Literary Review of Canada September 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

Stephen Abram is the executive director of the Federation of Ontario Public Libraries. John Allemang is a thirty-year veteran of the Globe and Mail. Paul W. Bennett has written ten books. His latest is The State of the System: A Reality Check on Canada’s Schools. Kelvin Browne is the executive director of the Gardiner Museum, in Toronto. John Fraser is the executive chair of the National News Media Council of Canada. Graham Fraser was Canada’s sixth commissioner of official languages. Mark Kingwell wrote Fail Better: Why Baseball Matters. Stephen Marche is a novelist, columnist, and, most recently, podcast host. Jean McNeil has authored fourteen books. Richard Moon is a distinguished law professor at the University of Windsor. Abi Morum will start university this fall. Amanda Perry teaches literature at Concordia University and Champlain College. Anna Porter is a former publisher and the…

4 min
what’s in a name?

THIS MONTH, BACK IN 1858, A FORTY-nine-year-old candidate for the U.S. Senate had to defend his position on racial justice, after a man approached him in a hotel lobby and asked, somewhat incredulously, “whether I was really in favor of producing a perfect equality between the negroes and white people.” That same day, on a public debate stage, the Republican nominee made his position clear: “I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races.” Many decades later, I was born in a city named after that politician, who would lose the Senate battle but go on to win the war. Locals are proud of Lincoln, with its imposing statue…

5 min

RE: Stitches (Poppy) by Grant Harder (June) WE LOVE THE MAGAZINE, BUT JUNE’S BLACK COVER, with stitches on an injured hand, is depressing. We keep that one face down on the coffee table. As nature photographers and filmmakers, we live in a world of colour or sometimes dramatic black and white landscapes, which can be very effective. But this shot is so gloomy, and seems to lack any purpose. John and Janet Foster Madoc, Ontario RE: Is This Thing On? by Beth Haddon (June) THE IDEA OF SEPARATING THE CBC’S NEWS RESOURces from all other programming goes back at least a quarter century. Its feasibility is nearing the end of its shelf life, and its potential may have even been an illusion this whole time. An all-news CBC hinges on the Mother Corp’s superior news-hunter abilities, something…

16 min
the passport

THE DOCUMENT IS ELEGANT. NO ONE can dispute that. The deep navy blue of its slightly pebbled cover, the understated gilt imprint of the royal arms of Canada, which somehow looks faded even when new—the passport is a classic. Its cover may be harder, more durable, the pages inside more decorated than when I was a boy, but, in the hand, its familiarity is heavy, anchoring. A passport is a little book printed for a single situation, the condition of being between countries. To hold it is to be going from home to elsewhere or from elsewhere to home. Over time, the booklet assumes the association of distance and belonging, of leaving and returning. This year that association, often subtle, like a half-remembered smell from childhood, clarified itself in the…

19 min

Think of the long trip home. / Should we have stayed at home and thought of here? /Where should we be today? / Is it right to be watching strangers in a play / in this strangest of theatres? —Elizabeth Bishop ON FEBRUARY 29, THE CALENDAR’S most elusive date, I arrived in São Paulo from my home in London. Although the morning was cool and overcast, emerging from the northern hemisphere winter into the subtropics felt like awakening from a cryogenic slumber. During the flight, I had watched Orion cartwheel across the sky as we journeyed down the Atlantic Ocean. I am a hardened traveller, but each time I fly I find it a miracle that we are able to propel ourselves through space with such velocity and relative safety. Also,…

1 min
plutonium valley

Alkali accrues in basins of abandonedbadlands.Pools of brine give way to splitting planesof hardened clay, replete with radial cracks.Brittle crystals beard thehardpan lakebeds.Legions of salt carve sharp but fragile lettersinto the weary earth.Ancient colonies of dormant halophileshuddle in the drained tributaries of Styx,alien archaea thriving on thin films of saline.Evaporated water leaves behindminerals too heavy tojoin the clouds.Golems hide underthe rubble of barren hillsides, glaring atmilitary personnel from the mirrorsof their dreams, sand lookingthrough sand. Ken Hunt is the author of, most recently, The Manhattan Project. He is also the founder of Spacecraft Press.…