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?

  2. Is PLEASE photo from the dustjacket? Oh please tell me that it isn't, and is in fact taken before 1949... We are looking for an image of her for our CEWW entry, and have only an excessively grainy image from the August 1938 Daily Herald (London).

    1. Damn. I've lost track of the source for that image. I doubt it comes from the jacket, only because I've never seen a physical copy. It certainly looks like it could've been taken before 1949. But where did I get it?