Reviews

Lascaux Bull: On Savage Liberations and Their Tamings

Mike Barnes

When did the visual arts become so encrusted with words? Not just the decent apparatus of a label with notes on artist and artwork, or the more expansive catalogue essay, or even the occasional book celebrating an artist or exploring a scene or movement – but this whole dense verbal screen, like a mass of [...]

The Chivalric Pornographer: Review of Russell Smith’s Girl Crazy

Jeet Heer

When I was younger I used to spend an inordinate amount of time hanging out with strippers. The circumstances behind this were more benign, or at least more complex, than you might guess. Fresh out of university I worked for several years as a factotum for an immigration lawyer, who for the sake of discretion [...]

True Dat

Nathan Whitlock

Review of Alice Munro’s Too Much Happiness
To say that a given novelist or short story writer’s work is full of “truth” is to risk relinquishing all credibility as a critic or reviewer and to join the ranks of the professionally enthusiastic and unfailingly uncontroversial book talkers who clog most weekend book review sections and lit-themed [...]

Carpetbaggers

Jeet Heer

I’ll freely admit that prior to reading Leon Rooke’s The Last Shot, I was intensely prejudiced against pastiches.

Speculative Simultaneouel

Steven W. Beattie

Margaret Atwood doesn’t like hearing her novels called science fiction. . . . [But] her brusque dismissal of the term science fiction to describe the results seems odd, especially when seen in light of her remarks about another, earlier book, one which was hugely influential on both Oryx and Crake and its follow-up, 2009’s The Year of the Flood: H.G. Wells’s 1896 novel The Island of Doctor Moreau.

The Green Woman vs A Little Spot of Grease

Catherine Owen

Repose
Adam Getty
Nightwood Editions, 2008
88 pages, $16.95
The Mechanical Bird
Asa Boxer
Véhicule Press, 2007
78 pages, $16.00
Gwendolyn MacEwen famously wrote that “Poetry has got nothing to do with poetry. Poetry is how the air goes green before thunder, is the sound you make when you come and why you live and how you bleed and the sound you make [...]

Highbrow Harlequin

Nathan Whitlock

February
Lisa Moore
House of Anansi Press, 2009
hardcover, 320 pages, $29.95
“Without the reflection of characters scarred by traumatic events, such as war, depression, natural disasters and genocide, to name a few, Canadian literature would lose its essence, not to mention its most celebrated authors.”
That is one of the more harsh and sweeping (not to mention deadly funny [...]

Aristotle Among the Barbarians

Patricia Robertson

The Golden Mean
Annabel Lyon
Random House Canada, 2009
hardcover, 304 pages, $32.95
The Golden Mean is that rarest of beasts – a wonderfully controlled first novel that isn’t the usual autobiographical bildungsroman. In its subject matter (Aristotle and his most famous pupil, the young Alexander the Great) and its unashamed grappling with ideas, it’s also more European than [...]

McCartney Sings the Blues

Shane Neilson

Sharon McCartney writes about relationships, almost always in terms of loss, and her first book’s epigraph from Frost (“Here are your waters and your watering place/ Drink and be whole again beyond confusion”) is an articulation of her method. The book begins by tracing a genealogy of knowing, with the poet describing herself as a fetus, a something that is “nothing yet.”

Editor’s Pick: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

John Metcalf

The following quotation is taken from the book’s climactic scene. Blomkvist, the hero, has been captured by the Villain, Martin Vanger, serial killer. Blomkvist is manacled in the theatre of operations in the basement and is about to be buggered before the slicing and dicing proper begin. The Heroine, Salander, has climbed into the house and on her way down to the basement has armed herself with a golf club. She swings and breaks the Villain’s collarbone.