Summary (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
In this book, Kinsella revisits the characters from the Ermineskin series. The evolving relationship between Silas, who has become a writer, and his buddy Frank is the focus of this collection. The characters have grown since they appeared in The Fencepost Chronicles and The Miss Hobbema Pageant, but they are no less raucous. Kinsella follows his lovable misfits as they swindle their way across western Canada, generally wreaking havoc.
“Bull” chronicles Frank’s battle with the Alberta Supreme Court in a uproarious cattle-insemination case. Frank, a witty con artist, is also at the center of the title story, in which he turns a government-sponsored gospel radio show upside down. In “Miracle on Manitoba Street,” Frank again concocts an illicit scheme as he visits a Montana reservation and carves the image of the Virgin Mary into a Frigidaire, convincing the locals that it is a miracle, one that they should have to pay to see. “Dream Catcher,” one of Kinsella’s more serious stories, explores the realities of child abuse, as Silas’s twelve-year-old sister is assaulted. “Ice Man” raises questions about gender and identity, as Jason Twelve Trees tries to take part in a cooking competition while his father presses him to become a mechanic. Finally, “The Rain Birds” is a story that is deeply concerned with environmental issues, particularly the effects of corporate farming on the human and natural environment in western...
(The entire section is 272 words.)
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