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The Gazette from Montreal, Quebec, Canada • Page 103
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The Gazette from Montreal, Quebec, Canada • Page 103

The Gazettei
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Issue Date:
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Montreal, Saturday, August 1, 1987 J-9 Midsummer doldrums are relieved with engaging, artful activity book 4 i By JANICE KENNEDY Special to The Gazette JrzYt rut Finally, a warning note: a book that disappoints because at first it seems to promise so much is Canadian artist Harold Town's Murphy the Wonder Dog (Mosaic, 36 pp, This is the kind of book an adult picks up eagerly as the perfect choice for a child's gift, whether the youngster is 5 or 15. The book is perfect because it is a) an affordable collection of Harold Town's work; b) the ideal introduction for a child to one of this country renowned artists; c) a non-narrative batch of whimsical scenes for any age, pages that can be browsed through time and again. Alas, the work is boring, another doomed marriage of an overpriced name and the fallacious notion that anyone can produce a kids' book. Writing in the Canadian Encyclopedia, Robert Fulford refers to Town's "consistent visual energy evident in this static collection. Toronto's artistic enfant terrible of the 1950s seems worn out, and yet determined to amuse.

His whimsy, with a capital lands on you with a resounding thud. Murphy the Wonder Dog is perfect, all right for obsessive Harold Town fans. But if you give it to a youngster at loose ends, you might get five peaceful minutes out of it before he's back complaining again of summertime boredom. Five minutes, if you're lucky. 1 drtflni 1 liaitiiiKmiiiliiriHiii 1 1 1 "''11 -n iiinn rl i Hi ytlji.

THE CHILDREN'S CORNER projects in the OWL book, children exploring the great outdoors may well encounter the neighborhood grass snake. If they express any interest in the creature or its more exotic relatives, they should enjoy That Snake in the Grass, by photographer and nature writer Lilo Hess (Scribner's, 48 pp, Recommended for ages 8 to 11, the book is loaded with black-and-white photographs and tells you everything you could want to know and then some about the intriguing reptiles. Even more exotic for children on the nature trail younger children, in this case, aged 5 to 9 is Jungles in the Nature Hide Seek series (Random House of Canada, 24 pp, $12.95) by John Norris Wood and Kevin Dean. Sturdy pages, cleverly designed and cut out, illustrate nature's methods of camouflage in the jungle. Back on more familiar ground and in the field of fiction is Our Puppy's Holiday (Stoddart, 32 pp, the ideal choice for younger children observing the family pet's first taste of fun and freedom on a countryside vacation.

Charming full-color illustrations and story are by British artistauthor Ruth Brown. Intermediate readers (8 to 12) on the lookout for absorbing fiction might want to pick up a copy of Monica Hughes's summer adventure, Log Jam (Irwin, 169 pp, The prolific Alberta writer, who has twice won the Canada Council Prize for Children's Literature, returns to the themes have carried much of her writing: wilderness survival and young people's troubled quest for identity. A contemporary tale set in the foothills of the Rockies, Log Jam is at once a gripping physical adventure and a touching spiritual one. hy aren't there more editors like those at OWL Magazine? The OWL people seem to understand things like the midsummer curse that period, just about now, when parents start pulling their hair out. With another month to go before school starts, youngsters have run out of things to do and turn to their parents for inspiration thrusting bewildered adults into the role of creative camp counsellor, without any of the camp counsellor's training.

If there were ever a time for books to spell relief, good books that could really occupy a child for a good while and, not incidentally, broaden his horizons a little midsummer is it. Serendipity comes in the form of a thoroughly engaging activity book from OWL's creators, who are also the producers of the enormously successful OWLTV series. Targeted for youngsters 7 and up is Summer Fun (Greey de Pencier, 128 pp, A cheery, full-color book crammed with attractive illustrations and beautiful photographs, Summer Fun offers youngsters generous measures of that valuable commodity. There are science experiments and nature hikes, superplane construction and innovative ways to keep cool (like a homemade water slide and parents should be forewarned a sponge war). It has recipes for hot-weather treats, fascinating tidbits of nature lore and good fiction, including a science-fiction story by Monica Hughes.

Caveat There are also jokes, most of them silly enough to drive an adult at least halfway up the wall. do you call a cow eating grass?" "A lawn mooer." "How did the firefly feel when it ran into a fan?" Children will love Summer Fun and so will their parents. All of its activities have been tested for safety, and very few require any parental intervention. Inspired by some of the nature Left to right: publisher Fortner Anderson, writer Ian Ferrier, artist Philip Mackenzie. lcfiroBiBC computer scree BEST-SELLERS Numbers in parentheses represent standing on the national hardcover best-seller list last week and number of weeks on the list in Canada.

novI Although the project just got under way, Anderson is disappointed that no one has responded. "In California, the technique is prevalent, and people are open to that: instant modes for telecommunications and feedback. There was a project in January in San Francisco, a work that was literary in nature. It created a great amount of communication." The only similar project in Canada is the electronic literary magazine Swift Current, which was begun in September 1984 by two poetry-writing academics, Frank Davey and Fred Waugh. The magazine is like an electronic news wire, except that the items that "move" on it are poems, short stories and essays written by the two editors, the approximately 40 contributing editors and the several hundred subscribers who pay $25 annually for access.

Kill off Subscribers can take what interests them from the magazine, and kill off what doesn't. The magazine is also aimed at user-friendly readers. "A lot of what appears (on Swift Current) is work in progress, to get feedback on," said Diane Martin, an editor of Toronto's Coach House Press, which is affiliated with the magazine. At this point, the people most interested in The Heart of the Ma chine are the systems operators for the computer networks, some of whom have put forward all kinds of ideas for rewriting the novel. But the trio are hoping for the day when readers are not only cheering or booing the characters like the audience of a Victorian melodrama via electronic messages to Anderson, but "porting" the remaining 30-odd instalments off the big networks like Compuserve "on to smaller ones, without any help from us." PUPPY'S HOLIDAY The list of this week's French-language best-sellers in Quebec gives the title, author, publisher and whether the book is fiction If) or non-fiction (n).

1. L'amour au temps du cholera, Gabriel Garcia-Mar-quez (Grasset) (f) 2. Ces femmes qui aiment trop, Robin Norwood (Stanke) (n) 3. Les amours blesses, Jeanne Bourin (Table Ronde) (f) 4. Les filles de Caleb, tome II: le cri de I'oie blanche, Ar- lette Cousture (Quebec-Amerique) (f) 5.

L'amour entre les lignes, Judith Michael (Laffont) (f) 6. Ouragan, James Clavell (Stock) (0 7. Texas, James-Michener (Seuil) (f) 8. Si c'etait demain, Sidney Sheldon (Stock) (f) 9. Monsieur Butterfly, Howard Buten (Seuil) (f) 10.

Le bonheur a San Minia-to, Jean D'Ormesson (Editions Lattes) (f) ULYSSES THE TRAVEL BOOKSTORE 560 President Kennedy, McGill 289-0993 Travel Guides, Maps, Videos Dictionaries, Money belts IV rv "tir. NON-FICTION 1. Ottawa Unbuttoned, Dave Mcintosh (Stoddart) (2) (13) 2. Hammer, Armand Hammer With Neil Lyndon (General) (3) (9) 3. More Advice From the Back Doctor, Hamilton Hall (McClelland and Stewart) (1) (16) 4.

Beverly, Beverly Sills and Lawrence Linderman (Bantam) (5) (7) 5. Living Health, Harvey and Marilyn Diamond (Warner) (4) (8) 6. Glory Oaya: The Bruce Springsteen Story, David Marsh (Random House) (10) (2) 7. The Different Drum, M. Scott Peck (General) (6) (7) 8.

Uneasy Lies the Head, Walter Stewart (Collins) (8) (10) 9. Close Pursuit, Carsten Stroud (Penguin) (7) (19) 1 0. The of the Hurricane, Art McNeil (Stoddart) (-)(12) August 16th posters, records, pictures, etc. excluded 12:00 noon By HEATHER HILL Gazette Books Editor The man who brought you the Montreal poetry hotline now presents Canada's first electronic novel. The Heart of the Machine is glowing on computer screens near you, and if you're really interested, you can even become one of the characters in the tale.

The Heart of the Machine is the title of an "interactive serial novel" written, illustrated and published so to speak by three Montrealers. Fortner Anderson, the city's soft-spoken software impresario, launched the first chapter June 1, and every two weeks, in the fashion of a Charles Dickens novel, a fresh instalment goes humming out over the telephone wires to North America's vast computer grid. Data banks It is fed into the data banks of six computer information services, including Compuserve (based in Columbus, Ohio), The Well (The Whole Earth Lectronic Link, in San Francisco) and Swift Current (York University in Toronto). In Montreal, it is available through DESSIE, a computer bulletin board open after 5 p.m. at 842-1094, and PEPS, a new electronic publisher and bulletin board (at 739-3446).

The owner of a personal computer would dial one of these information services and "log on." The novel is listed in the opening "menu." The potential audience for the novel computer owners who use any of the six services is in the hundreds of thousands. Anderson estimates the present readership at 300, at the outside. About 100 of those people live in Montreal. "They're computer buffs," said Anderson. "You have to have a grasp of computers.

That means a lot of corporate people, corporate men that, and young kids who use (computers) as an underground form of communication. Anderson has already made a name for himself as the founder of "Dial-a-Poem," a 24-hour-a-day taped poem read by its author and changed daily by Anderson. Time and money Through "Dial-a-Poem" which was shut down just this week after 21 months of operation because of the time and money it demanded Anderson got addicted to McLuhan-esque mass communication; he was already hooked on computers (he is an occasional technical writer for computer firms) and literature (which he has published in a small way, mostly poetry, for the past four years through his Dromos Editions). Ergo, a novel by computer. "We're doing it for the heck of it, be cause it's never been done before," said Anderson.

"The National Library of Canada has recognized it as the first book in this form." With reservations, it would seem: "When I described it in its various facets they broke into nervous laughter." (Notwithstanding, The Heart of the Machine was certified with an International Standard Book Number (ISBN).) None of the three collaborators Anderson as publisher, writer Ian Ferrier and illustrator Philip Mackenzie is making any money from The Heart of the Machine. While subscribers pay $4 to $6 an hour to "access" the data banks of a network like Compuserve, it's impossible for a tiny enterprise like Dromos to get a share of the subscription fees. The chapters that have appeared thus far are titled "Flossman Becomes an Atheist," "The Dragon in Mary Beth" and "Freezing the Insane." It all begins provocatively enough: "On the Monday of the week of the incident that would lead Dr. Nathan Flossman to a Nobel prize, Roscoe van der Lehmann, the strongest resident of ward, hijacked one of the smaller orderlies in the TV room. "Flossman was an unlikely candidate for the Nobel.

In the darkness of his bedroom in Cote St. Luc he was in the midst of a pre-doomed attempt to sexually excite the lady he married, whose name was Vera, when the night resident phoned to say that Roscoe had broken a plant pot and was threatening to use a piece of it to separate the orderly's head from the orderly's Compelling rhythm Flossman is a sort of Everyman, a psychiatrist seeking reason in the modern world. The prose is unpolished, the vocabulary functional, but there is a compelling rhythm to The Heart of the Machine, a veneer of black humor and a whiff of realism to the characters. The book is written on a Macintosh computer using a word-processing program that allows both text and graphics to be included in a single document. Each chapter is accompanied by a simple illustration that would appeal more to aficionados of computers than of art.

Only owners of an Apple Macintosh computer can read the novel in its illustrated format; the text alone is accessible to all computers. "For this particular experiment, the hardware fascinates me as much as the words," said Anderson, a 31-year-old U.S. native who moved to Montreal 10 years ago. "It's a constantly changing field so you have to stay on top of things." Anderson, who counts among his assorted trades that of movie set carpenter, won an award for a Dromos book titled Schizotexte, a literary anthology he designed and printed by computer. A "Desktop Publisher of the Year" prize, sponsored by the American computer magazine Mactser(circulation brought Anderson S100 worth of Apple software and "letters from Saudi Arabia and places like that.

Big real-estate conglomerates in the States (subscribing to MacUser) wanted my small, weird book of poetry." Ongoing story A feature of the novel is its invitation to readers "to influence the ongoing story with their comments, queries and suggestions." Dromos is also soliciting "fictional or autobiographical character sketches. The three top participants in this category will become characters in future episodes." FICTION 1. Misery, Stephen King (Viking) (1)0 0) 2. Rage, Wilbur Smith (Stoddart) (2) (10) 3. Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, Douglas Adams (Stoddart) (4) (5) 4.

The Timothy Files, Lawrence Sanders (General) (3) (8) 5. The Heunted Mesa, Louis L'Amour (Bantam) (6) (1 0) 6. Fine Things, Danielle Steel (Delacorte) (5) (17) 7. Destiny, Sally Beauman (Bantam) (7) (18) 8. Satisfaction, Rae Lawrence (General) (9) (4) 9.

The Radiant Way, Margaret Drabble (GibsonMcClelland and Stewart) (8) (16) 10. Patriot Games, Tom Clancy (Putnam's) (-) (-) THE NEW GiHL FRIEND by Ruth Rendell Rsg.Prica $18.95 THERATTlS-nAT bv Janwillen Van Weterina ,5 Reg. Price $21 .95 Our Price and Bunches More! Sat. 8, Sun. MAGNUS BOOKS 4932-B Sherbf ooke) Street W.

Otiftt eat ei CUi emeat) 484-6323 vendome REMAINDERS FOR PEOPLE WHO READ A USED BOOKS English, French other languages ANNIVERSARY SALE 50 1OA Until All books, postcards, magazines, New book BIBLIOMANIA BOOKSHOPPE open 7 day. litfiC Park Av irnm vm 8493175 Bus 80 to 129 THE RUSSIAN MICHAEL IGNATIEFF Written as a series of portrait sketches. Tftr Russian Ahum recreates the lost society of a changing land in the years surrounding the Russian Revolution. From the fairy-tale palaces of White Russia to a humble cottage in Quebec, renowned author Michael Ignatieff recreates the saga of his grandparents' lives. S24.95 A Viking Book from Penguin Books Canada.

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