Literary Review of Canada December 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

1 min
our contributors

Katherine Ashenburg will publish a new novel, Her Turn, this coming year. Jennifer S. H. Brown is a professor emeritus of history at the University of Winnipeg. She lives in Denver. Kelvin Browne is the executive director of the Gardiner Museum, in Toronto. Dan Dunsky was executive producer of The Agenda with Steve Paikin, from 2006 to 2015, and is the founder of Dunsky Insight. Dan Falk is the author of The Science of Shakespeare and In Search of Time. Keith Garebian has published several books, most recently Mini Musings: Miniature Thoughts on Theatre and Poetry. Sheilla Jones writes about quantum physics and Indigenous politics in Canada. Gayatri Kumar lives and reads in Toronto. Geoff Martin was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for “Baked Clay,” an essay about Mennonite and Black land histories in rural Ontario. Magdalena Miłosz is…

4 min
the hole truth

IN HIS MONUMENTAL WORK, A DISPLAY OF Heraldry, first published in London in 1610, the antiquarian and officer of arms John Guillim wrote of a stone “that being once kindled and set on fire” will “never extinguish or goe out.” Such a stone possessed “admirable vertues … whereby strange and unwonted effects may be wrought.” Guillim thought this unusual rock, which he called asphestus, was to be found in Arcadia, that most pastoral of utopias. Had he lived another three hundred years or so, he would have learned that a lot of it was also to be found not far from Montreal, in the Eastern Townships. In 1879, a Welsh miner discovered what he thought was a small deposit of asbestos near Quebec’s Nicolet River. A few years later, an entrepreneurial…

8 min

RE: Bathroom Reading by Rose Hendrie (November) ROSE HENDRIE’S ESSAY ON ALL THINGS DEFECATORY is pretty astounding, but I wonder about one issue. She writes that flush toilets date back to the Romans 2,000 years ago. Maybe that was true for hoi polloi, but when I lived on Crete in the 1970s, it was drummed into me by local historians that there was a flush toilet in the queen’s quarters of the ancient Minoan palace of Knossos (1700 to 1400 BCE). John Bowman mentions it in The Travellers’ Guide to Crete, my bible for all things Cretan. Bronwyn DrainieToronto RE: Sales Report by Frances Bula (November) BRILLIANT TAKE ON THE REAL ESTATE ECONOMY that drives and wounds Vancouver. Frances Bula encapsulates history and clear-eyed critique and inside jokes in this book review. Who caused our pain?…

15 min
socially distant

Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas — only I don’t exactly know what they are!— Lewis Carroll IS FACEBOOK KILLING OUR DEMOCRATIC way of life? If you believe the headlines, it sure is. The Guardian calls the social media giant a “Digital Gangster Destroying Democracy.” The New Yorker asks, “Can Mark Zuckerberg Fix Facebook before It Breaks Democracy?” Even Al Jazeera wants to know, “Is Facebook Ruining the World?” There are literally scores of pieces on this question, reflecting the view that, in these anxious times, the sixteen-year-old platform is a decidedly unique threat. Three main arguments are commonly put forward to illustrate Facebook’s fecklessness: it is monopolistic, it runs roughshod over our privacy, and it is dangerously dividing people with its content, making it impossible to find the…

1 min

lately all these rows of teeth groom weavers’ workdown into the pavement of lines I godown I go through chutes, reflect self in windowscount how glass prints cloud and what obliteratesmeteorologically, all my feathers are metal, an internallightning rips the tower tipand elevators dive to basewhere at the waterfall face concrete is not so muchthe surface of a quarry same as what is under it Elee Kraljii Gardiner is the author of Trauma Head and serpentine loop. She also directs the Vancouver Manuscript Intensive.…

5 min
melting away

Watermelon Snow: Science, Art, and a Lone Polar Bear Lynne Quarmby McGill-Queen’s University Press 184 pages, hardcover and ebook LYNNE QUARMBY ALWAYS WANTED TO see the Arctic. “For much of my life,” she writes early in Watermelon Snow, “I yearned to visit the north of my imagination.” As a young girl whose great-grandfather was in the Klondike gold rush and whose father modelled an outdoorsy independence, she imagined “a romantic, ultimate wilderness of sublime landscapes.” At ten, she built a raft and tried to pole her way across a small pond, toward that wonderful place, only to have her vessel sink into the mud. Now, almost fifty years later, the cell biologist wishes she could tell her younger self that “one day I will travel to the far north on a beautiful ship.” Watermelon Snow…