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commemorated by the government. The photographer, looking for an event that will make him famous, becomes involved in observing Gil, in waiting for this 'decent, hard-working man' to do something unusual, to react in some way to having been made a symbolic if irrelevant accessory to a modem miracle. The photographer's waiting and observing constitute what Forster aptly termed the 'and then, and then' factor in narrative, and simply on this level Zoom is a gripping mystery novel with some elements of the nouveau roman. But Brycht uses this narrative as a scaffolding or infrastructure upon which or by means of which he can explore larger or more portentous issues. In particular, the photographer and his mentor- both of whom would be at home in the amoral world of Jerzy Kosinski attempt to understand the religious significance of Gerber's act by explaining it in various reductive ways. Their dialogues as well as the photographer's meditations return compulsively to the priest's saintly gesture because they sense that through him they may find an answer to the meaninglessness of their own secular and materialistic lives. In addition to this theme Brycht is also concerned with how the artistnovelist or photographer - uses reality for his own purposes, and how he dehumanizes himself in order to achieve a memorable photograph, film, or novel. An early reference to the famous photograph of a Loyalist soldier taken at the moment he is hit by a bullet alerts us to this level of significance, which culminates in the photographer's shooting of a railway disaster rather than helping the people injured in it. Although Brycht does not resolve the moral and aesthetic issues he raises, and although the plotting is heavy-handed at the end, Zoom is a sufficiently interesting novel that it leaves one, as does Zinger and Me, hoping for more from the same author. 2 / R.P. BILAN As the 1970S come to an end it's worth looking back for a moment over what has happened in Canadian fiction during this decade. At the beginning of the 1970S the dominant fiction writers were Margaret Laurence , Mordecai Richler, and Robertson Davies. As the decade wore on, however, they were relatively silent and a number of younger writers emerged into prominence, most notably Rudy Wiebe. With The Blue Mountains of China, The Temptations of Big Bear, and especially The Scorched-Wood People Wiebe has a good claim to be seen as the major novelist of the decade. There have also been individual works of a high order - particularly Michael Ondaatje's Coming Through Slaughter - and Alice Munro has maintained the level of her earlier work. However, apart from the emergence of Wiebe, I think that the most interesting develop- FICTION I 2 )25 ment (though not as yet accomplishment) of the latter part of the 1970S has been the increased turn to fiction by Margaret Atwood, the appearance of Jack Hodgins, and the attempt by Hugh Hood to document the past in his series The New Age. All this is by way of preamble to announcing a year in which we had no single work of real distinction but in which we did have new work by Atwood, Hodgins, and Hood. Further, there are new collections of short stories from Ann Copeland and Mavis Gallant, and additional novels from Matt Cohen and Brian Moore, two of our most prolific writers. Before taking up these works, however, Iwant to mention briefly some of the other works that appeared. Rudy Wiebe was, in fact, involved in the production of a book this year, but Alberta / A Celebration (Hurtig, 208, $29.95) is an anniversary book which exists mainly for the sake of its photographs (some of which are stunning); Wiebe simply adds a number of very brief stories, often just vignettes, portraying the voices of the various people of Alberta. The stories fulfil their purpose, but they make no pretence to being a real addition to Wiebe's serious fiction. Audrey Thomas's Latakia (Talonbooks, 172, $7.95) is a major disappointment. Compared with her last book of short stories, Ladies and Escorts, this novel, dealing with a menage atrois and centring...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 324-336
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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