The Milk Chicken Bomb 'auspicious' for Canadian Literature

Seeing Things
By Gisele M. Baxter
Canadian Literature
July 1 2008

The Milk Chicken Bomb is a young man's debut novel, and it is oddly touching for all its deliberate eccentricity. Its plot is virtually irrelevant; its audience undefined. The narrator is an unnamed ten-year-old living by his wits in a very small Prairie town, where he and his best friend try to sort out the mysterious activities of Russian immigrant workers and to eke out a living selling lemonade in winter. The practical joke of the title, often referred to, eventually planned and described, never enacted, sets the tone of this novel, where however awful the life, the child's vision of the world remains engagingly vivid, receptive, open to suggestion. Without context or experience to explain, anything is possible, a chinook as much as a deep-freeze. The sometimes too-obvious cool-quotient of the novel occasionally betrays its debut status (fifteen years ago, this might have aimed at the sort of college-aged audience drawn to films like The Reflecting Skin, in which real life horrors are rendered surreal through a child's perspective), but the intensely precise detail, and the consistently dazzling sense of specific perspective and setting make that debut genuinely auspicious.

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