Volume 92, Issue 37

Tuesday, November 10, 1998

upholding integrity


Beloved book scandals


Dead of Winter Meetings with Canadian Eccentrics

Bill Richardson

Knopf Canada

$17.95/336 pgs

Cross-dressers, artists, inventors and hermits are just a few of the characters included in Scorned & Beloved, a strange book which fits into three genres: humour, biography and Canadian history.

Each of the 17 chapters can be considered a patch in a quilt and every patch contains a biography of an odd Canadian personality, living or dead. The patches are sewn together by the author, Bill Richardson, in a stream-of-consciousness style.

At the beginning of each chapter, a topic is humourously introduced and then intertwined with a biographical sketch, creating an easy flow within the chapters. Many times it appears as if the introduction is not leading anywhere, but eventually the individual is introduced and a correlation, no matter how thin, can be found between the two.

Though many of the soliloquies are strange, a lot of them are much more interesting than the introduced characters. To label the people documented in Scorned & Beloved "eccentric" is an exaggeration. True, many of them are oddballs – for instance the teacher who liked to pretend he was Robin Hood or the Bog Man who lived under a hill of manure.

But a true eccentric is a person in the same ranks of weirdness as Michael Jackson or Howard Hughes. Unfortunately, none of the people in this book measure up to that high standard of oddness. In fact, many of the people in this book would not even measure up to the standard of oddness needed to be eligible as a guest on The Jerry Springer Show.

No matter how scandalous the people are in Scorned & Beloved, Bill Richardson's writing is worth attention. His use of language is creative, colourful and humourous. When discussing the individuals he either researched or interviewed, he writes with coffee-talk ease. One does not so much read this book as listen to it, as Richardson's voice is prevalent in every inch of the text.

It is not so much the patches of stories but the seams in between which make this written quilt worth cosying up to.


To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazette.entertainment@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998