25 November 2013

Critic Spoils Christmas (but not Christmas sales)

Snow arrived this past weekend, bringing visions of sugar plums and reminding me of a stern, schoolmarmish rebuke uncovered in researching Marika Robert's A Stranger and Afraid (subject of Thursday's post). Published in the 25 December 1964 edition of the Globe & Mail, it came as part of an "end-of-year summary" of books. The author was Joan Walker – that's her above – winner of the 1954 Stephen Leacock Medal for Pardon My Parka.

Mrs Walker covers eight books, lauding all but one:
I was disappointed in Marika Robert's first novel, A Stranger and Afraid, because here is a talented writer who has wasted a clean, perceptive narrative on a grubby little plot obviously contrived to attract the prurient. The book could have been a disconcertingly vivid examination of the integration of a certain type of sophisticated and irresponsible European immigrant into the democratic way of life of a country chosen, not for any specific reason, but simply because of expediency. Instead it read like a half-heard lewd joke whispered by a schoolgirl.
As a war bride, European immigrant Joan Walker had a specific reason.

The reviewer fairly races through the other three Canadian books in her round-up, beginning with Sheila Burnford's The Fields of Noon  praised for its "bubbling sense of vitality" – before declaring 1964 "a vintage year in Canadian humour [sic]".

I had no idea.

Mrs Walker singles out two humour titles, neither of which I've read: Norman Ward's The Fully Processed Cheese and The Great Canadian Lover by "newcomer to the world of wit" Mervyn J. Huston.

"Both books were a collection of brisk essays on a number of subjects," writes the critic, "all humorous, some in the rolling-in-the-aisles category."

Each to his own, I suppose. Had I read Mrs Walker's column that Christmas Day, I'd have been much more interested in the whispered lewd joke.

Related post:


  1. Pardon My Parka...

    Great title. Great Covers.

    If I had to pick the better of the two, it would definitely be the first.

    1. I much prefer the second, though it does have me wondering Joan Walker was blonde or brunette?

      And what of those libidinous moose?