Reviews

The Complaints Department

Patty Osborne

The Complaints Department by Susan Haley (Gaspereau Press) has a green cover, but the story is all about having the blues. It takes place in Prohibition Creek, N.W.T., where people say you can’t do anything about “residential school, fur prices, the game laws, government red tape, the Housing Corporation, bears in town, TV interference, loose dogs, no cigarettes in the store, bushmen, UFO sightings, the oil companies, unemployment, and for that matter, employment.” At the beginning of the story Robert Woodcutter, a gambler and a drinker, gets kicked out of the house by his long-suffering wife, and by the end of the story he has managed, in a roundabout way, to regain control of his life. As we follow his meandering path we get a taste of life in a remote Native community through the experiences of Robert’s extended family and eccentric friends. The story moves along at a good clip and although the writing is loose in places, Haley’s excellent dialogue and soft humour kept pulling me back into the story.

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