Salon Des Refusés

Serenissima

Ray Smith

Serene was she as she stepped from the foam of her bath onto the sea shell patterned tiles, but then Gwen felt again the switch in her side which she took as a threat, a foreboding.  Something was going wrong, something subtle and complex, beyond the skills of doctors.
What fools men are, with their logic [...]

Tweaking the Beak: An Introduction to the CNQ/TNQ Salon Des Refuses

Daniel Wells

After all, what this Salon is about above all else is the celebration of 20 of the best short story writers in the country, a celebration of the richness of a form many who read both journals have grown to love. As Jane Urquhart rightly points out, the past forty years “have witnessed the publication of a staggering amount of fine literary work,” especially in the realm of the short story. It is also true that some of these did find their way into Urquhart’s selection: after all, the book is more than 700 pages and 69 entries (though not necessarily stories: more on this later). But it is also true that many of the most talented, most celebrated, most technically virtuosic, most wildly inventive, have not made the Penguin cut. Had they, there would not have been a need for this Salon des Refuses. Which means that this is, in the first instance, at least, a reactionary gesture.

The Canadian Short Story: A Ballad in Minor Chords

Michael Darling

Alas, yes. So many Canadian stories, so much pain, loss, unrealized ambition, unrequited love, the tragic deaths of beloved pets . . . . After wallowing in The Penguin Book of Canadian Short Stories, edited by Jane Urquhart, I want to go upstairs to my room with a length of rope, a revolver, and a bottle of sleeping pills, hoping one of the three will do the trick. Quoting Frank O’Connor in her introduction, Urquhart suggests that a characteristic of the short story is its “‘intense awareness of human loneliness.’” To be sure, loneliness has been a staple of short fiction from Chekhov to Cheever, but, not satisfied with mere loneliness, Canadian authors prefer a good heartrending sob.

The Imprint of Foxes: Notes on Reclaiming an Anthology of the Heart

Adrian Michael Kelly

When he was an undergraduate at Cambridge University in the early 1950s, the poet Ted Hughes had a life-reclaiming dream. For two years he had been reading English Literature, or wearing what he would later call the straitjacket of the English Tripos as they had been reformed by F. R. Leavis.1
Weekly essays were required of [...]

CNQ Profile: Rebecca Rosenblum

Rebecca Rosenblum

I was born in 1978, and grew up in Mount Hope, Ontario, a tiny town outside of Hamilton. Mount Hope is close enough to Hamilton that it never grew much on its own — there’s a school, a post office, a library, churches, a Chinese restaurant, and that’s about it. Our house was out of [...]

The Words

Rebecca Rosenblum

Colleen
Colleen shuffled the God pamphlets in her lap while Mr. Andrews chalked square yellow letters on the board.  Boring. The white-paper one was cheaply printed: the yellows did not line up with the reds or blues, so Jesus was all halo, no body. Inside was just a boring list of Sunday school and Bible-study classes. [...]

Consumer Unfriendly?

Steven W. Beattie

On the decline of the short story, with reviews of Dance of the Suitors by J.M. Villaverde (Oberon Press, 2006, 135 pages, $18.95) and The Withdrawal Method by Pasha Malla (House of Anansi Press, 2008, 256 pages, $29.95).
[T]he short story is a prose piece that is not a mere concatenation of events, as in a [...]

Thinking About Penguins

John Metcalf

When the Penguin Group decided on publishing the Penguin Book of Irish Fiction they entrusted the task of selection to Colm Toíbín. Toíbín is a fine stylist, author of the novels The Blackwater Lightship, The Story of the Night, The Heather Blazing, and The Master, and of a short story collection Mothers and Sons. The Times (U.K.) described him as a leading figure of European literature.

Weighing the Novella

Ingrid Ruthig

The Porcupine’s Quill and Toronto’s fledgling Quattro Books have both recently released books that brazenly proclaim their status as ‘novella,’ a form of fiction that John Metcalf describes in An Aesthetic Underground as “dense and rich as Christmas puddings.” If lasting satisfaction is in the meat, not the fat, then a novella with substance will outweigh the perversely emaciated offerings of a blockbuster behemoth.