Monday, November 05, 2007

The Full Telegram Review

Thanks to Russell Wangersky for sending the electronic copy of yesterday's Telegram review of boYs, found below:

Winter shows flair for form

Sullivan, Joan

The two dozen short stories in "Boys" aptly display Kathleen Winter's
with the form. She enters and exits on tantalizing notes, catches
people on
intriguing arcs of crisis, and can nail a character or define a scene
in a

"Boys" (which could as easily be called "Girls," but, what the heck,
Winter's volume and she can call it what she wants) unfolds in
voices, with some related works delivered from a singular throughline
perspective, and many others as stand-alone narratives from different
a few men, and even the first person.

Whatever the point of view, Winter is always there, with her own
honed and final choice of word and tone. She knows what she's doing,
reading these stories is a real pleasure, with lots of beautiful lines
savour and a couple of plot turns that made me laugh out loud.

The first batch of stories focuses on Marianne, born in England but
transplanted to Newfoundland by an (overly) adventurous father. She
for inclusion but, among many other things, her school uniform is not
right. In despair, she writes her grandmother in Bill Quay. The

"'Dear Maggie, don't put all your stock in having that uniform because
number one, you aren't going to get it. If your mother doesn't like
something that's it. She put salt in my tea not once but twice. I never
anything to your father because he's stuck with her now but that's the
your mother is. Number two, your tartan might not be like the other
tartans but with tartan you are never the only one wearing it. There is
always a clan you belong to. If you keep your eyes peeled you will see
rest of your clan. You will know each other even without the tartan.
looking all your life. Don't tell about the salt whatever you do.'

I told about the salt."

But Marianne also keeps her peepers on alert for her fellow clan
and her findings are one connection in the following run of stories.

Then the narrator shifts, but always carries Winter's whetted

"This is one of those suppers when a surface crack in the household can
into a structural one."

"No matter whom she discussed it seemed to take her a maximum of thirty
seconds to reduce them to a rubble of tragic events and twisted

"Even Lena knows the magical star paths of Bach."

It is a consistent precision, with intricate but never-dropped threads
foray into imperiled family pets, homeless men in Bowring Park,
berrypicking, violin-making, and lonely old women trying to remember
childhood games. Of that character, Winter writes: "She sat with a
in her lap for a long time." It is a tender, perfect image. A few
stories falter, but very few. The rest are really gorgeous.

My only real complaint is the rather disturbing cover: it is amiably
coloured but rather sadistically askew.

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