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What it Takes to be Human

Marilyn Bowering’s haunting novel What It Takes to Be Human, is set largely in an asylum for the criminally insane in British Columbia in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

Sandy Grey’s version of reality may not match those in the world within a world in which he finds himself, but he does know what it is ‘to be human’—unlike those, beginning with his parents, who have treated him cruelly. The world outside is disintegrating in war, and within the confines of the asylum, the same war with its automatic hatreds and racism continue to play out.

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Visible Worlds

Bowering Creates a Wonderful Three-ring Circus Of A Story At the end of a series of quotations on the frontispiece of Visible Worlds, comes this from Oscar Wilde: “It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.” The mystery of poet and […]

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Cat’s Pilgrimmage

Fourteen-year-old Cathreen has a crucial choice: follow the path that has taken her to a lake at a deserted scout camp where a girl is bullied and left to drown; or retreat to the dull existence she led with her mother in a small Vancouver Island town. But long before Cathreen, there is the story […]

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To All Appearances a Lady

Canada’s size makes it all but invisible, for how can we focus on something so large? Brian Moore and Neil Bissoondath have shone on its cities an outsider’s torch-beam. Margaret Atwood, Mordecai Richler, Robertston Davies and Alice Munro have each with their vision and variety, projected a pattern of culture and history crossed with the […]

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