Marlene Nourbese Philip achieved an inadvertent kind of fame as the woman June Callwood told to fuck off at a writers' conference some time ago. Her new book Frontiers: Essays and Writings on Racism and Culture (Mercury), makes it easy to see why. Nourbese Philip is an irascible, in-your-face polemicist; you will want to like her book if only to avoid having to consider yourself a racist if you don't. But she doesn't make it easy. Her prose is sullen and humourless, the rhetoric is turned up full blast, and there are too many sentences like this one: "If there is one central point around which the essays and articles in this collection focus, it is the need on the part of what has traditionally been seen as Canadian culture, as represented by arts councils and organizations, to respect those cultures—African, Asian and Native—that had long established circuits of culture, which Europeans interrupted, bringing with them their own culture, with its central economic practice of capitalism." Huh? The fuck-off incident brought no credit to June Callwood, but one might politely suggest that Nourbese Philip goes overboard when she calls it "the verbal equivalent of the Chinese government reaction to its demonstrators in Tiananmen Square." This author seems to be more interested in hurling abuse than in suggesting what black and white can do to live together.