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322 LEITERS IN CANADA 1982 Indians who are Chinese, Chinese with acquired French accents who sound Cree, Indians enrolling in Native Studies courses to become Indian again. Especially as the novel progresses, one image melds with another in a wild game of free association (Noah, drinking, rainbows, benders, erections, pink arcs, and pink elephants, for example) and it is sometimes difficult to know whether a particularly outrageous metaphor is an authoriallapse or more tongue-in-cheek horseplay. (At moments, as with sexy Abrana's 'wonderful problem: Cullen's tone does fail him and we are left with cuteness or inanity.) Cullen flirts boldly with contemporary taboos, replacing liberal solemnity with unbuttoned breeziness on touchy subjects like ethnic minorities, skid row rehabilitation, and Native traditions . More than just entertaining, Goodnight, Sammy Wong transforms all the local institutions and landmarks of one small Alberta town into an imaginative, whimsical commentary on contemporary culture. Looking over the contributions of new authors in 1982, then, we find quantity and, for the most part, competence. Reassuring as it is to see new labourers diligently adding yet more foundations stones in this Valley of the Kings, it is also disappointing this year not to have a few outstanding new works of fiction rising high above the sands. 2 i DOUGLAS HILL Healthy, Productive, Encouraging. It was that sort of year at the least for fiction, when one considers the new work from writers already established in their careers. A solid year, and nothing to be embarrassed about, but not outstanding, few superlatives. Viewed from a distance, the fictional landscape for 1982 is flatter than in recent years; there were a few upheavals in the media, but with the dust of public relations subsided, no new monuments remain. In fact, to survey the best work in the genre, one has to extend its putative boundaries to take in memoir (Michael Ondaatje's Running in the Family) and translation oosef Skvorecky 's The Swell Season). Much has been made of the resurgence of the short story in Canada in the past two or three years. Certainly readers now seem more patient, more receptive; magazine markets have expanded; publishers are willing to try single-author volumes and antholOgies. Among several of the latter Wayne Grady's Penguin Book of Modern Canadian Short Stories (546, $7.95 paper) and John Metcalfs Making It New (Methuen, 261, $18,95, $11.95 paper) are noteworthy. Moreover, the pulse of the shorter form can be felt in Ondaatje's and Skvorecky's books, and in some of the more conventional novels as well. It's fair to say that the short story in 1982 continued to gain (or regain) momentum. Still, a year that can claim fulllength productions by Hugh Hood, Graeme Gibson, and David Helwig FICTION 323 indicates that the novel too is taking good care of itself, is hardly in danger. In Calling Home (Oberon, "49, $19.95, $9.95 paper), Merna Summers presents six prairie stories, all but one pitched so low as to be nearly inaudible. She quietly explores the conflict of city and country values, youth and age, and is unafraid of affection and understanding for her characters. Only in the last story, 'Threshing Time: does she reveal a sense of danger, evil, beneath the slow, calm surfaces; it suddenly doubles her strength. George McWhirter's Coming to Grips with Lucy (Oberon, "40, $17ยท95, $8.95 paper) is more energetic. His ten stories, placed in British Columbia, Spain, and chiefly Ireland, have a rough-hewn power; they bring odd, even misfit characters centre-stage, and demonstrate a knack for voices. They're competent but small. Though most drive home a moral quite deliberately, the meanings don't expand of their own. We're given glimpses of depth in these stories, not the thing itself. In The Birth Control King ofthe Upper Volta (ECW Press, 148, $8.95 paper), his sixth collection, Leon Rooke offers two long stories and six brief ones. Each is experimental to the extent that form is tailored to character and situation; the shape of the narratives forces mood and tone at a reader as bluntly as the unusual lives and confrontations Rooke subjects...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 322-332
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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