canadian ~ twenty-first century literature since 1999

Dance of the Suitors
by J.M. Villaverde
Oberon Press, 2006

Therefore Repent
by Jim Munroe and Salgood Sam
No Media Kings, 2007

Reviewed by Ron Johnson

In Dance of the Suitors, J.M. Villaverde takes the reader on a candid exploration of the different manifestations of sexual desires and love from a male perception. This collection of short stories broaches this subject from a variety of perceptions, yet the endings allow the reader broad interpretation.

The author has a unique way of describing the subject matter, settings and people. His ability to put emotions into words gives him a distinct place in literature. Simple expressions such as ‘a childhood of perpetual regulation’ quickly depict exactly what he his trying to portray. Some stories resonated with this reader, while others appeared foreign.

"Acapulco" takes depicts a journey to this Mexican city. Two men take a ten-day holiday together, both having travelled together previously. By amusing themselves creating fictional stories to pass the time, they weave history and the present into their plot. One man pursues female company in the form of local prostitution, while the other prefers the company of a fellow tourist. The conclusion follows the same trend in all the short stories in this book –- the unexpected.

The stories flow smoothly, but I cannot say the same for the conclusions. The author carries the weight of interpretation until the end, and then he transfers it to the reader. The relaxing read suddenly becomes perplexing. I am intrigued by Villaverde’s style of writing, and will watching for more of his work. With his powerful ability, he could easily take a reader on a journey with a solid story plot, be it a mystery or drama.


Therefore Repent is a graphic novel and a collaboration between Jim Munroe and Salgood Sam. Munroe provides the dialogue and Sam provides the narrative in the form of comic-style art. Futuristic, but encompassing the present, it takes the reader on a journey with two survivors, Raven and Mummy. The story has a believable love theme regarding the relationship of these two, and the insecurities they are experiencing while trying to survive in the new world. Questions abound regarding what is going on, and the answers are revealed in a timely manner, along with some surprises.

When I began to read this fiction, I felt it was about the part of our society that struggles to exist. As I progressed, features of the Bible and especially The Book of Revelation began to present themselves. Then, I couldn’t help but relate to the Left Behind series as I reached the meat of the story, the Rapture. The evil ones are woven from the characters of present day conquerors. Magical occurrences round out the drama, and add an interesting twist to the whole adventure.

The author/s of this book have managed to delve into the past, present and future. In doing so, they expose some myths, hopes and dangers of the world we live in.

Identifying the motives of the secondary characters took a second reading at times, but they did become clear. The graphic detail and artwork does a good job of describing the setting and moving the reader from one scene to another. This would make a good serial book.

Ron Johnson is freelance writer and an author with a true adventure book due to be published early in the 2008. He has written a short story recalling some travel misadventures that will appear in an anthology in September 2008.





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