satire of his verse-novel, The Golden Gate, preferring instead to immerse itself in matters of artistic sensibility. The novel, an impassioned, romantic tale of two unequally gifted musicians, strains after the shimmer of consciousness, collecting discrete sensory impressions and informing them with the narrator’s sensibility.
Book Review
1999 Nobel Prize For Literature Günter Grass
by Thomas Salumets
On September 30, 1999, Günter Grass was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. The Nobel Foundation recognized him as a relentless critic of those who defend ideas at the expense of human beings and their environment. Above all, Grass was singled out for his role as the “great prober of the history of this century”. The award did not come as a surprise.
The Conspiracy Of Ignorance: The Failure Of American Public Schools
by Martin L. Gross

290 pages $36.5
ISBN: 0060194588
Book Review
Gambling With Our Kids
by Nathan Greenfield
Parents with kids in school and others familiar with our school systems will likely find that reading Martin L. Gross’ The Conspiracy of Ignorance: The Failure of American Public Schools leads to hitherto unknown desires to play poker.
Book Review
From The Borderlands: View Of Blackbird’S Field
by Krzysztof Czyzewski
remember that we were born together remember me there where others live where we do not know one another (Eqrem Basha) Eqrem Basha is a poet for whom the parable of the apocalypse is being fulfilled right before his eyes. He’s known its words since childhood. From early on, he’s composed its poetic routes in verse. Now, he’s witnessing their incarnation. The parable speaks of a land depopulated by cataclysm.
Jonathan Swift: A Portrait
by Victoria Glendinning

Doubleday Canada
325 pages $34.95
ISBN: 0385256612
Book Review
Yet One More Mention Of The Dean
by Ray Robertson
The best writers speak across the ages. When Jonathan Swift writes to Alexander Pope that he loves individuals but hates humankind, I’m intrigued. When, in the same letter, he offers his own definition of a human being not as animal rationale, but, instead, merely as animal rationas capex (“an animal capable of reason”), he’s got me. Here’s a man after my own hopelessly misanthropic heart.
Vera Portrait of a Marriage
by Stacy Schiff,

pages TC
ISBN: 0679447903
Book Review
Shade, Sybil, N’S Wife, Passim
by Dana Dragunoiu
Stacy Schiff has taken on a very difficult task: to write the story of a woman who deliberately sought to make her life impervious to the biographer’s gaze. Although Véra Nabokov (neé Slonim) recognized the need for a biography of her husband (and this in spite of her claim that he wished to exist solely in his literary work), she did not extend that necessity to herself
Wild Mouse
by Derek McCormack, Chris Chambers,

pages TC
ISBN: 0968188443
Halloween Suite
by Derek Mccorma

Pas De Chance
38 pages $15
ISBN: 1895325277
Wish Book: A Catalogue Of Stories
by Derek Mccormack

Gutter Press
144 pages $15.95
ISBN: 1896356257
Book Review
Mccormack’S Ideal Sample Case
by Darren Werschler-Henry
The fellow beside me opened up his grip. Ten trays folded out, all of them empty. “It’s the ideal sample case,” he said. “Comes in brown or black leather. You got your celluloid covers. You got your genuine aluminum trays, whatever size suits you. Guaranteed for twenty years.” (Derek McCormack’s “The Bell-Ringer”) Derek McCormack is the guttersnipe of Canadian Literature.
Letters to Editor
Letters To The Editor
by C.W. Hodgson
As a Cree Elder, I am grateful for A Story as Sharp as a Knife, by Robert Bringhurst, which was reviewed by Brian Brett in the October issue of Books in Canada. I read the book several months ago, and I consider it to be a gift to First Nation peoples across this land, as well as to those others who are interested in our languages and literatures, especially as, for the most part, the works written about us have been disheartening for me and others of First Nation ancestry.
Letters to Editor
Letter To The Editor
by Brian Brett
How delightful to read C.W. Hodgson’s letter and learn she was as impressed by Robert Bringhurst’s A Story as Sharp as a Knife as I was. Unfortunately, she is arguing at cross-purposes with the review. While it is an important and brilliant book, it has its flaws. One would be foolish to expect otherwise. The world is not white hats and black hats. Fine books, like fine people, often have more than a few faults and bad moments, which, sometimes, are even part of their charm.
Letters to Editor
Letters To The Editor
by David Solway
I appreciate Fred Reed’s response to my Karavis translations and commentaries in the October issue of BIC and take seriously his observations on certain aspects of the poet’s career and itinerary which I may not have fully accounted for. As Reed notes, Karavis is a mercurial and elusive figure whose biography will always remain to a large degree inaccessible. Nevertheless, I must object to some of his contentions.
by Bruce Taylor,

72 pages TP
ISBN: 1550651048
The Island In Winter
by Terence Young

Signal Editions
107 pages $12
ISBN: 1550651226
The Green Alembic
by Louise Fabiani

Signal Editions
81 pages $12
ISBN: 1550651234
Poetry As Good As Sin
by Richard Stevenson
Some poetic voices take a longer time to evolve than others. They steep or grow in character like a good wine or scotch. The elegiac mode, the self-deprecating wit, the quirky sense of humour, and the eye for detail you need to slip from anecdote to concise incandescent lyric aren’t attributes you find in younger poets’ work very often. But they are attributes Terrence Young exhibits in abundance
One Summer
by David MacFarlane,

pages TC
ISBN: 0676971903
Fits Like A Rubber Dress
by Roxane Ward

Simon & Pierre
304 pages $18.99
ISBN: 0889242844
A Fine Daughter
by Catherine Simm

Red Deer Press
328 pages $16.95
ISBN: 0889951926
First Novels
The Butterflies Are The Book’S Grace
by Diana Brebner
When David Macfarlane’s family saga, The Danger Tree, was first published in 1991, I spent a small fortune on copies for family and friends, and returned several times to Ottawa’s memorable Food for Thought bookstore to replace my constantly disappearing personal copy. When his first novel, Giller-nominated Summer Gone (Knopf Canada, 266 pages, $32.95 cloth, ISBN: 0676971903), came to me this past August, I set all tasks aside and read the book in one sitting.
Governor General Nominated Baltimore’S Mansion: A Memoir
by Wayne Johnston

Knopf Canada
272 pages $32.95
ISBN: 0676971466
Brief Reviews
by Wayne D.
From The Story of Bobby O’Malley down to his recently published The Colony of Unrequited Dreams, Wayne Johnston has established himself as one of Newfoundland’s most gifted writers. His readers will now be eager for a glimpse of the factual underpinnings to his splendid inventions. In his Governor General nominated Baltimore’s Mansion: A Memoir (Knopf Canada, 272 pages, $32.95 cloth, ISBN: 0676971466), Johnston provides his readers with something more and with something less than this.
The Drawer Boy
by Michael Healey,

Theatre Communications Group, Incorporated
128 pages TP
ISBN: 0887545688
Brief Reviews
by Caroly
An Ontario farmhouse in 1972. Enter Miles, a young, enthusiastic actor from Toronto involved in a collective production about farm life. Then, two poker-faced farmers with whom Miles stays for dramatic insight. Although urban audiences might expect to yawn through a tale of two farmers, Michael Healey’s riveting play, The Drawer Boy (Playwrights Canada Press, 66 pages, $13.95 paper, ISBN: 0887545688), commands wide-eyed attention.
Always & After
by Ellen Stafford

293 pages $32
ISBN: 0670886203
Brief Reviews
Brief Reviews
by Cece Scott
Ellen Stafford has travelled many miles in her life, but her longest journey was her evolution from a young, naive, manipulated, teenaged wife, into a confident, assertive woman fighting for the repressed and ultimately freeing herself along the way. Always & After (Viking, 293 pages, $32 cloth, ISBN: 0670886203) illuminates significant moments in history: life in the roaring twenties and, more poigantly, a woman’s place in society in the downtrodden, dirty thirties.
The Divorced Kids Club And Other Stories
by W.D. Valgardson

144 pages $7.95
ISBN: 0888993706
Brief Reviews
Children’S Books
by Jeffrey Canton
WD Valgardson’s latest offering, The Divorced Kids Club, is a compelling collection of short stories for YA readers in the tradition of Tim Wynne-Jones’ Some of the Kinder Planets and Sarah Ellis’ Back of Beyond. Valgardson is still known best as the author of fiction for adults like The Girl with the Botticelli Face and Gentle Sinners.
by Tim Wynne-Jones

Key Porter
344 pages $24.95
ISBN: 155263096X
Brief Reviews
by Eva Tihanyi
No word-mincing. If you read Tim Wynveen’s novel, Angel Falls (1997), and were wondering if someone who hadn’t published so much as a short story prior to that acclaimed, prizewinning, first book could create another equally successful work of fiction, the answer is an unequivocal “Yes.” Although Balloon (Key Porter, 344 pages, $24.
by Ishbel M

Kids Can
216 pages $16.95
ISBN: 1550745352
Children's Books
Children’S Books
by Katherine Matthe
Sylvie Marchione is fourteen years old and facing the typical stresses of adolescence: piano exams, schoolwork, a growing need to discover her place in the world. She must also cope with the increasingly embarassing and even threatening behaviour of her mother who, until recently, had been a meticulous teacher, housekeeper, and concerned parent
Nellie’S Victory
by Connie Brumme

Stoddart Kids
200 pages $7.99
ISBN: 0773674810
A Circle Of Silver
by Maxine Trottier

Stoddart Kids
220 pages $9.95
ISBN: 0773760555
Children's Books
Children’S Books
by Marnie Parsons
As a child, I loved historical fiction. I read most of the work of British writer Rosemary Sutcliff, and I devoured novels like Rifles for Waite and Johnny Tremaine. What I don’t recall, however, is reading Canadian historical fiction. A failure of memory or of my reach on library shelves? While I didn’t doubt our history was rich and intense, nor did I stumble across children’s writers who put that into language.
Bud, Not Buddy
by Christopher Paul

Doubleday Canada
272 pages $24.95
ISBN: 0385323069
Children's Books
Children’S Books
by Sherie Posesorski
Christopher Paul Curtis’ first YA novel, The Watsons Go To Birmingham—1963, was acclaimed for the appealing voice of its ten-year-old narrator; for its vibrantly authentic portrait of black, middle-class life in Flint, Michigan (where Curtis, now living in Windsor, was born); and for its convincing shifts between the comic and the near tragic in the story of the Watsons’ family life and their trip to Birmingham in the summer of 1963, when racist opposition to the civil rights movement culminated
The Run of the Dragon
by Iain Lawrence,

Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers
pages TC
ISBN: 0385326637
Children's Books
Children’S Books
by Jeffrey Canton
While Pottermania is taking the globe by storm, Canadian kids have a reason of their own to celebrate. Iain Lawrence, whose first book, The Wreckers, was greeted with critical acclaim last year, has just published The Smugglers. This sequel, which, if possible, is even more exciting than its predecessor, is sure to cement Lawrence’s reputation for literary excellence. The Wreckers introduced readers to fourteen-year-old John Spencer.
Share The Sky
by Ting-Xing Ye

Annick Press
32 pages $17.95
ISBN: 1550375784
My Four Lions
by Bernice Gold

Annick Press
24 pages $17.95
ISBN: 1550376020
Bye-Bye Pie
by Sharon Jenninngs,

pages TC
ISBN: 1550414054
Tall In The Saddle
by Anne Carter

Orca Book
32 pages $17.95
ISBN: 1551431548
Me And Mr. Mah
by Andrea Spalding

Orca Book
32 pages $17.95
ISBN: 1551431688
Children's Books
Children’S Books
by Mary Anne Cree
Families come in all shapes and sizes. This new crop of picture books shows children in a variety of family settings, dealing—sometimes practically, other times imaginatively—with the ups and downs of daily life. In Bye-Bye Pie, when Joey and Alfie’s grandmother tells them she is going to Greenland for a year, the boys kick into high gear, planning a party and making going-away gifts. Joey draws a self-portrait, makes a hand print, and presses flowers.
I Know An Old Laddie
by Jean Little

32 pages $13.99
ISBN: 067088085X
Periwinkle Isn’T Paris
by Marilyn Eisenstein

Tundra Books
32 pages $18.99
ISBN: 0887764517
The Magic Mustache
by Gary Barwin

Annick Press
32 pages $17.95
ISBN: 1550376071
Bing And Chutney
by Andrea Wayne Vo

Annick Press
32 pages $16.95
ISBN: 1550376098
Children's Books
Children’S Books
by Theo Heras
This fall features a fine crop of humourous stories for the picture book crowd that includes new titles by Jean Little and Andrea Wayne von Konigslow, as well as books by relatively new names like Gary Barwin, Rose Cowles, and Stephane Jorisch. The imagination of the prolific Jean Little has run rampant, fracturing “I know an old lady who swallowed a fly” shamelessly with I Know An Old Laddie. Her catchy refrain—“‘You’ll die,’ said I. ‘Not me,’ said he.

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