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316 THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY (Carillon poetry chap-books; Toronto, Crucible Press, 36 pp., SOc.). Pratt (E. J.), Still life and other verse (Toronto, Macmillan, viii, 40 pp., $1.25). Ridley (L. A.), Christmas Eve and other poems (Carillon poetry chap-books; Toronto, Crucible Press, vi, 16 pp.). Smith (A. J. M.) ed., The book of Canadian poetry: a critical and historical anthology (Chicago, University of Chicago Press; Toronto, Gage, 452 pp., $4.00); News of the phoenix and other poems (Toronto, Ryerson; N. Y., Coward-McCann, viii, 42 pp., $1.50). Stringer (Arthur)~ Shadowed victory (Indianapolis, Bobbs-Merrill, 78 pp., $2.00). Watt (F. B.), Who dare to live (Toronto, Macmillan, viii, 68 pp., $1.75). ' II. FICTION J. R. MAcGILLIVRAy The amount of Canadian fiction published in 1943 was smaller than in any year since these annual surveys were begun. Only fourteen volumes have come to hand, less than one-third of the number in 1936 (even if serials and works by Americans about Canada are there excluded). Nor can it be said that there is a higher average of quality this year, nor one outstanding novel even by local and recent standardsl to compensate for the decline in total output. One or perhaps two noteworthy volumes of Canadian sketches have appeared, and one novel which is at least much better than anything its author has published recently, but the other books taken by and large are not to be distinguished from the ordinary productions of any year. Once again historical fiction makes·up a considerable part of the brief list. The romance of the past. is a pleasant enough subject on occasion, but even the wellauthenticated days of the log-cabin and the unimpeachable exploits of our Loyalist forbears appear a bit dim and insubstantial at times. It seems unlikely that a national literature can ever be adequately nourished on such thin imaginative fare.. One of these days unless it develops a taste for more nutritious matter, our pleasant but ailing Canadian fiction may just fade away like the Cheshire Cat, leaving nothing to be seen but the smile. The first of the volumes of sketches mentioned above is Stand on a Rainbow, by Mary Quayle Innis. It is a story-s_ equence of two dozen chapters, each complete in itself, but together comprising a chronicle of one year in the strenuous .but ordinary existence of Leslie Everett and her children from the end of one summer vacation to the height of the next. There is a Mr Everett also, a good-natured but imperfectly domesticated person, well-intentioned but a trifle obtuse, apparently unaware of how fortunate he is to LETTERS IN CANADA: 1943 317 be a man and have a nice restful office down town and not have to be a housekeeper, cook, mentor, and friend to a· husband, three lively children, and a dog. Nothing out of the way happens to the Everetts. The children are dejected at leaving the summer cottage and a .few hours later are glad to get back home. Autumn brings its routine of school and play. One day the dog is lost and nothing can go forward until he is found. The point of view in the book is that of Mrs Everett. She contemplates her family and herself with a combination of critical realism, humour, and wistfulness. She tries to be "a friend of the children," to keep them from growing away from her, and to recapture the happiest sensations of her own childhood in their company. She is, of course, a romantic at heart, and often experiences in a mild and amusing form the romantic's pangs of disillusionment. She prepares nice costumes for a Hansel and Gretel play; they prove to be just the thing for a screaming impromptu melodrama of the Mad Scientist and Superman. Christmas time sets her dreaming about the Sunday School entertainments in her youth; her disappointing progeny can hardly wait for their special treat, the annual shopping spree at Woolworth's. Stand on a Rainbow is an engaging, lively, and amusing book about the most trivial domestic incidents. Within its limits of observation it is extraordinarily true to life. I...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 316-324
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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