» Literary Review of Canada
A Toast to the Lassie
August 8th, 2017, 09:25 AM
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, 09:25 AM
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, 09:25 AM
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, 09:25 AM
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, 09:25 AM
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 […]
The Sins of a City
August 8th, 2017, 09:25 AM
The multi-hyphenated subgenre to which Eve Lazarus’s Blood, Sweat and Fear: The Story of Inspector Vance, Vancouver’s First Forensic Investigator belongs—historical–forensic–true-crime—aligns multiple aspects of our cultural fascination with crime. It bundles deep social history with the satisfactions of science’s absolute-truth crime-solving promise and, in some texts, pornographically gory splatter. Lazarus’s Vancouver-centralized history, presented as a […]
Border Crossings
August 8th, 2017, 09:25 AM
Steven Heighton may be Canada’s most romantic novelist. Not romantic as in affairs of the heart—although he does write stirringly of love—but as in the capital “R” Romantic of the 19th-century poets. The Romantic Movement emerged out of the ideals of the French Revolution, and its literary practitioners rebelled against the neo-classicism of the previous […]
“An Odiferous Goulash”
August 8th, 2017, 09:25 AM
Local newspapers are an endangered species in Canada today. At least 70 community newspapers have shut down across the country since 2008, as recorded by the Local News Research Project at Ryerson University’s School of Journalism. In 2016, the 149-year-old Guelph Mercury ended its print edition, as did the Nanaimo Daily News and the Northern Journal […]
Brush with Infamy
August 8th, 2017, 09:25 AM
In September 2016, a Toronto auction house offered one of its periodic online auctions of art. The pieces were Canadian (mainly), of reasonable quality (generally) and would go to the highest bidder (always). Descriptions of each painting included the name of the artist, title of the work (perhaps, in some cases, the imaginative creation of the […]
Picture Perfect
August 8th, 2017, 09:25 AM
Georgia O’Keeffe has been the subject of two major exhibitions that ran concurrently this year. Georgia O’Keeffe, at the Art Gallery of Ontario courtesy of the Tate Modern, was a retrospective that re-examined the American painter’s career, her development and her contribution to modernism. The other, Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern, at the Brooklyn Museum, was […]
Unsettled
August 8th, 2017, 09:25 AM
The cover of Peter H. Russell’s new book prominently features a map of Canada, but make no mistake: Russell’s position as author is in fact more akin to the experienced guide than the cartographer, and he is quite open about what he is working to guide us toward. Canada’s Odyssey: A Country Based on Incomplete Conquests […]
The New Dissent
August 8th, 2017, 09:25 AM
In his fine manifesto Letters to a Young Contrarian, Christopher Hitchens tells the story of Nelson Mandela being visited in prison by South African authorities who had been shaken by growing international condemnation. You’re free to go, they told him, out you get. Except Mandela told them, Look, you don’t have the power to release […]
Unsolicited
June 1st, 2017, 09:25 AM
In a recent interview with the New Yorker, Margaret Atwood took note of her favourite sign at the Women’s March in Toronto in January, one of many hundreds of marches by many millions of women around the world. It read: “I can’t believe I’m still holding this fucking sign.” “After sixty years, why are we […]
Sketches of New Spain
June 1st, 2017, 09:25 AM
For devotees of the brilliant and largely forgotten 19th-century explorer, naturalist and scientist Alexander von Humboldt, the past year has been something of a bonanza. First came 2016’s The Invention of Nature: Alex­ander von Humboldt’s New World, the excellent biography by Andrea Wulf, which won the coveted £25,000 Royal Society prize in Britain for the best […]
Interlinguistic Planetary
June 1st, 2017, 09:25 AM
The surrealist novel begins life at a disadvantage: it must work hard to gain a reader’s trust. In place of mimesis it offers a dreamscape, a tilted horizon, a distorting lens. It sacrifices the depth of its characters for an oblique commentary on character in general, its mutability, its constituent elements, its materialist foundations. The […]