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Review

Norman Levine's <br><i>I Don't Want to Know Anyone Too Well</i>

Norman Levine's
I Don't Want to Know Anyone Too Well

Reviewed by David O'Meara

His enthusiasts know the biography. Born to an Orthodox Jewish family in Minsk, Poland, in 1923, Levine was raised in Ottawa's district of Lower Town—occupied then by mostly French and Irish Catholics—before being sent to England as a pilot with the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War. Returning to Canada, he attended McGill University and published two poetry collections before his first novel, The Angled Road (1952) and a memoir, Canada Made Me in 1958 (“My writing begins with that book,” Levine would write). For some critics, this book is considered the main reason for Levine’s neglect in Canadian letters. Written as a three-month journey across the country, Levine’s recollections and portraits are less than flattering, depicting a gritty, desolate, working-class panorama of mid-century Canada. He writes: “No one is really a stranger in Canada if he was brought up in a small town. They remain so much the same across the country: a vast repetition, not only of the Main Street, the side-streets, the railway track, the river; but the same dullness and boredom."

Hermione Hoby’s <br><i>Neon in Daylight</i>

Hermione Hoby’s
Neon in Daylight

Reviewed by Halley Parrey

Hermione Hoby’s aptly named debut novel Neon in Daylight examines the roles we assign ourselves to play and how our performances are received or simply ignored. Under Hoby’s purview, we do not fare much better at communicating than neon signs. We perform—we flare, we fizzle out—hoping to illuminate the darkness, which we achieve slightly, clumsily, if at all.