Book Reviews in September 2004 Issue

by Andrei Codrescu

HarperCollins Canada / Cdn Adult Hc $34.95 Hardcover
ISBN: 0002005794
Book Review
A Review of: Wakefield
by Michael Harris
The best candidate we have for the real Doctor Faustus may be the Johannes Faust who obtained his B.A. in divinity at Heidelberg shortly after the 16th century wrenched into gear. Imprisoned for one of many nasty deeds, Faust promised to remove the hair on the face of a gullible chaplain without the aid of a razor. A salve of arsenic was provided, removing both hair and flesh in one. Half a millennium later, writers still eat that one up. Not one to miss out on a good thing, Andrei Codrescu's latest novel, Wakefield, joins the ranks of Faustian remakes. Wakefield purports to ...
The Zanzibar Chest: A Memoir of Love and War
by Aidan Hartley

HarperCollins Canada / UK Non-Fict Hc $48.95 Hardcover
ISBN: 0002570599
Book Review
A Review of: The Zanzibar Chest
by Matt Sturrock
The critic James Wood has argued that some books are "so large, so serious, so ambitious" that they "flush away criticism." Aidan Hartley's memoir, The Zanzibar Chest, at 448 pages, is unquestionably large, but no more so than the many legal thrillers, Jazz album guides, or biographies of third-rate English gentry that are derided unto death in the weekend book sections every season. Yes, it is ambitious, but to a fault; the author's attempts to weave the variegated strands of family history, African politics, and personal experience into something whole are largely unsuccessful, while the ...
Sun Through The Blinds: Montreal Haiku Today
by Maxianne Berger, Angela Leuck

Shoreline $25.1 Paperback
ISBN: 1896754325
Book Review
A Review of: Sun Through the Blinds: Montreal Haiku Today
by Steven Laird
Just Google "haiku" on the Web. You'll get a million and a half entries from all over the world, all in Google's famous "0.14 seconds." That seems fitting for what is probably the world's shortest and most recognized form of poetry. People write haiku in just about every country, varying its simple three lines and tight metrics (in English, traditionally about 17 syllables) only slightly from one language to another. There have been at least two major worldwide conferences, hosting poets from Russia, the Balkans, Europe, North America, Australia, the Middle East, and of course Japan. Haiku's ...
Early Mapping of the Pacific: The Epic Story of Seafarers, Adventurers, and Cartographers Who Mapped the Earth's Greatest Ocean
by Thomas Suarez

Periplus $70 Hardcover
ISBN: 0794600921
Book Review
A Review of: Early Mapping Of The Pacific: The Epic Story Of Seafarers, Adventurers, and Cartographers Who Mapped The EarthÆs Greatest Ocean
by Greg Gatenby
The worst part of this book is the title, for it is dry, almost academically anemic. However the text inside is a terrific example of historical writing. The prose is fully accessible and jargon-free, yet plangent with research. The author manages that neat trick so rare among historians: he conveys an authority based upon years, if not decades, of study, while imparting a wealth of facts and stories in an engaging, comprehensible manner. Where water and coastline are concerned, the Pacific Ocean should mean almost as much to Canadians as the Atlantic, but it is the latter which dominates our textbooks ...
Lennon Legend: An Illustrated Life of John Lennon
by James Henke

Chronicle Books $56 Hardcover
ISBN: 0811835170
Book Review
A Review of: Lennon Legend: An Illustrated Life of John Lennon
by Greg Gatenby
Lennon Legend by James Henke demonstrates wonderful design. Indeed, the complexity of the design is a principal facet of the book as a whole. The text is a straightforward account of the biographical facts of Lennon's life. Not being a Beatlemaniac, I cannot say whether superior biographies exist. But there can be no better book constructed in homage to John Lennon. The inner sleeve of this slipcased hardback contains a pocket holding a CD of Lennon speaking about his life and work. Nothing too exceptional about that. But that is where the ordinary ends and the awesome begins. The next few pages ...
Old Toronto Houses
by Tom Cruickshank, John Visser

Firefly Books $59.95 Hardcover
ISBN: 1552977315
Book Review
A Review of: Old Toronto Houses
by Greg Gatenby
To its disgrace, no other big city in Canada pays as little respect to its history as Toronto. Where Montreal, for example, happily honours its historical figures with street names, parks, and squares, Toronto, in contrast, avoids naming streets after heroes, preferring the addiction of naming its streets after yet more trees or after the relatives of property developers. The politicians untroubled by this amnesia clearly do not read books, for the city has been blessed with many fine histories-and one of the best has just been published: Old Toronto Houses. The text, by Tom Cruickshank, exudes the confidence ...
The Annex: The Story of a Toronto Neighbourhood
by Jack Batten

Boston Mills Press $39.95 Hardcover
ISBN: 1550464019
Book Review
A Review of: The Annex: The Story of a Toronto Neighbourhood
by Greg Gatenby
I once toyed with the idea of editing an anthology of work by authors who had lived in a small area of Toronto known as "The Annex." After cursory research I gave up the idea because I realized more authors had lived in that tiny adjunct of the city than in any other neighbourhood in Canada and an authoritative anthology would run to several volumes. That life in the Annex has also been the subject of scores (if not hundreds) of novels and stories would have further complicated my editorial task. The wealth of that history is fetchingly well mined in Jack Batten's The Annex: The Story of a ...
Harry's War
by D. Edward Bradley

Wexford College Press $18.81 Paperback
ISBN: 1929148224
Book Review
A Review of: Harry's War
by M. Wayne Cunningham
To the accumulated tradition of British boarding school literature initiated by Thomas Hughes's Tom Brown's Schooldays, and perfected by James Hiltons's, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, add Kingston Ontario author, D. Edward Bradley's, first-class, auto-biographical novel, Harry's War. It's England of 1941 to 1945, and teenaged school boy, Harry Lockwood, with his father soldiering in North Africa and his mother toiling in a munitions factory, has two wars to survive. One is the overarching Battle of Britain, which forces him to dodge explosions from the dreaded German buzz bombs and ballistic missiles, V1 and V2 rockets. ...
Among the Brave
by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing $23.95 Hardcover
ISBN: 0689857942
Book Review
A Review of: Among the Brave
by M. Wayne Cunningham
Beat time, Imagine a world with food so scarce the Population Police, led by the despotic Aldous Krakenaur, are systematically scouring fake IDs and annihilating all third-borns to limit families to two children. That's the frightening world of Margaret Peterson Haddix's fifth volume in her hugely successful Shadow Children series. Here 13-year-old Trey, a Latin and French spouting kid with "cowardice" as his middle name conspires with Mark Garner, the reckless, hell-raising brother of Trey's friend Luke (a hero from an earlier volume), to solve a murder, ...
The hunger
by Marsha Skrypuch

Boardwalk Books $12.99 Paperback
ISBN: 1895681162
Book Review
A Review of: The Hunger
by M.J. Fishbane
Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch's sequel to her 1999 novel, Nobody's Child, continues the story of three orphaned children during the Adana Massacre of 1909. Both of these books offer gripping stories. One can read them separately, but in order to see these character's lives in all their depth, I would recommend reading them both. That way the reader can fill in plot gaps, and also see how Skrypuch plays with the narrative. In The Hunger, Paula's eating disorder is paralleled with the events taking place during her Armenian grandmother's childhood. When Paula ...
Nobody's Child
by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch

Dundurn Press $12.99 Paperback
ISBN: 1550024426
Book Review
A Review of: NobodyÆs Child
by M.J. Fishbane
Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch's sequel to her 1999 novel, Nobody's Child, continues the story of three orphaned children during the Adana Massacre of 1909. Both of these books offer gripping stories. One can read them separately, but in order to see these character's lives in all their depth, I would recommend reading them both. That way the reader can fill in plot gaps, and also see how Skrypuch plays with the narrative. In The Hunger, Paula's eating disorder is paralleled with the events taking place during her Armenian grandmother's childhood. When Paula ...
by Dianne Linden

Fitzhenry & Whiteside $8.95 Paperback
ISBN: 1550502719
Book Review
A Review of: Peacekeepers
by M.J. Fishbane
In Dianne Linden's novel Peacekeepers Nellie Letita Hopkins's mother is a peacekeeper on assignment in Bosnia. Nellie lives with her bachelor Uncle Martin and her troubled younger brother Mike and goes to a school that she affectionately calls, "JAWS." Linden parallels Nellie's struggle for survive at school with her mother's experiences in Bosnia. After being threatened by Bonnie, one of the school bullies, for standing up to Bonnie's boyfriend, Nellie is afraid to go to school. Nellie feels that her own personal safely is in jeopardy. She gets help from her friend Sam and his older brother Ziad, who ...
Book Review
A Review of: Cuckoo
by Sharon Abron Drache
A Jewish voice split simultaneously between three worlds, Europe, Israel and North America, is the mish-mash that best describes Avner Mandelman's nine stories in his second collection of short fiction, a sequel to Talking to the Enemy, winner of the Jewish Book Award for fiction. "Mish-mash" is also the title of the concluding story in Cuckoo, and like the previous eight, it reveals a staggering number of veiled complexities in both the religious and secular lives of Israeli citizens. Born in Israel in 1947, Mandelman served in his native country's air ...
The Bone Woman: a Forensic Anthropologist's Search for Truth in Rwanda, Bosnia, Croatia,and Kosovo
by Clea Koff

Knopf Canada $34.95 Hardcover
ISBN: 0676976069
Book Review
A Review of: The Bone Woman: A Forensic AnthropologistÆs Search for Truth in Rwanda, Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo
by Todd Swift
American poet and critic Edgar Allan Poe wrote that no topic could be more poetic than that which related death to a beautiful woman. Poe's necrophiliac narrative strategies have since become somewhat commonplace: the yellow police line is one both readers and television viewers willingly cross often, and the number of "profilers" and "forensic" experts, fictional and less-so, of whom we have grown fond (from FBI agent Starling onwards), has swollen like a body left too long in water. The trope has become a character, and that character tends to be a determined woman interested in looking at dead people in ...
Colin's Big Thing: A Sequence
by Bruce Serafin

Ekstasis Editions $19.95 Paperback
ISBN: 1894800265
Book Review
A Review of: Colin's Big Thing: A Sequence
by Brian Fawcett
The publication of Bruce Serafin's Colin's Big Thing is a major intellectual and literary event for the West Coast. Or rather, it ought to be, but the book likely won't get the A-list play it deserves. As a reader, I've known about Serafin for almost a quarter century now. Nearly everything he's written has been worth reading, and I and lot of others have regretted his reluctance to write and publish more. A first book by Serafin was rumoured to be in the works 15 years ago, and even then, people were saying "It's about time," and so the ...
The Fountain at the Center of the World
by Robert Newman

Soft Skull Press $18.81 Paperback
ISBN: 1932360115
Book Review
A Review of: The Fountain at the Center of the World
by Jeff Bursey
A roman thse is "a novel written in the realistic mode (that is, based on an aesthetic of verisimilitude and representation), which signals itself to the reader as primarily didactic in intent, seeking to demonstrate the validity of a political, philosophical, or religious doctrine," as Susan Rubin Suleiman explains in Authoritarian Fictions: The Ideological Novel as a Literary Genre. In the main, Robert Newman's third novel fits this definition. The Fountain at the Center of the World has generated favourable press in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States for its critical position on the ...
Original Minds
by Eleanor Wachtel

Harper Collins Canada $24.95 Paperback
ISBN: 0006394191
Book Review
A Review of: Original Minds: Conversations with CBC RadioÆs Eleanor Wachtel
by Michael Greenstein
Eleanor Wachtel's voice on CBC Sunday afternoon's Writers & Company is as familiar by now to the arts' scene as Barbara Frum's was in the political arena. Original Minds is her third collection of conversations, and Wachtel engages her guests and their listeners with her thoughtful questions. Carol Shields's generous "Foreword" well describes Wachtel's techniques of interviewing writers and thinkers who grip us at every turn of the conversation. It would be interesting to read a comparative study of National Public Radio, CBC, and BBC to get a more comprehensive view of the arts in various countries. ...
Goldberg Variations
by Gabriel Josipovici

Independent Publishers Group $25.95 Paperback
ISBN: 1857545974
Book Review
A Review of: Goldberg: Variations
by Jeff Bursey
It sounds like an ideal job for an author, to put a man to sleep by reading to him, but Samuel Goldberg's task is made more difficult by the stipulation that he can't read from works already written. Instead, he is asked to come up with new material every night for his employer, Tobias Westfield, a condescending pseudo-philosopher who is unable to find rest. This is the conceit which begins the latest novel from Gabriel Josipovici, who has had published fiction, plays, criticism, essays and a memoir. Novels about writers often read as an inside joke, and can be ...
Chapel of Extreme Experience: A Short History of Stroboscopic Light and the Dream Machine
by John Geiger

Soft Skull Press $15.04 Paperback
ISBN: 1932360018
Book Review
A Review of: Chapel of Extreme Experience: A Short History of Stroboscopic Light and the Dream Machine
by Nancy Wigston
What a strange and delight-filled book is John Geiger's "short history" of science, art and the brain. Plunging us back into a time of idealistic and mind-expanding adventurers that included Aldous Huxley, William S. Burroughs, and Allen Ginsberg, Geiger's book reminds us that that psychedelic' journeys were originally a serious business, and only gradually widened-many would argue degenerated-into a mass cultural phenomena. Geiger skillfully takes us through the earliest days when science began to probe light and the mind, beginning in 1823 with a Goethe ...
Dark Threats and White Knights
by Sherene Razack

University Of Toronto Press $24.95 Paperback
ISBN: 0802086632
Book Review
A Review of: Dark Threats & White Knights: The Somalia Affair, Peacekeeping, and the New Imperialism
by Eric Miller
Perhaps eighty soldiers heard Shidane Abukar Arone's screams on the night of 16 March 1993-a night in the course of which the sixteen-year-old Somalian died of torture inflicted at Belet Huen by Canadian peacekeepers. This fact substantiates Sherene H. Razack's claim, in her Dark Threats & White Knights, that violence, like racism, was routine at the Canadian camp and that we commit an error when we seek overmuch to individualize it in the persons of Master Corporal Clayton Matchee and Private Kyle Brown, who bear the primary responsibility for Arone's death. In effect, Razack's book implicates ...
Book Review
A Review of: Vermeer in Bosnia
by Gordon Phinn
Readers will arrive at this book through one of three routes: Staunch New Yorker supporters will be gratified that yet another of the magazine's contributors now has a plump compendium of his wit, travels and wisdom available for those long cool retroviews which the winter months alone can afford. Serious Weschler wonks, those who long ago collared his talent for their collections, relishing in such titles as Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees, Calamities of Exile and that Pulitzer prize nominee Mr Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder, can beam with pride as they place Vermeer In Bosnia beside their ...
Cold Terror: How Canada Nurtures and Exports Terrorism to the World
by Stewart Bell

John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd. $36.99 Hardcover
ISBN: 0470834633
Book Review
A Review of: Cold Terror: How Canada Nurtures and Exports Terrorism Around the World
by Martin Loney
The attack on the World Trade centre was a transforming moment in American politics, putting the issue of national security at the top of the agenda. The failures of American intelligence and the culpability of government agencies have been at the forefront of debate and Congressional and Senate investigations. Canada has seen no similar paradigm shift, though as Stewart Bell clearly demonstrates, Canada is not only at risk of terrorist attack it is a major source of terrorist organisation and financing. Canada has done so little to confront terrorist groups that Bell pithily observes, "Its most ...
The Lesser Evil - Political Ethics in an Age of Terror
by Michael Ignatieff

Penguin $22 Paperback
ISBN: 0143017357
Book Review
A Review of: The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror
by Martin Loney
Michael Ignatieff is one of the distressingly few progressive intellectuals who have been prepared to take the threat of terror seriously; too many have preferred to share with Canada's former Prime Minister, Jean Chretien, the comforting fallacy that at root the problem lies in poverty, its redress in "equity". Ignatieff has the courage to recognize that what motivates terrorists is nihilism. Al Qaeda does not want what we have, it wants to punish the West and others who fail to share its myopic vision. The purpose of terrorism "is to strike a blow that asserts the dignity of Muslim believers ...
Shackled Continent
by Robert Guest

Macmillan $46.23 Hardcover
ISBN: 1405033886
Book Review
A Review of: The Shackled Continent
by Christopher Ondaatje
Anyone who wants to be reminded about the horrors of Africa, economic or otherwise, will be interested to read this intelligent but light treatise by Robert Guest, the Africa editor of The Economist. He has spent three years traveling and writing about wars, famines and crazy monetary policies in nearly all of Africa's sub-Saharan countries. What Guest sets out to do in The Shackled Continent is to pose and answer the riddle as to why Africa is the only continent to have grown poorer over the past three decades and to diagnose the sickness that continues to plague Africa's development. Why are so many of African ...
Intelligence in War: Knowledge of the Enemy from Napoleon to Al-Qaeda
by John Keegan

Key Porter Books $49.95 Hardcover
ISBN: 1552632199
Book Review
A Review of: Intelligence in War: Knowledge of the Enemy from Napoleon to Al-Qaeda
by Brian Fawcett
John Keegan is the most gifted military historian-in any language-of the last thirty years, and arguably, of the last century. The Face of Battle (1976) which analyzed three seminal battles across Western history beginning with Agincourt in 1431, following with Waterloo in 1815 and culminating with the Somme in 1916, altered the way war was regarded by refusing to separate the strategic elements from the human ones. Keegan has insisted, as his primary intellectual stance, that war always has a human face, and his genius lies in his ability to reveal it without obscuring it with statistics or sentimental pathos. ...
The Peloponnesian War
by Donald Kagan

Viking $45 Hardcover
ISBN: 0670032115
Book Review
A Review of: The Peloponnesian War
by David A. Welch
"The majority of the promises and expectations of the proponents of the initial expedition had proven to be unfounded, while most of the fears of the opponents had been justified. The Shi'ites and Sunnis had not joined the Americans with enthusiasm and in great numbers, al-Qaeda was now engaged, and the Ba'athists were resisting with renewed morale. We might expect the American people to have felt deceived by the optimists, and to have conceded the wisdom of the doubters and recalled the expedition . . ."(Kagan, The Peloponnesian War, p. 296.) ...
God's Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible
by Adam Nicolson

Harper Collins Canada $21.95 Paperback
ISBN: 0060959754
Book Review
A Review of: GodÆs Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible
by Clara Thomas
Adam Nicolson's story of the making of the King James Bible is a resounding success. However, there is a certain generational element to the reception of his work: if you are not a devotee of the majestic rhythms and the seventeenth century language of this version of the Bible, you are unlikely to be captivated by the complex story of its making. If, on the contrary, you find every other translation to be a pale shadow of this one and cling stubbornly to its archaisms, this book will confirm satisfactorily your good taste and satisfy your discerning eye and ear. ...
The Malady of Islam
by Abdelwahab Meddeb

HarperCollins Canada / Basic Books $37 Hardcover
ISBN: 0465044352
Book Review
A Review of: The Malady of Islam
by by Gianni Vattimo and Santiago Zabala
The thesis of this thoughtful book by Abdelwahab Meddeb, Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Paris X-Nanterre, and editor of the journal Ddale, is immediately expressed in the first pages of the opening chapter: "If fanaticism was the sickness in Catholicism, if Nazism was the sickness in Germany, then surely fundamentalism is the sickness in Islam." Therefore, "the spectacular attacks of September 11, which struck the heart of the United States, is a crime. A crime committed by Islamists." This is a useful book not only for all those Westerners who have difficulty understanding why ...
Still Life With Bombers: Israel in the Age of Terrorism
by David Horovitz

Knopf $38 Hardcover
ISBN: 1400040671
Book Review
A Review of: Still Life with Bombers
by David Solway
David Horovitz is the highly respected editor of The Jerusalem Report. He is a British national who emigrated to Israel in 1983 and immersed himself passionately in every aspect of Israeli life and culture, marrying and starting a family, building long-standing friendships with Muslims as well as Jews, and devoting himself to a stern and honest effort toward making sense of the Devil's Polymer which is the Middle East. In the course of daily life as well as professional practice, he has laboured to do justice to the competing claims of the various sides in the conflict, travelling the length and breadth of ...
How Israel Lost: The Four Questions
by Richard Ben Cramer

Simon & Schuster Canada $35 Hardcover
ISBN: 0743250281
Book Review
A Review of: How Israel Lost: The Four Questionsh
by David Solway
Richard Ben Cramer is a secular Jews who earns his living as a journalist with a pronounced interest in Middle East affairs. He is a Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter and freelance writer for various newspapers and magazines. He adopts the paradigm of the four questions traditionally asked at the Passover seder-why do we eat only unleavened bread on Pesach? why do we eat bitter herbs at the seder? why do we dip our food twice tonight? why do we lean on a pillow tonight?-as a template on which to organize the four chapters of his book. Except he inflects the questions to read: why do we care about ...
American Empire and the Fourth World: The Bowl with One Spoon, Part One
by Anthony J. Hall

McGill-Queens University Press $49.95 Hardcover
ISBN: 0773523324
Book Review
A Review of: The American Empire and the Fourth World: The Bowl With One Spoon, Part One
by Fraser Bell
No two generations of historians see the past in quite the same way, which is how it ought to be. Revisionism is inevitable and necessary otherwise history would become atrophied and one-dimensional, like a Byzantine fresco; it would cease to be a repository of ideas and simply become the pastime of the antiquarian and the re-enactor enthusiast. Unfortunately though there is a tendency among some of the revisionists to distort the usual relationship between past and present, so that their version of history smacks of pamphleteering or advocacy journalism. This sort of history contains a number of ...
Unnatural Law: Rethinking Canadian Environmental Law and Policy
by David R. Boyd

UBC Press $29.95 Paperback
ISBN: 0774810491
Book Review
A Review of: Unnatural Law: Rethinking Canadian Environmental Law and Policy
by David Colterjohn
In May 2000, an outbreak of E. Coli bacteria contaminated the drinking water in Walkerton, Ontario. Seven people died and thousands of others were sickened in an incident that attracted intense national media scrutiny. The ensuing wave of public outrage forced the Ontario provincial government to introduce new legislation, the Safe Drinking Water Act, which binds that province's municipalities to mandatory water safety standards. Far from being an anomaly, Walkerton's water safety problems are shared by the residents of hundreds of other Canadian communities, ...
20:21 Vision: Twentieth-Century Lessons for the Twenty-First Century
by Bill Emmott

Douglas & McIntyre / Fsg Adult $35 Hardcover
ISBN: 0374279659
Book Review
A Review of: 20:21 Vision: Lessons for the Twenty-First Century
by Andrew Allentuck
Movie mogul Sam Goldwyn is supposed to have said, "never make forecasts, especially about the future." In 20:21 Vision: Lessons for the Twenty-First Century, Bill Emmott ignores that caution. Editor-in-chief of the distinguished British weekly, The Economist, he bravely takes up where gloomsters like Nostradamus and Thomas Malthus left off. With elegant words and a great deal of data, Emmott assures the ready that, though the road through the new century may be rough, the ride will be better than it was during the last. Emmott is on treacherous ground, for world events don't play out in ...
Immigrant Blues
by Goran Simic

Brick $15 Paperback
ISBN: 1894078284
Book Review
A Review of: A Severe Elsewhere, Translated by Amela Simic
by Ken Babstock
The analogy has surely been used before: the experience of seeing a reproduction of a painting is one thing; the composition, colour, and some of the resonance is there. But to see up close the actual brushstrokes that cumulatively account for a painting's visual force is another order of aesthetic engagement altogether. Even while being thankful for the gift of a poet from another language translated into our own, one still reads through a collection like this lamenting one's own limiting condition as a monoglot. How I wish I could read, or at least soon hear (though critical faculties would be useless), ...
Book Review
A Review of: Wanting the Day: Selected Poems
by Mark Callanan
To my great embarrassment, aside from the occasional poem in literary journals, and possibly a collection along the way during my undergraduate days, I have not truly read Brian Bartlett. As a result, I approach Wanting the Day as if it were a keyhole to the door I've never taken the time to open. In the author's note at the end of Wanting the Day, Bartlett explains that the poems "are arranged to reflect the sequence of their original collections," but re-ordered within these selections from the originals, "giving the poems new neighbours" (Camber is similarly shuffled). While new resonance can be ...
Camber: Selected Poems
by Don McKay

McClelland & Stewart $19.99 Paperback
ISBN: 0771057652
Book Review
A Review of: Camber: Selected Poems 1983-2000
by Mark Callanan
To say that I am a great admirer of Don McKay's poetry would be a vast understatement, though it was only a few short years ago that I thumbed through a copy of Birding, or desire at a friend's house, arriving randomly on page seventeen. There I found "How to Make a Fool of Yourself in the Autumn Woods", and was immediately hooked, mostly by the lines "let / your insides become / the most banal of valentines." I flipped again and this time came upon "Alias Rock Dove, Alias Holy Ghost" (a poem also included in the first section of Camber): ...

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