» Literary Review of Canada
All in the Family
March 27th, 2017, 01:18 PM
I remember going to the offices of Heenan Blaikie in 2001, when I was an associate at another Bay Street law firm in Toronto. Heenan’s offices were not like those dour, wood-panelled offices of other law firms. They were bright, light filled—different because Heenan tried to be different. For four decades, the firm attracted a marquee […]
Pure Madness
March 27th, 2017, 01:18 PM
If the editors of Virgin Envy: The Cultural (In)Significance of the Hymen considered, even briefly, appropriating the title of Madonna’s iconic song for their book, they may have dismissed it as too corny. But, as usual when it comes to iconography, Madonna was on to something. The essays in Virgin Envy explore in depth what the […]
Couched in Verse
March 27th, 2017, 01:18 PM
A little girl, escaping monsters, washes up on unfamiliar shores where an analyst takes her in. Over 40 years the analyst cares for her, as the little girl turns into a poet, a grown woman, a grey queen. She marries a knight and moves to a faraway land. Then the analyst has a stroke, an AVM (that […]
Empire in Collapse
March 27th, 2017, 01:18 PM
The rise of jihadist Islam and the ­turmoil of the Arab world have led to a few dystopian it-can-happen-here novels that imagine the rise of a powerful Islamist state to the detriment of democratic values. Michel Houellebecq’s Submission imagines a not-too-distant French republic in which an Islamist party is elected to the federal government (its […]
The Woman Inside
March 27th, 2017, 01:18 PM
In the late 1990s when I first arrived in Toronto, I shared an apartment with Mariko Tamaki, who was, like me, an emerging writer. We passed the books Falling Angels and We So Seldom Look on Love back and forth, asking each other the questions, How does she do it? How does she think of […]
Very Magnetic North
March 27th, 2017, 01:18 PM
For more than 150 years, explorers, ­scientists, archeologists and maritime scholars searched for the lost ships from Sir John Franklin’s last expedition. It was an exploration conundrum of the highest order, played out on the vast, icy and forbidding landscapes of the Arctic Islands in the Canadian North. Few outsiders ventured into this cold expanse, leaving […]
Playing against Type
March 27th, 2017, 01:18 PM
Recently I devoured the memoir Avid Reader: A Life, by the legendary American editor and publisher of the late 20th century Robert Gottlieb. It contains the warning that “all editors’ memoirs basically come down to the same thing: ‘So I said to him, “Leo! Don’t just do war! Do peace too!” ’ ” “Naturally, it’s one’s successes […]
Battle Wary
March 27th, 2017, 01:18 PM
The year 2017 is the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation. It is also the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge during the First World War. Celebrations and commemorations of both are rife this year, and it is difficult to say which is more important in the popular imagination. The two events are in […]
A Man of Our Time
March 27th, 2017, 01:18 PM
Is there more to say about Lawren Harris? One can be forgiven for saying no, as Harris has for decades been a steady source of lore for lovers of Canadian art: the pipe-smoking, tweed-clad scion of the crusty Harris clan (made rich through farm machinery manufacturing), majordomo of Toronto’s all-male Arts & Letters Club, patron […]
Outside Baseball
March 27th, 2017, 01:18 PM
“It’s baseball, Ray.” This quote from Field of Dreams is one of the all-time great pop-cultural koans, perhaps second only in cinematic history to “Forget it, Jake—it’s Chinatown.” As an explanation for the persistent tug of America’s pastime, the quote is both inadequate and perfect, as though nothing more need be said—though, of course, much […]
The Age of Offence
March 23rd, 2017, 01:18 PM
Among those invested in the notion that higher education is currently collapsing before our eyes, fewer pieces of evidence are proffered more frequently (or more uncritically) than the modern university’s supposed tendency to nurture and promote “offence taking” as a default attitude toward the world. Our universities, we are told, have discarded their traditional raison in […]
Pankaj Mishra on global rage, and the real culprit: modernity
March 15th, 2017, 01:18 PM
A new Pankaj Mishra book is always a publishing event. In critically acclaimed, best-selling works—most recently Temptations of the West, An End to Suffering and From the Ruins of Empire—the Indian essayist, author and public intellectual has offered thoughtful explorations of a globalizing India, the Buddha and contemporary spirituality, and western imperialism’s history in Asia. Mishra’s […]
The Grandest Wager
February 28th, 2017, 01:18 PM
Donald Trump kissed Vladimir Putin on the lips, at least in a Saturday Night Live skit in November. Whether romance or bromance, Trump’s embrace of the Russian leader looks to be especially tight. During the American presidential campaign, Putin could commit no hostile or dangerous act that Trump did not explain away. After November 8, the […]
On Manhood, Marriage and the “Neo-patriarchy”
February 28th, 2017, 01:18 PM
In his new book, The Unmade Bed: The Messy Truth about Men and Women in the 21st Century, Stephen Marche explores the current state of gender relations through a personal account of his nearly 20-year marriage—with footnotes from his wife, Sarah Fulford. A novelist (The Hunger of the Wolf) and a columnist for Esquire, his […]
What We Don’t Know
February 28th, 2017, 01:18 PM
Data is back in fashion in Ottawa. As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau brings back Laurier’s “sunny ways,” one of the promised effects will be to infuse light into the data dark age of the Harper government’s suppression of data and information. While the Harper government’s killing of the long-form census was its most obvious and […]