The Kid from Simcoe Street
by Jim Clarke
Deprived of a father left for war, living in poverty, Jim Clarke survives dysfunctional family beset by alcoholism and overcomes adversity to become a high court judge, author and poet. Published by Exile Editions, this is a highly- recommended read.
As bold, brave and blunt an account of childhood as given in The Kid from Simcoe Street by James Clarke, a retired Judge of the Ontario Supreme Court, would be hard to equal. This superb memoir of growing up far from the battlefields of the Second World War has nevertheless a close and strong connection to the military experience.
The narrator’s father, a Protestant Ulsterman married to a French Canadian Roman Catholic in a rural Canadian town, was a volunteer soldier during the Second World War who fought in North Africa, Sicily, and about Caen following the Normandy invasion. Though not a barrack rat by any definition used by army families, Jim Clarke’s boyhood was nevertheless fashioned by a military commitment. This puts The Kid from Simcoe Street solidly in the rank and file of military-shaped literature.
Here is a childhood fashioned by the deprivation of a parent on military service told with poetic sensitivity and frankness. What is more, his wounded father, safely returned and demobilized, suffered from what today we easily recognise as TSD (traumatic stress disorder). His malady took the form of alcoholism, which is as destructive to family life as anything one can imagine, exacerbated in this family’s case by the mother’s degeneration under the same demon.
This is a wonderful, readable and graceful story of triumph against all odds. The book is acclaimed in a foreword by the Honorable R. Roy McMurtry, former Ontario Chief Justice, Attorney General and Canada’s High Commissioner to Great Britain. What the most honorable gentleman had to say about How to Bribe a Judge is left unsaid!
Published by Exile Editions
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