Missing Children


121 pages
ISBN 0-7710-2425-8
DDC C811'.54




Reviewed by Beryl Baigent

Beryl Baigent is a poet; her published collections include Absorbing the
Dark, Hiraeth: In Search of Celtic Origins, Triptych: Virgins, Victims,
Votives, and Mystic Animals.


Lynn Crosbie’s previous works include Paul’s Case (a novel about
murderer Paul Bernardo), Dorothy L’Amour (a novel about Playboy
“Playmate” Dorothy Stratten), and Queen Rat: New and Selected Poems.
Without a doubt, she can write. Her ability to synthesize genres,
energize the narrative, and coerce readers into continuing to read her
work despite the subject matter is a talent worthy of political speech

Missing Children reads like a modern novel and relies on plot and
dialogue as well as cliffhanger endings. The poems shadow an epigram
that begins the book. “A guy somewhere in M— had been arrested,
except they didn’t quite know what to charge him with. For years
he’d been collecting newspaper clippings about missing children and
unsolved murders—then on the child’s birthday or the anniversary of
the murder, he would call the family of the victim and pretend to have
vital information on the case or to know the child’s whereabouts.”
This “guy” becomes the protagonist of the collection.

The first poem introduces “a crush of orange and black,” colours
that recur throughout the text. “Two black pintos, rearing against an
orange sky,” describe illicit sex between the protagonist and
“Wendy,” a married mother of four. Black and orange markers are used
to draw the “pumpkin patch” that “the city wants to tear up and
rezone.” (Maybe the missing children are buried here?) Chintz curtains
are “saffron and black,” and “Sun beats on her hair … and it is
ten shades of black.” The final section concludes when he trades
“for a ’57 Tri-Chevy Nomad, gloss black with orange interior.”

Crosbie gives her protagonist a personality that includes an abusive
upbringing, buying baby dolls at Wal-Mart for Wendy’s daughter, loving
his mange-ridden dog, working for Channel 4 (the family station), being
a “Mother” to Wendy, and even catching “cockroaches and set[ting]
them free.”

Is Missing Children about glorifying brutality and deviance? I don’t
think so. But it might be an unconscious attempt to liberalize justice
and perhaps Crosbie can be accused of being a bleeding-heart liberal who
feels more for the perpetrator than the victim. Or maybe it is merely
new subject matter for a writer who is constantly striving to attain
originality in her work.



Crosbie, Lynn., “Missing Children,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 23, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/15299.