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326 LETTERS IN CANADA "977 anger with each repetition of 'ones' but it is an anger mixed with an unpitying self-laceration; there is also a combination of frustration, incomprehension, shame, and anger in the references to her past life with Tom. Finally, what I especially admire about the passage is how the various almost incidental details combine to form a unified understated impression: the dreary December scene with the snow melted, Tom's four days' growth of beard, Nixon, and the setting, the dingy laundromat - these are all parts of the same physical and emotional landscape. This kind of attention to setting, imagery, and character is evident throughout the collection and indicates, I think, the quality of Rooke's craftsmanship. A further aspect of this is his ability to give a distinctive voice to each of the narrators of the three stories told in the first person. .The young woman in 'Call Me Belladonna,' the remorseful married man in 'HYou Love Me Meet Me There,' and the frenzied speaker of 'Memoirs of a Cross Country Man' are all distinguishable simply by their voices. The control of nuances of tone in each of these is, in itself, no small achievement. And yet having made this judgment I can't help adding that I wish Rooke would attempt more ambitious fictions involving slightly more complex characters and themes. The Love Parlour is very satisfying within its limitations, but it presents neither a comprehensive nor a profound vision of life. 2 / R.P. BILAN In 1977 there was an abundance of fiction from our established writers. Of the many works that appeared, the most important are Timothy Findley's The Wars, Hugh Hood's A New Athens, Audrey Thomas's Ladies & Escorts, Margaret Atwood's Dancing Girls, Howard O'Hagan's Tile School-Ma rm Tree, Morley Callaghan'S Close to the Sun Again, Jack Hodgins's The Invention of the World, and Rudy Wiebe's The ScorchedWood People. The novels by Findley and Hood are striking in certain parts, but not successful on the whole, so I treat them very briefly. The other works - especially Wiebe's Th e Scorched-Wood People, which is the finest novel of the year - are more consistently successful and demand more extensive discussion. Timothy Findley'S Th e Wars (Clarke Irwin, 226, $9.95) is essentially an account of the effects of the horrors of war - World Wart - on the novel's central character, Robert Ross. Findley writes vividly about violence, and his stunning if grotesque deSCription of men facing poison gas without their masks is the best thing in the book.The whole war episode turns into a nightmare vision, and we see men breaking under the strain of the carnage. The power of this part of the novel is undeniable but it does not offset the shortcomings of the work as a whole. Much of the FICTION / 2 327 story is deliberately told in an extremely simple style, at times so simplified that it excludes the expression of any complexity of thought or feeling. A description of Robert Ross on the opening page provides a typical example: 'His lips were slightly parted. He could not breathe through his nose. It was broken. His face and the backs of his hands were streaked with clay and sweat. His hair hung down across his forehead. He was absolutely still. He had wandered now for over a week.' Findley, I suppose, is trying to create an effect of just barely controlled hysteria and violence, but at times the style seems like a bad imitation of Hemingway and the repetition of the short, clipped sentences eventually becomes tedious. Further, the central character never comes to life; up to the end he is a mere recorder ofwhat's going on around him. He's offered to us as a kind of 'hero: but he seems to me only minimally even a character. Hugh Hood is a writer with diverse intellectual interests, but to write a good novel an author's interests need to be transformed into fiction and in A New Athens (Oberon, 226, $6.95) this does not happen. Hood, it is true, is not trying to...


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