The Governor of Prince Edward Island

Description

106 pages
$8.95
ISBN 0-919001-31-9

Author

Publisher

Year

1986

Contributor

Reviewed by Robert Seiler

Robert Seiler was Assistant Professor of General Studies at the University of Calgary.

Review

When they are on the job, storytellers today are supposed to report on the human condition with the detachment of a scientist and the sensitivity of an artist. The wonder is that they produce an account at all, given this ambiguous job description, as well as the current preoccupation with conveying the prosaic quality of contemporary life. As luck would have it,now and then writers like Rick Bowers succeed in beguiling readers with a creditable report.

Bowers, 31, tells us in a news release circulated by Pottersfield Press that he grew up on various air force bases in Canada and Europe, as well as on his grandfather’s farm at Roxbury, P.E.I., before escaping to seek his fortune, first as a federal civil servant and then as a university professor. In this book Bowers’ first he returns in his imagination to P.E.I. for the purpose of exploring the land of his youth.

The ten stories which comprise this collection are unusual in terms of their form and content. For one thing, Bowers eschews the stereotypical backwoods dramas, the quaint tales of larger-than-life men who try to tame nature. For another, he eschews the straightforward narrative with its recognizable beginning, middle, and end. Instead, he employs a loose, fractured narrative structure which enables him to mix his observations and inventions in a striking way. Consequently, we get the impression that these narratives “shape” themselves.

Bowers speaks with a voice which is detached and ironic but which verges on the lyrical. Every page bears witness to his sensitivity to the language of the Islanders. What connects these stories aside from a remarkable sense of place and time is an emotional resonance. The action, however, rarely adds up to anything more than a sketch of a character in an unusual situation. The message — rural life in P.E.I. is not as simple or as idyllic as people elsewhere commonly suppose — is hardly startling. Nevertheless, there are a few laughs in this collection of portraits, and a few poignant insights.

Citation

Bowers, Rick, “The Governor of Prince Edward Island,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 24, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/34985.