Bus-Ride is a week in the lives of the people of a small Ontario town in March 1939, most notably in the life of Bill Underhill. Bill is the town’s star hockey player, scouted by the big leagues and certain of a pro career. Everyone is sure he will leave the village one day as the Leafs’ new centre, everyone but Bill. This is definitely a poet’s novel. What might have been another pedestrian boy-grows-to-manhood-unsubtle-autobiography becomes first-class fiction with Gutteridge’s skill and wit — not unlike Alden Nowlan’s Various Persons named Kevin O’Brien. The body of the book is written in a mordant style that has a delightful old-time quality, framed by two highly poetic counterpoints which supply both context and contention. Ironic detachment pervades incidents of hostile Canadian weather, adolescent miscouplings and locker-room bravado, and the feeling is that Gutteridge is very serious about his story but refuses to take seriously his character’s pretensions — much in the manner of the Victorian novelists, particularly Thackeray. The bus ride of the title is a highly vivid piece of writing that climaxes the novel and brings Bill to a decision we knew he must make. Bus-Ride is a mature piece of work by a writer deserving careful reading.