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Book Reviews

Pool Hopping and Other Stories

by Anne Fleming

Pool Hopping is a first collection of short stories by Vancouver writer Anne Fleming. Most of the stories are set in Toronto (where Fleming spent her youth), and reflect an atmosphere in which every act is perceived as self-conscious and political.

In a way, Fleming has written a kind of Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret? for young lesbians. The cast of characters that populate these tales – disenchanted Brownies with homoerotic urges, a boy who is compelled by his insecurity to be a near-rapist, and outcast Goth children bent on self-destruction – will ultimately be the most appealing to teenagers troubled or mystified about their sexuality.

Pool Hopping has great intrinsic value as an educational or counselling tool. Every story takes a proactive stance against a world that seems hell-bent on robbing teens of their individuality. Each story is a morality tale about the dangers of perceiving yourself as an outcast; the lesson is that we are all, in some way, pathetic, human, and vulnerable.

Fleming is also particularly good at shedding insight into the male ego without resorting to male-bashing; “Solar Plexus” is a depressing yet insightful look into the psyche of a sexually frustrated male teenager and what motivates him to think that “no means yes.” “Nelson” is about a girl who must make the choice between being weak or strong and who accidentally injures the ego of the guy she likes when she chooses to be strong. It is a brilliant short story about how women don’t know their own strength and are conditioned to give their power away.

Ultimately, these thoughtful short stories are about emotional dissonance, how the right to personal autonomy sometimes creates discord in our personal relationships. Fleming is not just a writer but also an educator, as she tells us the one valuable thing she has learned: “to thine own self be true.”


Reviewer: Donna Lypchuk

Publisher: Polestar Book Publishers


Price: $16.95

Page Count: 192 pp

Format: Paper

ISBN: 1-896095-18-6

Released: Nov.

Issue Date: 1998-12

Categories: Fiction: Short