HOME  |  CONTACT US  |
 

Post Your Opinion
Editor's Note
by Olga Stein

Apart from death, what Tolstoy's "Death of Ivan Ilych", Joyce's "The Dead", and Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher" have in common is their visceral affect on the reader. In general, short stories have that poetic capacity to charge at the reader's emotions before engaging the intellect. A thoughtful inspection of any short story should lay open the author's handiwork¨the design, purposefulness of word choice, control of tempo, the artifice as such. But these tend to work behind the scenes. First we get an experience. The best short story writers leave us with an experience that is unforgettable. Tolstoy, Joyce and Poe do just that, though in every other respect their narratives are strikingly different. Even death visits each of the above-mentioned stories with a different purpose.
The short story and the short story cycle¨which according to Gerald Lynch (interviewed here by John Oughton) may actually be "the high point of Canadian fiction"¨continue to be a integral part of literary culture in Canada. In this issue we bring you the current crop with a view to showcasing a range of writers across Canada, from names we already know to those we're only beginning to hear about.

This year's Blue Metropolis Literary Festival in Montreal (April 2-6) was a well organized and enjoyable affair. I attended for the first time and was not disappointed. There were many lectures to choose from daily in English or French on a variety of subjects, as well as numerous work shops. Guest authors included Nicole Brossard, Chuck Barris, Danny LaferriFre, Douglas Coupland, Barbara Gowdy and John Ralston Saul to mention a mere handful. At the presentation of the Literary Grand Prix medal to Maryse CondT, Richard Philcox, Maryse CondT's translator (and husband), gave a thought-provoking speech on the work of translation. "It may be the greatest act of ventriloquism," he ventured. "But who is ultimately in control and who is the dummy, the translator or the author whose work is being translated?" He concluded with the admission that it is he "the while male, from a dominating culture who is being translated by a black female from a dominated culture. . .In the end, I'm the one being forced into a world which isn't mine¨the author has the last say¨I become the real dummy."
Douglas Coupland did what I suspect is his usual Vancouver beach boy routine opposite host Noah Richler. I gave Richler credit for keeping a straight and respectful face.
Ramona Koval hosted John Ralston Saul. Koval, an Australian radio personality, is charming and intelligent, but no intellectual. The pairing initially struck me as incongruous, but I soon realized that Koval's questions, despite their occasional naivetT, addressed as they were to a public philosopher who maintains that any important idea can be communicated to the sensible Everyman, aptly demonstrated a case in point. Ralston Saul spoke about the need for a language that can facilitate discourse between the intellectual and the public ("...need new language for instantly communicating ideas already intuited"); "Ethics," he remarked, "isn't thought¨it's natural."
"But then how do we know what's good?" asked Koval.
"We don't know how we know," replied John Ralston Saul in an easy-going way, "but we should avoid trying to mislead people through too much teaching." "Decency is spontaneous..." and yet "we have done just about everything in our society to marginalize decency¨you'd lose your job if you put ethics first."
With respect to globalization, his position is that "most of the clichTs of the last twenty-five years are on their way out." "We're coming around a corner¨into an era of positive and negative nationalism." "...the globalization trend has began to die." The authors whose books on globalization are examined in this issue would undoubtedly disagree.

Books in Canada welcomes new masthead members:
Brian Fawcett, Contributing Editor, is the author of Cambodia: A Book For People Who Find Television Too Slow, and Virtual Clearcut: The Way Things Are in My Home Town.
Andy Lamey, Advisory Editor, is a former books editor of the National Post, where he continues to write an arts column.
Rosemary Sullivan, Contributing Editor, is a poet, essayist, editor of numerous anthologies, and author of three biographies, including Shadow Maker: The Life of Gwendolyn MacEwen. Her most recent book, Labyrinth of Desire: Women, Passion and Romantic Obsession, was selected by Publishers Weekly as one of the best books of 2002.
Patrick Watson, Advisory Editor, is director, actor, and television host. He is Creative Director of the HISTORICA Foundation's media activities, including The Heritage Minutes, and Commissioning Editor for History Television.
Christopher Wiseman, Contributing Editor, started the Creative Writing program at the University of Calgary, where he taught English and poetry until taking early retirement. He has published eight books of poetry, a critical book, as well as editing various journals.
footer

Home First Novel Award Past Winners Subscription Back Issues Timescroll Advertizing Rates
Amazon.ca/Books in Canada Bestsellers List Books in Issue Books in Department About Us