By Ear, By Eye, By Heart: An Anatomy of John Metcalf’s Recent Fiction

Kim Jernigan

It seems churlish to complain that there is anything insufficient about John Metcalf’s literary output. (It seems especially churlish to complain in the industrial language of output and production, language that would, or so I imagine, make him bridle.) His is, in fact, one of the most productive literary endeavors going, and he continues at [...]


Brian Busby

Nineteen-sixty-eight was a very bleak year in Canadian literature; or so Hugh Garner would have me believe. The grizzled veteran of the Spanish Civil War and cheap paperback publishers despaired for its future, taking shots at young writers for having no idea how to put together a “classic short story – or any short story [...]

A New Tradition: On the Afterlife of Jazz

Paul Wells

Apparently whenever jazz writers gather, they spend much of their time reassuring themselves that jazz isn’t dead. At the end of 2012 the New York Times jazz writer Nate Chinen convened a critics’ email round table for his blog, The Gig. The sum of their efforts suggests one of the music’s hottest sounds is that [...]

School is no Place for a Reader

Jennifer A. Franssen

A perplexing fate awaits a reader in an elementary school. There is no place for this strange child in classroom, library or playground. Watching my daughter caught in this predicament I find myself troubled by the paradox of an institution charged with teaching children to read that seems unable to offer either welcome or nourishment [...]

Interview with Michael Schmidt

Evan Jones

Michael Schmidt, O.B.E, F.R.S.L., was born in Mexico in 1947. He studied at Harvard and at Wadham College, Oxford. He is Professor of Poetry at Glasgow University, where he is convenor of the Creative Writing programme. Founder (1969) and editorial and managing director of Carcanet Press Limited, and a founder (1972) and general editor of [...]

“I’m Trying to Explain Something That Can’t Be Explained”: on Bob Dylan and Big-Ass Truth

Lewis MacLeod

Q: “How many indie hipsters does it take to screw in a lightbulb?”
A: “It’s a very obscure number; you’ve probably never heard of it.”
There’s a passage near the end of Bob Dylan’s Chronicles in which Dylan and Dave Van Ronk get in a little snit about the merits of Robert Johnson. The young Dylan is [...]

Library and Archives Canada: History and the Realpolitik

Nigel Beale

I went to Library and Archives Canada recently to do some research. Entering the building on Wellington Street in downtown Ottawa I was struck by how Soviet-like the place looked. Devoid of colour and joy, it seemed dead; absent of people, books, life; the grim closets that pass for exhibition space lay bare – three [...]

Response 2: It’s a Big, Big, Big, Big, Big Book’s World

Finn Harvor

It is a bizarre fact of English Canadian letters that it has produced so few social novels of the sort one finds in British or American literature. Whether this is a result of the prejudices of publishers, the superseding interests of writers themselves, a post-colonial culture lacking the self-confidence to produce work that would stand [...]

Response 3: Duvets and Demons

Mike Barnes

Shreds of a novel outline: Edward and Jasmine, attractive cosmopolites, youngish, bright, socially aware (if not quite engaged), committed partners but with something unfulfilled – stillborn whisperings – troubling their union. Edward, an out-of-work physicist (funding for the Texas Super Collider he was helping to build has collapsed), joins an international team investigating the lapses, [...]

Norman Levine At McGill University, 1946-1949

Robert H. Michel

“I had quite a good time at McGill.”1
Norman Levine’s stories stay with you after you close the book.2 In 1980, interviewer Wayne Grady suggested that Levine’s stories were like line drawings rather than whole canvasses, with “a touch here and there to suggest the whole picture.” Levine replied, “You don’t have to eat the whole [...]