Who Has Seen the Wind?

Reviewed: June 27, 2003
By: Read by W. O. Mitchell
Publisher: Goose Lane Editions
2 Audiotapes, 3 hours, $18.95

Who Has Seen the Wind is one of the classics of Canadian literature, and author W.O. Mitchell was the best presenter of his own work. It’s a real shame there isn’t more of Mitchell on tape out there for public consumption, but as far as I know only two abridged novels and a selection of performance pieces have been released.

This book is, at its core, a reworking of the author’s own struggle to deal with the early loss of his father. This is examined through the life of Brian O’Connal, viewed between the ages of four to twelve.

This abridgement follows the main line of Brian’s story and eliminates anything that doesn’t deal with him directly. That’s a weakness, since a lot of the colour in this novel can be found along the spur lines that jut out from the main track. In particular, the fourth section of the book is not well served in this adaptation.

For all that, it remains a good reading, both thoughtful and full of good humour. It’s neat to hear the emphasis Mitchell chose to place on certain passages and to see what he was willing to leave out to get it to this length for the radio broadcast, which originally appeared on CBC’s “Between the Covers” in the 1990’s.