Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

White Gloves of the Doorman: The Works of Leon Rooke

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

White Gloves of the Doorman: The Works of Leon Rooke

Article excerpt

Branko Gorjup, White Gloves of the Doorman: The Works of Leon Rooke (Toronto: Exile Editions, 2004), 441 pp. Paper $34.95 CAN. $32.95 US. 30. ISBN 1-5509-6611-1.

This collection of essays on Rooke's work is long overdue. Given that Rooke is one of Canada's most prolific writers, with numerous screenplays, books of poetry and collections of short stories as well as seven novels to his name, it seems odd that his work is taking so long to work its way into the Canadian literary canon. Gorjup's book seeks to address this situation and provides the reader with 28 chapters on various aspects of Rooke's life and work. Included are chapters by Janice Kulyk Keefer, Anne Michaels, Simone Vauthier and Branko Gorjup himself. Some chapters are literary criticisms of Rooke's work, some are recollections of personal encounters with Rooke and some are simply tributes to Rooke and testimonies to the effects of his writing. In the main, the chapters are well written and equally well researched. I was at first unsure, however, of the usefulness to the academic reader of the inclusion of the more personal pieces by Anne Michaels, Tom McHaney, Lawrence Naumoff and others. While it is entertaining to read inspired comments such as this by Naumoff: 'Leon was born at two o clock in the morning and it is my guess that, unlike other babies, he enjoyed the experience and when slapped he laughed' (p. 3), this kind of personal observation sits uncomfortably alongside work of the quality of Simone Vauthier's excellent chapter 'Dangerous Crossing: A Reading of Leon Rooke's "The Birth Control King of the Upper Volta"'. …

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