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170 LEITERS IN CANADA 1980 are similarly provocative. Talking to Margaret Penman on 'Sunday Supplement' in October 1975, however, he gave the story another slant: One particular critic said of Fifth Business that it was very conventional, that I never attempted experiment or anything of that sort. So I thought, all right my fine friend, field this one. So I wrote The Manticore, which is all about Boy Staunton, but he isn't the principal character. It's the way he's reflected from his son. And did that fat head see it? No, he did not, predictably. This does not necessarily conflict with the account of The Manticore's genesis in Lawrence and Macey's collection, but it is a reminder that truth is many-faceted, and that Davies is not the man to diminish its variety. (JUDITH SKELTON GRANT) Robert Kroetsch. The Crow Journals NeWest Press. 92. $12.95 doth, $6.95 paper The novel has been traced, in part at least, to the traditions of memoir, diary, and journal, of Protestant self-scrutiny and, later, Romantic self-indulgence. Modern novelists such as Gide and Huxley adapted the form by incorporating journals into their works, using them to give dramatic intimacy and to offer a running commentary on the composition of their novels. Robert Kroetsch now extends the tradition by publishing a journal kept while he was writing his novel What the Crow Said. The Crow !ournalsis an intimate literary diary, a blendingof truth and artfulness that portrays the artist in pursuit of the truth of his art. Kroetsch calls it 'only sort of a book, a not-quite-a-book book: but its unfinished quality is deliberate and effective. Set between 1973 and 1978, the journal is necessarily orderly and chronological; however, its entries are so short and varied, often impressionistic rather than factual, that the effect is erratic. Moreover, Kroetsch is always in transit. He travels back and forth from Binghamton, New York, to Saskatchewan, to Manhattan, to Alberta, to Ontario, to Vancouver Island. This route continually takes him back to the area in western Canada where he was born and where he has set his novel, the 'new old place' that he must recliscover in both life and literature. It takes him to friends, relatives, students, and colleagues with whom he discusses literary problems. Itprovides him with ideas and details - bees, crows, flying, clowns, magic, names, an old print shop, tall tales - that readers familiar with What the Crow Said will recognize from the novel. This fragmentary style gives the journal the quality of much of Kroetsch's poetry. It is puzzling but provoking. Each fragment inclirectly comments on every other one, making the work as a whole grow rich in HUMANITIES 171 significance and suggestion. This technique encourages us to look for what Kroetsch calls the 'text beneath the text, an everlasting grope into the shape of that darkness.' Like the author composing his novel, we seek the ordering themes and principles that give coherence to the apparent randomness of his comments. One organizing agent in The Crow Journals is simply the voice of the author. It is inquisitive but hesitant, puzzled by itself but pleased with its own eloquence. Kroetsch deprecates his talent even as he tries to muster it in order to write his novel. In short, he speaks in the voice of a writer fascinated by the nature and power of his artistry. He turns a seemingly haphazard diary into a carefully drawn self-portrait of the artistundertaking the essential task of his life. Because his writing arises from his varied experiences, he must examine his past, roots, loves, and friends to see how they have contributed to his work. Ultimately his concern is the paradoxical relation between his life and his work, that is, between artist and artefact, history and story, truth and fiction. He sums up the relation in a series of paradoxes and oxymorons. The writer must 'learn to be naive'; 'I invent my theory of the uninvention of the world'; 'I am the merest vehicle, the tool, of my novel's ambition'; 'The only way 1can write poems / is by not being a poet.' The last example...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 170-171
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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