JOHN METCALF'S What Is A Canadian Literature? (Red Kite Press, 104 pages, $9.95 paper) is a book that takes the Canadian literary academy by the scruff of its neck and rubs its nose in the mess it has made. It is a superb polemic, witty and consistently thoughtful.
Book ReviewEmpress Of All She Surveys
by Marni Jackson
MARIANNE WIGGINS is a respected writer, born in America, living in London, whose life has recently been rewritten by the fact that she is married to Salman Rushdie. For the time being, she has become one of literature`s curious new exiles, a kind of outcast in her own country. She must take bitter pleasure in the fact that her novel, John Dollar, foreshadows this situation in several ways
Book ReviewHistorical Romance
by Paul Stuewe
LESS THAN two pages into Rites of Spring, Modris Eksteins announces that such philosopher-historians as Oswald Spengler and Arnold Toynbee have a new rival in the sweeping generalization sweepstakes. "Like all wars," he opines, "the 1914 war, when it broke out, was seen as an opportunity for change
Book ReviewNative Peoples
IN HIS wonderful book The People's Land: Eskimos and Whites in the Eastern Arctic, Hugh Brody makes the point that most white Canadians who come in contact with Eskimos and native Indians are immediately driven to see them as individuals so different from themselves that they might as well be Martians.
Book ReviewNo Great Mischief If They Fall
by Alistair Macleod
As I move down the hallway, I am troubled, as always,
by the fear of what I may find. If my knock is unanswered
and if the door is locked', I will listen with my ear close to
the keyhole for the sound of his uneven breathing
AS I BEGIN to tell this, it is the golden month of September in southwestern Ontario. In the splendid autumn sunshine the bounty of the land is almost overwhelming; as if it were the manifestation of a poem by Keats. Along Highway No.
by Keith Maillard
416 pages $22.95
by David Homel
A MOTET, Keith Maillard tells us on the very first page of his latest novel, is an unaccompanied choral composition based on a Latin sacred text and designed to be performed in the Roman Catholic service, chiefly at Vespers.
Those readers who built themselves an idea of what Maillard`s writing is like from his American myth epics like Alex Driving South might be pulled up short by this classical music reference.
Book ReviewFigure And Ground
by Claude Bissell
DURING his lifetime Marshall McLuhan was the subject of numerous articles in a wide variety of magazines, from Playboy to the New York Review of Books. Many of these articles had apocalyptic titles: "Canada`s Intellectual Giant," "Prophet of What?," "Salvation through McLuhan," "Born Under Telstar." Even the few book-length studies were often shrill and combative. Now, almost 10 Years since his death, the time has come for cooler appraisals.
|Whale Music |
by Paul Quarrington,
224 pages TC
Book ReviewThe Teeth Of Comedy
by Jack Macleod
FANS of the comic novel in Canada don`t often get a chance to wax enthusiastic, because there are so few excellent examples. This one is a dandy.
Shall we clear away the superlatives and blurt out the bias here, straight out? Whale Music is the best comic novel since Douglas Glover`s The South Will Rise at Noon (1988), which was the best comic novel since Michael Malone.`s Handling Sin (1985), which has been called the best since Joseph Heller`s Catch-22.
Book ReviewScientist Of The Sublime
by Brian Fawcett
FIRST MEETINGS between writers ? particularly young male writers ? are usually guarded and unproductive. My first meeting with Christopher Dewdney 10 years ago was an exception to the rule, and it set our relationship on a permanent course. It began in Vancouver with a rather abrupt telephone call.
"Hi," said a voice. "This is Chris Dewdney." Then without waiting for a response, he got right to what was on his mind. "Someone told me you would know where I can find an arbutus tree.
Book ReviewSons And Lovers
by Joyce Marshall
TWO THRILLERS this month, and three novels that could be loosely described As novels of search ? for the past, for the self (or for both past and self). South Africa and Kenya there is very little about Canada in this lot ? are the setting for William Schermbrucker's Mimosa (Talonbooks, 320 pages, $12.95 paper), a quest for the mother who died during his childhood.
ONE OF the great modem stories is the story of the sensitive child born to a brutal or unthinking parent. The child cannot help but be impressed by the parent, cannot help but love the parent, and as its awareness grows, this love cannot help but turn into a deep anger that often verges on hatred ? an anger based essentially on the fact that the child was unable to communicate with this adult who meant so much to it. Fred Stenson's novel Last One Home (NeWest Press, 158 pages, $8
ORIGINALLY published in 1980 when its author was 86, To Whom the Wilderness Speaks (Natural Heritage, 192 pages, $14,95 paper) is a book that cannot die so long as there are readers for whom understanding and protecting the natural environment is a priority. Nearly 50 years ago, Louise de Kiriline Lawrence and her husband Len built "a small loghouse in an uninhabited forest" in Northern Ontario, intending to "live the simple life.
Book ReviewTortured Correctness
by I. M. Owen
SYNTACTICAL TANGLES: Mavor Moore has sent me two clippings from the Globe and Mail containing what he calls "two dandy bits of syntax." The first, in an excerpt from an American book on management, runs: We have been through a decade of gross hucksterism in which executives have been had to undergo assertiveness training. I think this is probably a simple error in typesetting had for made.
Book ReviewTenderness And Rage
by Di Brandt
YVONNE KLEIN's fine translation makes available to English readers the dizzying, delirious prose of Jovette Marchessault (Like a Child of the Earth won the Prix France?Quebec in 1976). It's hard to talk about this book, the first volume of her autobiographical trilogy, hard to name what's happening artistically in it, because it opens up so much wild, uncharted territory, unheard of in English?Canadian writing
Book ReviewRain And Storm
by Bruce Whiteman
IN A POEM called "Fingernails," Roo Borson makes an interesting confession:
I, on the other hand, am fascinated, have always been gifted with a visionary clumsiness, never knowing where the world stops and I begin.
This negative capability (in the Keatsian sense) is a characteristic of many great poets, and in the greatest is found in combination with an innate mastery of the formal elements of art.
|Home Again |
by Cynthia Holz
176 pages $18.95
| Truth Or Lies |
by Frances Itani
93 pages $12.95
Book ReviewA Sad Delight
by Beverley Daurio
FRANCES ITANI appeals more strongly to the heart than to the intellect. With writing as beautiful and textured as fine tapestry, she constructs chronologically discontinuous vignettes that are layered into whole pictures of lives or people.
The most powerful story in Truth or Lies is also the least traditional: "White Butterfly" depicts a Japanese grandmother who has become separated from her family in the great crush of a crowd waiting for a train.
|Before And Amr |
Govier Viking (Penguin)
269 pages $22.95
Book ReviewNew Women
by Joel Yanofsky
I TEND to distrust those "before and after" ads that appear in less literary magazines than this one. The problem is obvious: no one is encouraged to look their best in the "before" picture. Photographed in absurd clothes and unflattering poses, no one ever smiles or even looks remotely happy "before." the fix is in; the deck is invariably stacked.
Book ReviewThe Shooting Of Eddie Waitkus
by Kent Thompson
DON`T FORGET Ruth Ann Steinhagen. It was she who shot Eddie Waitkus, then first baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies, in 1949. Waitkus was a solid .300 hitter (without much power) and a graceful fielder, but nothing remarkable. Nonetheless Ruth Ann Steinhagen fell in love with him from afar and could not bear the agony. So one night she knocked on his hotelroom door. He opened it. Bam! She shot him.
Book ReviewMemoir / Biography
IF ISHBEL Marjoribanks had been a boy, she would have become prime minister. Selfconfident, powerful in appearance and character, she found her meat and drink in politics. The husband she chose, John Gordon, Earl of Aberdeen, was a would?be humanitarian happy to let her guide him. Certainly she deserved her Canadian reputation for partisan meddling, but the projects she organized to benefit women, children, and the sick were more lasting outlets for her very considerable energy.
Book ReviewAdventurer`S Progress
by Stan Persky
IN His autobiographical Ways of Escape (1980), Graham Greene snappishly remarks, "Some critics have referred to a strange violent `seedy` region of the mind (why did I ever popularize that last adjective?) which they call Greeneland, and I have sometimes wondered whether they go round the world blinkered." It`s all real, he insists.
Later on, he partially relents: "Greeneland perhaps. I can only
say it is the land in which I have passed much of my life
Book ReviewCrocus Conference
by Dave Margoshes
Governor General's Award?winners and unpublished poets
hobnobbed at the Weyburn Writers' Conference.
They danced and killed beer together, and George
Bowering's shoes mysteriously got filled with popcorn
EVERYWHERE you look in Saskatchewan, there are writers ? more per square mile than anywhere else in the country, the local intelligence goes.
Letters to EditorAward Winners
by Brian Bartlett
JOEL YANOFSKY is sometimes a lively, perceptive journalist. So one can only hope he was having a bad day when he penned his report (in your May issue) on the recent Governor General's Awards ceremony. This report includes a dose of healthy, humorous cynicism about literary awards.
Letters to EditorPalestine And Israel
by Erna Paris And James Graff
I WAS appalled to read James Graff's review of my book, The Garden and The Gun in your April issue. I'm not concerned about whether he "liked" it or not. He seems to have mixed views on that score, which is fair enough. What I object to in the strongest terms is the way he has so crudely distorted my writing on the Palestinians.
Letters to EditorDepartment Of Clarification
by George Woodcock And Bruce Serafin
I DO NOT believe in answering reviewers When they merely criticize my books; by the very act of publication one has decided to release one's work to the opinion of the world and should be ready to accept it, good or bad, with equal equanimity., But when a reviewer proceeds from criticism to lies and defamation, and not of me only but also of another critic, then objection becomes necessary.
Letters to EditorDeconstrucirve Criticism
by George Elliott Clarke And Erin Moure
ERIN MOURE's review of Poets 88 (January?February) is marred by the very conservatism which she claims to oppose. Indeed, her notion that poetry is only realized when poets "get behind the self, the central reified self' is a convention that results in the self?conscious dilettantism of poems about poetry.
Moure also observes that "the poets exist inside the forms." I should hope so: all poets exist inside forms whether sonnets or the most "formless" vers libre
Letters to EditorSalman Rushdie
by Allan Chamberlain And M. E. Csamer
WHILE I'm hardly about to defend the Ayatollah Khomeini's cowardly call for the head of Salman Rushdie, I am surprised that few seem unable to at least entertain the ambiguities in the Rushdie affair.
I'm particularly surprised by the community of writers who know from experience that free speech is not absolute; that "free speech" is constantly restrained, compromised, molded and shaped to serve a myriad of ends and needs, and not all of them wholesome either.