The Writers of Montreal

by Elaine Kaufman-Naves, Elaine K. Naves, Elaine Kalman Naves
192 pages,
ISBN: 1550650459

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by Eva Tihanyi

FOR ANYONE unfamiliar with the array of authors, both French and English, who have graced Montreal`s literary scene, the 30 short biographical essays written and collected by Elaine Kalman Naves in The Writers of Montreal (Vehicule, 192 pages, $14.95 paper) provide a quick, easy-to-read introduction. All the expected familiar names are here -- Layton, Dudek, Scott, Richler, Cohen, Klein, MacLennan, Hood, Gallant, Blais, Tremblay, Carrier, and Brossard, to list only a few. Many more who met the inclusion criteria ("excellence in writing, a physical connection to the city, and some links with it in subject matter as well") were left out, including writers under 45. Presumably, these exclusions were due solely to space restrictions and might be redressed in a future volume. The profiles were originally commissioned as columns for the Montreal Gazette, and style and format are the same for each: a brief biography of the author highlighting only the most important books and events of his or her career, followed by an even briefer excerpt from one of the author`s works. Unfortunately, the bare bones of a life do not a body make, and as Naves herself admits, "these profiles really only scratch the surface." However, they do indeed "stimulate further interest in the city`s writers and their writings," as Naves intended.

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