Accordian Lessons


79 pages
ISBN 0-88978-122-2






Reviewed by Ross Willmot

Ross Willmot is Executive Director of the Ontario Association for
Continuing Education.


Seemingly a tour de force as the winner of the 4th International 3-Day Novel-Writing Contest, this prose poem should survive as definitive Canadian literature. The author masterfully uses the taking of an accordion course by the son of an immigrant Ukrainian to illustrate the different views and life styles of the Old World and the New in our cultural mosaic. The narrator starts his stream-of-consciousness history as a university professor playing traditional Ukrainian folk songs with his accordion in peripheral skid-row pubs which are in competition with Canadian pubs featuring topless waitresses and go-go girls. He cohabits with one of his students, who becomes so entranced by her own accordion lessons that she has an accordion tattooed on the inside of her thigh. The narrator loses his university post when authorities charge him with lack of dedication in spending so much time with the accordion. The couple eventually marry, but the arrival of a son interferes with the wife’s own advancing accordion-playing career, in which she mixes Ukrainian with rock music. The narrator intends to pass on his accordion to his son just as he inherited it from his father. This is no hurried look into a family history, but a well-crafted visualization of the problems and possibilities of an ethnic group living in an environment different from and much more complex than their own.


Serwylo, Ray, “Accordian Lessons,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 19, 2024,