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Thirty-fourth Issue
Volume 14, No. 2

..where to find the mrb

The Mrb Is Available At The Following Locations:


By Eric Boodman

The Anatomy Of Clay
By Abby Paige

They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children / Mobilizing The Will To Intervene: Leadership To Prevent Mass Atrocities
By Aparna Sanyal


Bats Or Swallows
Reviewed by Taylor Tower

Lives: Whole And Otherwise
Reviewed by Rosel Kim

Reviewed by Kimberly Bourgeois

Spat The Dummy
Reviewed by Ian McGillis

The Obituary
Reviewed by Anna Leventhal

Three Deaths
Reviewed by Rob Sherren


Bad Animals: A Father’s Accidental Education In Autism
Reviewed by Leila Marshy

Making Waves: The Continuing Portuguese Adventure
Reviewed by Joni Dufour

The Republic Of Therapy
Reviewed by Sarah Fletcher

Writing In The Time Of Nationalism: From Two Solitudes To Blue Metropolis
Reviewed by Gregory J. Reid

You Could Lose An Eye: My First 80 Years In Montreal
Reviewed by Joel Yanofsky

non-fiction at a glance

Eeyou Istchee: Land Of The Cree/terre Des Cris
Reviewed by Carol Katz

The Origin Of A Person
Reviewed by Prosenjit Dey Chaudhury


Blood Is Blood
Reviewed by Bert Almon

Hard Feelings
Reviewed by Bert Almon

Poets And Killers
Reviewed by Bert Almon

Song Of The Taxidermist
Reviewed by Bert Almon

The Collected Books Of Artie Gold
Reviewed by Bert Almon

The Truth Of Houses
Reviewed by Bert Almon

Where We Might Have Been
Reviewed by Bert Almon

the mile end café

The October Crisis, 1970 An Insider’s View/trudeau's Darkest Hour, War Measures In Time Of Peace, October 1970
Reviewed by Mélanie Grondin

the mrb cartoon

Image By Jean-philippe Marcotte

young readers

Captured: The Divided Realms Series, Book 1
Reviewed by Andrea Belcham

Into The Mist: The Story Of The Empress Of Ireland
Reviewed by Andrea Belcham

Milo: Sticky Notes And Brain Freeze
Reviewed by Andrea Belcham

Noni Says No
Reviewed by Andrea Belcham

Raffi’s New Friend
Reviewed by Andrea Belcham

Scaredy Squirrel Has A Birthday Party
Reviewed by Andrea Belcham

Today, Maybe
Reviewed by Andrea Belcham

Without You
Reviewed by Andrea Belcham

David Homel
paper 320 pp.
Cormorant Books ISBN 9781897151884


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New Document “Do not create anything,” famously wrote Bob Dylan in his poem “Advice for Geraldine on her Miscellaneous Birthday”: “it will be misinterpreted. / it will not change. / it will follow you the rest of your life.”

Dylan fortunately ignored his own demons and advice, and went on to write rather prolifically. Ben Allen, the hero of David Homel’s latest novel, Midway, might very well do the same.

Ben is a married, middle-aged Montreal literature teacher who has written a semi-fictional, historical essay on dromomania, a condition he imagines affected men in nineteenth-century France, causing them to abandon the comforts of domesticity and wander off into foreign lands.

Upon learning that his essay has won a prize, Ben echoes Dylan’s apprehension: “Every piece of writing is an ungrateful monster. Instead of being happy just to exist, it demands more and more of the creator’s being. Never write anything if you can help it.”

Ben’s caginess is validated when his essay attracts the attention of Carla, a seductive young artist/communications officer, who threatens to rouse his own latent version of dromomania. His sense of foreboding only escalates when, in an interview, Carla asks about his future literary plans. Ben answers: “You know what Saul Bellow said – books are our future self-portraits. That could be true for essays too. In that case, maybe I should be afraid.”

Yet Ben’s budding artistic inclinations prove harder and harder to repress. He romanticizes the dark and dangerous side of creativity, and even contemplates the suicide note as a literary genre, wondering how he could get a hold of 100 samples for research.

Soon, the reader begins to sense that art is but a sexy metaphor for another frisky business: infidelity. Both activities involve risking every- thing to wander off into an uncertain future, and both, Ben supposes, can involve hurting those closest to you. “When he met Laura, she was an artist, or at least a woman with artistic inclinations. But when she explained she was going into art therapy, he felt betrayed,” recalls Ben of the first time he considered leaving his wife.
Art means self-expression, even to the point of hurting people, not helping them ... Besides, he wanted to sleep with an artist – that sounded sexy and free – not an art therapist, with the scent of musty Puritanism that surrounded the therapeutic professions.

Yet Ben is also a family man with a some- what sensitive disposition. His urge to wander conflicts with his longing to connect more deeply with his father, son, and wife. Through Ben, Homel explores a realm more commonly depicted by female writers: the inner sphere of house and home. Studying close interpersonal relationships from a dis- tinctly male perspective, he offers poignant portraits of fatherhood, such as when Ben watches over his sleeping infant son: “He stood over his bed and listened to Tony breathe, convinced that by just being in the room, he was shielding him from death.”

Also touching is Ben’s epiphany that the person he actually most craves an adventure with is Laura. At first, Ben doesn’t see how this could work. “The very words sounded absurd. You cannot have an affair with your wife.” But, as the story progresses, the idea takes root, leaving the reader wondering: if Ben chooses Laura over Carla, is he opting for art therapy over art, or – more romantically – is he about to make art of his marriage?

Whatever the case, one senses that his essay, as sometimes with art in general, may be more of a past self-portrait than a future one. By the time Ben’s – and perhaps Bob’s – demons were committed to the page, some may already have had one foot in the grave.

Kimberly Bourgeois is a Montreal writer and performer whose album of songs and spoken-word was released on March 28, 2011: kimberlyandthedreamtime