Literary Review of Canada July/August 2020

Where the country’s best writers, thinkers, and artists come to take a stand on the topics that matter most. An unrivalled source of long-form reviews and commentary.

Literary Review of Canada
$8.35(Incl. tax)
$58.80(Incl. tax)
10 Issues

in this issue

1 min
our contributors

John Baglow reads and writes in Ottawa. Morgan Campbell spent eighteen years with the Toronto Star. He’s now at work on his first book. Barry Jordan Chong lives and writes in Toronto. Rob Csernyik, a freelance journalist in Saint John, edits the website Great Canadian Longform. Dan Dunsky was executive producer of The Agenda with Steve Paikin, from 2006 to 2015, and is the founder of Dunsky Insight. Sheree Fitchw just published Summer Feet, with the illustrator Carolyn Fisher. J. L. Granatstein writes on Canadian political and military history. Brendan Howley recently co-founded Hume. works. Michael Humeniuk waits tables when restaurants are open. Gregory P. Marchildon is a professor of public policy at the University of Toronto. Mark Nkalubo Nabeta is a son, brother, and freelance brand strategist in Toronto. Amanda Perry teaches literature at Concordia University and Champlain College-Saint Lambert. Laura…

3 min
summer school

TWO SUMMERS AGO, I DROVE TO Utica, New York, for my favourite road race. As I was picking up my bib, I happened to meet one of my heroes, the four-time Boston Marathon champion Bill Rodgers. He noticed the Capricorn tattoo on my right arm and fancied a chat. I couldn’t believe my luck—Boston Billy is also a Capricorn. When Rodgers learned I had come down from Toronto, the conversation took a turn. All he wanted to talk about was Tom Longboat. Born in 1887, the Onondaga runner from Six Nations of the Grand River, in Ontario, was a dominant force in athletics. He was virtually untouchable between 1906 and 1912, winning major races throughout Canada and the United States and setting numerous national and world records in the process. Before…

6 min
false notions

THE FIRST TIME A COP CAR STOPPED ME, I was living near York University. As I jogged down Gosford Boulevard, two police officers pulled alongside to “have a chat,” because I was clearly “new to the area.” Years later I moved to Summerhill, where I’d run along the quiet, lush streets of midtown Toronto. One of my favourite routes brought me from Yonge Street to Avenue Road, where I tackled that infamous uphill stretch along De La Salle College. One day, a woman flagged me down from her porch, asking where I lived and why I ran past her house so often. She wasn’t asking so she could welcome me to the neighbourhood. In 2018, around this time of year, I was in great shape and training for a half-marathon. On…

7 min
under the guise of research

How to Argue with a Racist: What Our Genes Do (and Don’t) Say about Human Difference Adam Rutherford The Experiment 224 pages, hardcover and ebook Altered Inheritance: CRISPR and the Ethics of Human Genome Editing Françoise Baylis Harvard University Press 304 pages, hardcover SINCE AT LEAST THE 1605 PUBLICATION of Francis Bacon’s The Advancement of Learning, scientific curiosity has been regarded as a positive emotion. But there are obvious downsides. While “curiosity-driven research” or “pure science” may sound abstract and detached from the so-called real world, it tends to find application down the road. It’s what led to the atomic bomb, grotesque wartime medical experiments, and, closer to home, horrific nutritional tests in residential schools. Whether positively or negatively directed, curiosity is inextricably bound up in the social and even the political. The field of genetics is a clear…

8 min
an act of protest

The Skin We’re In: A Year of Resistance and Power Desmond Cole Doubleday Canada 256 pages, hardcover, ebook, and audiobook AROUND THE TIME HE DEPARTED THE Toronto Star in May 2017, leaving behind a column that brought him a wide audience if not big money, Desmond Cole was pressed to confront a question: Was he a journalist or an activist? To the people who doubted Cole’s fitness to write for the Star, those roles were distinct and incompatible. An activist takes a position, while a journalist weighs all sides and seeks the truth somewhere in the middle. The latter definition, which assumes that everyone operates in good faith and that no one is flat-out wrong, has been proven inadequate in today’s media environment. For one thing, it can’t deal with the lopsided polarization that…

4 min
waiting on tables

SERVING CAN BE AN UNDIGNIFIED JOB with little growth and long hours. It’s often a starting point for new immigrants, the maintenance income for drug addicts, the side gig for theatre kids, or the penultimate option for the failed and depressed. The day you start serving, you can see the “Dead End” sign on the faces of your new co-workers. But serving can also be one of the best jobs for the unskilled and the overeducated. No matter your situation, it’s reliably there. At least that’s what we thought. In 1999, The New Yorker published a little-known writer whose most recent culinary failure had inspired him to become “a traitor to my profession.” He described restaurants and the practices that servers see but always try to hide from their tables. His…