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Old 07-25-01, 03:59 PM   #1
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Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: chez moi
Posts: 370
Apple The Circus at the Edge of the Earth - Charles Wilkins

Subtitled "Travels With the Great Wallenda Circus"

Just finished reading this and thought I'd give it a recommend. Wilkins is a straight writer from Thunder Bay who decided to accompany this iteration of the Wallendas as they toured some of the least hospitable landscape of Canada, from Thunder Bay, Ontario through Flin Flon, Thompson and eventually to Winnepeg, Manitoba.

Not exactly on-point from a street performing perspective, but I found much symmetry with his descriptions of the physical demands of performing, the psychological and emotional rigours of touring, and especially with the strong but transitory ties made between members of this circus community.

The recounting of the horrific Wallenda family disasters, including the Detroit pyramid collapse in 1962 that took the lives of two aerialists and severely injured several others, certainly gave me the shivers. In fact, the dangers that each act faces and overcomes daily in the execution of their performance are quite vivid, but just as apparent is their love for and dedication to the craft.

There's only a touch of romanticism here. Most of the writer's experiences seem to be forthrightly retold, warts and all. Like the elephant trainer (who lacks the ability for self-censorship) who dispatches animal rights demonstrators by threatening to send the elephant out to catch them and "make love" to them!

It lists at $19.99 CDN/$15.95 US in softcover. Published by McLellan & Stewart Ltd, ISBN 0-7710-8842-6. Enjoy.

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