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The Chess Garden    by Brooks Hansen order for
Chess Garden
by Brooks Hansen
Order:  USA  Can
Farrar Straus & Giroux, 1995 (1995)
Hardcover, Softcover, Paperback
*   Reviewed by Sally Selvadurai

The Chess Garden's principle character, Dr. Uyterhoeven, is searching for meaning in life. His restless early years are a quest for substance. He wants answers to what life has dealt him. This search interweaves in remarkable letters that he writes home from South Africa. These letters take the reader on a journey through the Antipodes - a fantastical place filled with dominoes, marbles and a myriad of other game pieces.

The linkages between these pieces (which do, in fact, have personalities and histories) and Dr. Uyterhoeven's own life of happiness and despair, are superbly imaginative. This novel intrigues: the doctor's quest for spitituality and meaning in his life - first in Holland, then throughout Europe and ultimately to the United States - culminates when he volunteers his medical expertise in the Boer War.

There, his marvelous tales of adventure through the Antipodes are woven from dreams and memories. Ultimately, The Chess Garden offers a strange and uneasy look into the unconscious mind, showing how fact and fiction intertwine.

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