The Race and Other Stories


137 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 2-7603-4342-1




Edited by Lorraine McMullen
Reviewed by Sparling Mills

Sparling Mills was a freelance reviewer living in Herring Cove, N.S.


In Lorraine McMullen’s excellent introduction to Sinclair Ross’s The Race and Other Stories, she informs us that Ross, at one time, “had in mind a group of short stories having to do with the same boy.” “A Day With Pegasus” presents this boy when he is eight years old. The story begins with his mother telling him about the colt that was born during the night: “Two white stockings and a star.” Such a delightful description prepares us for the flight of imagination that follows.

“The Race,” a chapter from the novel Whir of Gold, stands on its own here as a short story. It “continues the adventures of what could be considered the same young boy.” Again it involves us in his love for a horse. This time its name is Isabel, and she does a lot of prancing and talking; she even wins one hundred dollars for her young master. The jaunty red, white, and navy picture on the cover of the book is of this boy and his horse. A band plays in the background — appropriate because of the story’s fun and humour.

Yet there is another side to boyhood. In “The Flowers That Killed Him” a thirteen-year-old boy is a murderer. The last of the nine stories, it leaves us with a feeling of horror.

Horror, perhaps to a lesser degree yet still disturbing, permeates the two stories about prairie farm-wives. In “No Other Way,” Hatty Glenn begins “on her knees” hacking “with feverish haste at the frost-blackened turnip tops.” The story ends with her “clutching a broom and swooping into the garden” after the cows to keep them from trampling the turnips. In “Nell,” the same type of paralyzing worry flourishes, except this time it is about Nell’s husband’s need for ketchup. In spite of being written decades ago, these stories of enslavement are socially relevant today — and not just on the farm.

In closing, one of the two Army stories should be mentioned. “Barrack Room Fiddle Tune” tells of a young recruit who would play his fiddle when he was sad. The story relates how his barrack-mates coped with “the infernal scrape and saw.”

As in his other stories, Ross demonstrates his skill and sensitivity in delineating relationships.


Ross, Sinclair, “The Race and Other Stories,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024,