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Thirty-fourth Issue
Volume 14, No. 2
 




..where to find the mrb

The Mrb Is Available At The Following Locations:


features

Niko
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


fiction

Bats Or Swallows
Reviewed by Taylor Tower

Lives: Whole And Otherwise
Reviewed by Rosel Kim

Midway
Reviewed by Kimberly Bourgeois

Spat The Dummy
Reviewed by Ian McGillis

The Obituary
Reviewed by Anna Leventhal

Three Deaths
Reviewed by Rob Sherren



non-fiction

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



poetry

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




Lives: Whole And Otherwise
H. Nigel Thomas
$20.96
paper 160 pp.
TSAR Publications ISBN 9781894770613
fiction

Lives: Whole and Otherwise
Klu Klux Kanada

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New Document As Canadians, we pride ourselves on our national image as protectors of multiculturalism; H. Nigel Thomas’s new short story collection Lives: Whole and Otherwise offers a bleaker picture of our supposedly progressive nation. Thomas presents poignant, blunt, and hauntingly heartbreaking accounts of members of the Caribbean community in Montreal, many of whom struggle with the physically and emotionally frigid conditions of their new home.

Thomas delves deeply into the underreported lives and diverse perspectives of those who face leaving a physically and emotionally abusive partner; the impoverished reality of dedicating their lives to activist causes; and the racist biases that are subtle enough to fly under the radar of government-imposed diversity mandates, but that still continue to oppress and hinder people of colour. As a result, Canada – specifically, Montreal – reveals itself as a cruel place where women of colour are fired upon suspicion, not proof, of theft and where a white depanneur owner can get away with shooting a black man. The unfair racial bias is chillingly expressed in “My People! My People!,” framed in a newspaper article that uses a matter-of-fact tone:
“A poll conducted today in the Montreal region shows that the overwhelming majority of Mon- trealers support the jury’s decision to acquit depanneur owner Felix Lukelsky of any wrongdoing in his alleged crippling of Jonathan Com- misong when the latter allegedly stole a litre of milk from his store.”

With frequent use of present tense and the matter-of-fact description of everyday prejudices, Thomas’s prose asserts that inequality and oppression are not things of the past.

But perhaps the most devastating issue Thomas depicts is the internal rift of the community, and the unwillingness of those within the community to help others – whether it’s Percy, who succumbs to insanity because his religious sister will not accept his homosexuality (“Percy’s Illness”) or black community organizations that devolve into self-serving means to a capitalistic end (“My People! My People!”). Domestic abuse also makes a frequent appearance, creating an uncertain future for women who often appear helpless, yet unwilling to leave their violent present. Many antiracist discourses tend to gloss over the internal class differences or sexism within a community, but Thomas does not shy away from them here.

The uncertainties of relocation and migration are structurally reflected in the stories with frequent flashbacks that disorient the reader spatially and temporally – at times, a bit too much. Many of the stories do not “begin” or “end” in a narrative sense either; instead, the stories end as the characters begin to approach a resolution or as an existing conflict takes a new turn.

While many of the stories depict the negative realities of living as a racial and ethnic other, some do offer hope for a better future. There’s the story of Mary Fellows, a sex worker of colour who organizes a political rally on St. Catherine Street (“Memoirs”) to demand better working conditions for sex workers, and who uses the political and religious connections of her clientele to make a real impact. By ending the collection with “Spiders,” a story about an energized though at times hostile discussion about religion and the Bible in a Grade 8 classroom, Thomas seems to offer a glimpse of hope that the next generation may be ready to treat diversity in a more progressive manner than the past ones.

In the same year the collection was published, an interracial couple in Nova Scotia became victims of a racially motivated hate crime as they woke up to a cross burning in their front yard. Thomas’s collection is a sombre reminder of the long way Canadians have to go in creating the multicultural paradise that Canada often represents to outsiders.

Rosel Kim is a writer and blogger living in Montreal; her personal blog is What Are Years? (www.jroselkim.wordpress.com).