» Literary Review of Canada
Peak Twins
November 22nd, 2017, 01:45 PM
In Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë has her intermittently cruel, hopelessly romantic, infinitely malleable anti-hero Heathcliff howl for the ghost of his deceased love, Catherine, in a wonderfully revealing way. “Be with me always,” Heathcliff implores, “take any form—drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you!” Madness, in Heathcliff’s […]
Bigger Than the Team
October 23rd, 2017, 01:45 PM
If you’re someone who’s mothered a famous hockey player, chances are that you have not subsequently gone out and written a book about it. Is this because your parental pride is more private than, say, a father’s, your fulfillment so much the quieter? Or because you don’t feel the same urgent need to explain your […]
The Money Trap
October 23rd, 2017, 01:45 PM
For more than 30 years, the physician Joel Lexchin has been a crusading Cassandra, warning Canadians of the commingling of interests between the medical profession and the pharmaceutical industry—and the dire risks it poses to drug safety and public health. His 1984 book, The Real Pushers: A Critical Analysis of the Canadian Drug Industry, foreshadowed […]
Lives of a Brother
October 23rd, 2017, 01:45 PM
It is no coincidence that Brother, the title of David Chariandy’s new novel, is similar to that of the memoir by Jamaica Kincaid. My Brother is Kincaid’s account of her younger sibling’s battle with AIDS. In the book she writes that she is surprised to learn that despite her brother’s sexual bravado in the company […]
Praise God—but First, the Market
October 23rd, 2017, 01:45 PM
“The most beloved of places to God are the mosques, and the most hated places to God are the markets.” —Muhammad For the millions of Muslims who reject the odious interpretation of Islam advanced by militants, the great dilemma has been how groups like ISIS or the Taliban were able to come to power at […]
Undeclaring a language war
October 23rd, 2017, 01:45 PM
This is the year of Canadian anniversaries. But in the flurry of events surrounding Canada’s 150th, Montreal’s 375th, the 40th anniversary of the Charte de la langue française (Charter of the French Language) in Quebec, and all the symbolic gestures of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, there has been relatively little mention—certainly in English—that 2017 is […]
Rites of Passage
October 23rd, 2017, 01:45 PM
Readers with a penchant for publishing-industry trivia may recall a story from 20 years ago, about an enterprising Canadian author, Sandra Gulland. The author of a trilogy of best-selling books about Josephine Bonaparte, Gulland hit upon an ingenious scheme to ensure her sophomore novel disappointed as few of her readers as possible: she focus-grouped the […]
A Sociology of CanLit
October 23rd, 2017, 01:45 PM
  I. THEN When you look through a peephole into the past, you hope for a clear view, but more often than not what you get is a kaleidoscopic vision. Little pieces, multifaceted and multicolored, that fit together to make a knowable pattern… —Elizabeth Brown Pryor, Six Encounters with Lincoln   We can find one […]
Trompe Le Toil: A Brief History of Getting By
October 23rd, 2017, 01:45 PM
Abraham Maslow once suggested that if all you have is a hammer, everything begins to look rather like a nail. From my desk, where I use my laptop to tweet, make dinner reservations, and do the labour that somehow amounts to making a living, everything looks like work. You may remember Maslow from your high […]
The Wrong Side of History
October 23rd, 2017, 01:45 PM
History has found itself dusting off the cobwebs lately and moving from backdrop to foreground. Controversies roil over Confederate statues in the United States and memorials for Cecil Rhodes in the U.K., and Sir John A. Macdonald in Canada—not to mention celebrations of the sesquicentennial. Countries around the world are grappling with dark chapters in […]
A Toast to the Lassie
August 8th, 2017, 01:45 PM
Almost every collection of Robert Burns’s poems includes an abbreviated (often inaccurate) account of the poet’s life. Standard biographies usually begin with the uneducated “Heaven-taught ploughman” of Ayrshire who was transformed, by the attentions of the great and the good, into “Scotland’s bard”; in fact, young Burns was well, albeit privately, educated and Scotland, unlike […]
Disappearing Act
August 8th, 2017, 01:45 PM
When I was in high school in Sarnia, Ontario, in the early 1980s, trying to play jazz on my trumpet, there were maybe six guys in the city trying to play jazz on the drums. Easily the best was a beautiful blond boy named Mark with sad blue eyes, the son of a music teacher. […]
Maud’s Darkening Gables
August 8th, 2017, 01:45 PM
War is not a topic generally associated with L.M. Montgomery, best known as an author of entertaining stories whose conflicts and sorrows usually resolve cheerfully. But Montgomery well knew that happy endings belong to the realm of romance rather than reality. As her own difficult life unfolded, from her birth in 1874 until her death […]
Un Canadien errant
August 8th, 2017, 01:45 PM
Truth is the first casualty of nation building, and Canada is hardly unique in preferring flights of fancy to bitter lumps of fact. It is sweet to believe that this country was created through peaceful negotiation, without resort to force of arms, through the goodwill of a few dozen bewhiskered, frock-coated gentlemen sequestered in conference rooms. […]
Mr. Lithuania in Canada
August 8th, 2017, 01:45 PM
Several years ago a young man asked me what it takes to write a memoir. “Wait for something bad to happen,” I told him. Then, by way of encouragement, I added, “Don’t worry. It will.” This was more curse, I see now, than helpful writerly advice. In my defence, I had so-called misery memoirs on […]