Page 35 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 40

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BUTOVSKY / CANADIAN JEWISH WRITERS
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while writing only o f Canada , draw ing upon memory and the
experiences o f interm ittent visits fo r his inimitable stories. (Th is
may account fo r the fact that his repu tation is more firm ly en ­
trenched in Eng land and Eu rope than it is in his native land.)
Levine’s story-telling method involves a first-person n arra tor
revisiting the scenes o f his ch ildhood — the old Jew ish neigh­
borhood in Ottawa with its p edd lers and store-keepers, old
friends , surviving family, public school, synagogue — but now all
swept away by time and obliterated by large-scale u rban re d e ­
velopment. T h e n arra tor notes the change in a controlled , un ­
emotional voice su f fu sed with the sense o f loss and regret. Sp a r se
in detail, his stories are reticent and undemonstrative but deeply
stirring, the re ad e r more conscious o f the registering mind o f the
n arrator than the tangible world he is describing.
All the stories in his collections, One Way Ticket (1961), / Don’t
Want to Know Anyone too Well (1971), and Thin Ice (1980), convey a
mood o f dom inating solitude. T h e narrator-observer ’s keen sight
catches every slight nuance o f change that has overtaken and
re shaped his world, and his uninflected, resigned voice charts the
new landscape including his own alien presence. T h e Jew ish
ambience in Levine ’s fiction is mu ted , sometimes related to names
o f characters, sometimes to cadences o f speech, but beyond the
mimetic it is continually felt as a persona l touchstone o f once
concentrated m ean ing now dispersed .
IMPACT OF HOLOCAUST
F rom the late 1930 ’s, and increasingly du r ing the years follow­
ing World War II , C an ad a ’s Jew ish popu lation was augm en ted by
Eu ropean s fortuna te enough to escape the con flagration or
m iraculously survive its terror. Few writers have as yet em erged
from among these to tell their tale o f imm igration and integration
su ffered under more d read circum stances than those visited on
the earlier arrivals. Henry Kreisel (born 1922) was born in V ienna
to East Eu ropean s who had fled from the ravages that had over­
taken their native Galicia. A fter the Anschluss, the family was
fortunate enough to gain re fuge in Eng land , but in one o f the
bitter ironies o f the period , K reisel and his father , a long with
some hund red s o f other Jew ish re fuge e s hudd led in Eng land ,
were designated “enemy aliens.” U nd er suspicion that they posed
a threat to national security, they were rounded up and d is­