» Literary Review of Canada
Power-hungry humans
January 29th, 2018, 01:35 PM
Just before Christmas, I found myself at a snowbound cabin in the woods about three hours north of Toronto. The cabin was off the electrical grid. It featured a wood stove for heat, solar panels for light, and a backup generator for emergencies. Every morning, my husband knelt before the wood stove, worshipfully coaxing its […]
Jean Chrétien: Fox or snake
January 29th, 2018, 01:35 PM
Two of the more intriguing animal ​protagonists in literature are the fox and snake. In Aesop’s fables, they’re often depicted as intelligent, devious, and crafty. In contrast, the National Film Board’s puppet film The Man, the Snake and the Fox (1978), based on an Ojibwa legend, depicts a heroic, intelligent fox outwitting a sneaky, dastardly […]
Never home: Djamila Ibrahim’s debut
January 29th, 2018, 01:35 PM
To the exiled, the emigrants, and the displaced, a homeland can turn into a parent more powerful than any other. The desire to belong authentically to a nation, to align one’s identity markers and political ideals with its values, to be accepted by this authority and protected in return—it resembles the meaning one looks for […]
I Was a Teenage Mystic!
January 29th, 2018, 01:35 PM
In September 2007, Nelly Arcan appeared on the talk show Tout le monde en parle, a cultural phenomenon in Quebec watched weekly by more than a million viewers. Her first two novels, Whore and Hysteric, had scorched the literary landscape with their caustic, quasi-autobiographical reflections on sex work, death, and the toxic veneration of female […]
David Milne escapes the woods
January 29th, 2018, 01:35 PM
In the late fall of 1918, David Milne found himself in London on soldier’s leave. What to do next? The Armistice had been declared just weeks before, but his training had ended too late for him to see active duty. Another opportunity, however, was soon to present itself; while walking in Mayfair he chanced upon […]
Is multiculturalism in crisis?
January 29th, 2018, 01:35 PM
On October 1, 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau became the oldest leader of the three major federal political parties. Ontario MPP Jagmeet Singh had just been elected leader of the federal New Democrats, grabbing 53.8 percent of the vote in the first (and only) round of a four-person race. It was a remarkable achievement that […]
How we are (still) dying
January 29th, 2018, 01:35 PM
It has been a year and a half since the law passed permitting physician-assisted death in Canada, and more than two since the landmark 2015 Supreme Court case Carter v. Canada, which struck down the Criminal Code’s prohibitions on medically assisted dying. The issue remains fraught with logistical and ethical challenges. Questions swirl about access, […]
Mammoth or pigeon? De-extinction’s choices
January 29th, 2018, 01:35 PM
Imagine that you are standing on the streets of Toronto or Hamilton on a spring day sometime in the 19th century. The skies begin to darken as a massive flock of birds passes overhead, blotting the sun. The beating of billions of wings rumbles like thunder, stirring up a wind that chills you to the […]
Is secularism really better for women?
January 29th, 2018, 01:35 PM
In October 2017, Quebec’s National Assembly passed legislation prohibiting women from receiving public services while wearing a niqab, which covers the wearer’s face. Muslim women were among those who objected. Saima Sajid said to Globe and Mail reporter Ingrid Peritz, “If you choose to wear a bikini, why can’t I cover myself?” These contrasting approaches […]
David Frum’s Trump card
January 29th, 2018, 01:35 PM
David Frum’s journey to the White House began in Toronto. In 1975, Frum was a teenage volunteer on a provincial political campaign. The candidate belonged to the New Democratic Party, but Frum, whose political views had yet to solidify, was not supporting him out of solidarity. Frum rather signed on because he wanted to see […]
People as Platform
December 27th, 2017, 01:35 PM
On Amazon’s Mechanical Turk job board, a recent posting simply read “enter missing data.” The task was described as “add and edit data from a pdf.” The pay: 25 cents. Amazon describes Mechanical Turk, a website that has been operational since 2005, as providing “an on-demand scalable, human workforce to complete jobs that humans can […]
Anti-Know-Nothings and Great Unknowns
December 27th, 2017, 01:35 PM
A number of both real and imagined ghost orchards populate Helen Humphreys’ beautiful, evocative book, The Ghost Orchard: The Hidden History of the Apple in North America. The most unsettling of these has to be the “glossary of lost apples” at the end of the book. Little more than an alphabetical list and brief description of […]
Men with Boats
December 27th, 2017, 01:35 PM
Maps tell stories: their lines and names forge relationships between people and the land, and among disparate communities; they assert beliefs as well as scientific facts; they not only record what is there, but they also dream places into existence. These dreams are especially visible on historical maps drawn long before satellite images filled in […]
Caged
December 27th, 2017, 01:35 PM
The promotional jacket copy for Kevin Hardcastle’s new novel In The Cage comes out swinging: “A feared cage fighter in mixed martial arts, Daniel is closing in on greatness—until an injury derails his career,” we are told. “Out of work in his country hometown, Daniel slips into the underworld, moonlighting as muscle for a childhood-friend-turned-mid-level […]
Spirited Away
December 27th, 2017, 01:35 PM
The main character of Son of a Trickster, Eden Robinson’s third novel (and the first in a trilogy), is 16-year-old Jared, renowned weed-cookie baker and adolescent mess. But we first meet him, briefly, when he’s five, learning that his maternal grandmother has never liked him because she believes he is Wee’git’s son. When they’re alone […]