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Volume 91, Issue 34
Wednesday, October 29, 1997
Harper Collins$28.00/290 pages
Marilyn Bowering ranks among the foremost of modern poets, but when she turns her hand to novel writing, it's like starting all over again she is expected to prove herself.
Visible Worlds is Bowering's second novel. Her first, To All Appearances A Lady, was not kindly received by many of its reviewers, but that was to be expected, as many reviewers are overly-harsh on first novels. To All Appearances A Lady was not a great novel. It was not a bad novel either, it was just a good novel and worth reading.
That's what Visible Worlds is, too. A good novel worth reading very good. It's a little tighter than her first attempt, but those experiences are behind her and it shows in her writing. This book will not change the face of Canadian fiction only because a single book has never done that in Canada. It will, however, entertain you if you read it especially if you're a fan of Canadian fiction and looking for something a little different than the solemn realism that has permeated our literature for the past decade.
Not to imply this is a novel full of hokey dragons, castles and laser guns, by all means no. It contains the emotional temperature and quiet drama we expect from the best writers, but it dares to dip into the magical and the other-worldly in a way that many Canadian writers won't (or can't) touch with a 10-foot pole (unless they're writing books filled with hokey dragons, castles and laser guns). What she accomplishes is the feeling that real magic exists in real life and we do not need escapism in order to feel it. This a believable story with human characters the reader will care about. It is also a novel of great scope and imagination so well-crafted, the reader will squint to see the writer at work behind it. It was almost as if the words appeared on the page themselves in perfect order, which has always been a feature of her poetry.
Hopefully Bowering's success at novel writing won't hamper her poetry all together. What a loss that would be!
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