Literary Review of Canada November 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
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10 Issues

in this issue

4 min
american judge

SEVENTY YEARS AGO, HEINRICH CRAMER sailed into New York Harbor aboard SS American Judge and passed the Statue of Liberty. The twenty-seven-year-old former soldier of a defeated army then spent five weeks in limbo, on Ellis Island, unsure if the United States would admit him. He spoke Low German, High German, and Russian, but not English, and he had very little money in his pocket. Finally, on November 24, 1950, the day after Thanksgiving, he left the storied immigration station, found lunch in Manhattan for a dollar, and set forth — now known as Henry — on his next chapter. For the better part of his life, Henry was a proud U.S. citizen who loved God and country only slightly more than he loved horses and a fresh loaf of rye…

4 min

RE: The Prognosis by David Cayley (October) PLEASE ACCEPT AND PASS ON TO DAVID CAYLEY MY admiration for “The Prognosis.” The point isn’t whether we should agree or disagree with some or all of the piece. It is to express satisfaction on finding a brave and reasonable and unfortunately rare commentary that offers a dissenting perspective on what has become, in many ways, a hysterical discourse. Linden MacIntyre Toronto RE: Thank You, Next by Joe Martin (October) JOE MARTIN’S ANGER IS PALPABLE. YET IT IS PROFOUNDLY misplaced. A peculiar history lesson on Conservative (and Liberal) prime ministers, ending in a bizarre jab at the late Pierre Trudeau, Martin’s argument that we must stick by leaders who do not deliver the instant gratification of winning has multiple flaws, most of which can be addressed by the rise…

15 min
there may yet be hope

Commanding Hope: The Power We Have to Renew a World in Peril Thomas Homer-Dixon Knopf Canada 464 pages, hardcover, ebook, and audiobook ON SEPTEMBER 12, 1961, A THIRTY-four-year-old activist from Connecticut named Stephanie May travelled to New York and began a hunger strike outside the Soviet mission on East Sixty-Seventh Street. Two police officers threatened to arrest her for vagrancy the moment she arrived; they agreed to let her stay only after she promised not to spend the night. For the next six days, May occupied the sidewalk from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., living on water and broth and feeling, as she later wrote, “absolutely invisible, except to little children instructed not to look, and to teenagers in parochial school uniforms who stole furtive glances and then giggled.” The resolute…

9 min
power down

Exit from Hegemony: The Unraveling of the American Global Order Alexander Cooley and Daniel Nexon Oxford University Press 304 pages, hardcover and ebook A HISTORY OF UNITED STATES hegemony — a term that international relations scholars use to describe consent-based world leadership — is a chronicle of a decline foretold. Consider the original Sputnik moment, in 1957; the breakup of the Bretton Woods system, in the early 1970s; the ignominious withdrawal from Vietnam, in 1975; and all those anxieties about an “emerging Japanese superstate” and “imperial overstretch.” Predictions of a “post-American world” have suffered few shortages, even as the United States has actually gone from strength to strength. The “unipolar moment” that followed the fall of the Berlin Wall certainly halted the prognostications of declinism, but only for a while. In December…

10 min
in the holy land

The Two-State Dilemma: A Game Theory Perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Michael Dan Barlow Books 264 pages, hardcover and ebook AS A LONG-TIME MIDDLE EAST CORRESPONDENT, I often speak to various interest groups in synagogues, mosques, churches, and elsewhere. Years ago, I liked to tell a tale of how difficult it was to find a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Three people — a Catholic Northern Irishman, a Black South African, and a Palestinian (or an Israeli, depending on the group) — were given a chance to visit heaven and ask God one question. The Catholic Irishman went first. He said that his people had been at war with the Protestants for most of a century, and there was no end in sight. “Will my people ever find peace?” he asked. “Yes, my son,”…

1 min
catacomb saint

did I mention it was raining when we left — the roof was battered, under siege,soaked, whipped, hammered — my shoes were wrecked into hash, my skindreadful to touch — did I tell you about the storm at all, did I admit I was,I am, afraid first the priest went by, holding a church, and then his brother, his nephew,his friend — the cycle of life and dead as a crumpled gold handkerchief—if I could paint, I would be a bit like that it was a day of rest, and the dog was charming — we were beautiful animalsthat day in the sun, blankets over our knees while our friends met onthe rooftop we had taken the night train — the old and dirty gods were packed intrunks — for hours you were…