Literary Review of Canada January/February 2021

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

Marianne Ackerman watches from Montreal. Kelvin Browne is the executive director of the Gardiner Museum, in Toronto. Marlo Alexandra Burks is working on a book on the Austrian author Hugo von Hofmannsthal. Margaret Conrad wrote At the Ocean’s Edge: A History of Nova Scotia to Confederation. Susan Crean authored Finding Mr. Wong. Christopher Dummitt hosts the podcast 1867 & All That and teaches history at Trent University. Graham Fraser is a senior fellow at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa. John Fraser is the executive chair of the National NewsMedia Council. Keith Garebian wrote Mini Musings: Miniature Thoughts on Theatre and Poetry. J. L. Granatstein writes on Canadian political and military history Brett Josef Grubisic will publish his fifth novel, My Two-Faced Luck, in 2021. Michael Humeniuk daydreams in Toronto. Hattie Klotz is a writer,…

4 min
shot in the arm

IN TO-MORROW, DATED AUGUST 1803, THE Anglo-Irish writer Maria Edgeworth portrays a couple weighing the pros and cons of various preventive measures against smallpox. The wife, Lucy, wants to have her only son inoculated in the “common way,” by which she means variolation, a mild but (hopefully) preventive infection. Her husband, Basil, knows there’s something a little more cutting-edge out there: “I think we had better have him vaccined.” Edgeworth, a literary celebrity in her day, was writing just five years after Edward Jenner first described vaccination, in An Inquiry into the Causes and Effects of the Variolae Vaccinae, and the technique’s efficacy was still under review by the Royal College of Physicians. In her novella, she paints Basil as a learned man who keeps up with the papers, a man…

5 min

RE: This Is Not the End of the Story by Ian Waddell (December) IAN WADDELL ASSERTS THAT HIS STORY OF HOW Aboriginal rights were recognized in Canada’s new constitution “is not the end.” One of the reasons this may be true is that his telling of the story is so incomplete. For reasons that only he can explain, he ignores the influential — and decisive — role that Inuit leaders played in lobbying to get the Aboriginal rights clause into the first and then the final drafts of the patriation resolution. Even more strangely, when listing the members of his own caucus who were advocating for the clause’s inclusion (Jim Manley, Jim Fulton, himself), Waddell studiously ignores his colleague Peter Ittinuar, the first Inuk elected to Parliament and one of only two…

13 min
the magical history tour

John Lennon, Yoko Ono and the Year Canada Was Cool Greg Marquis James Lorimer & Company 248 pages, softcover and ebook CONCLUSIONS ABOUT BOOKS drawn from single sentences are reckless adventures, if you ask me. Words don’t operate fully as words except in the presence of other words. The same is true of sentences, which depend on context for their resonance. It is in the variations of their echoes that nuance is established. And nuance, as it turns out, is often what makes writing interesting. As a rule, things are not what they declare themselves to be between a capital letter and a full stop. The story is usually more complicated than that. Naturally, there are exceptions to this rule. There are sentences that, unassisted, provide readers with a good, solid sense of a…

1 min
and the danger ended —

we came out of our hiding places,the undershrub, old leaning fence,Mrs. Liebowitz’s shed, or the tire moundin the tangled ravine — and Mooney called ally-olly-incomfree again,so the youngest Dunphy would hear,wriggle out of the crack, smirking,and we’d wipe the weeds from our pantsand faces, sighing a deep heave that WE were not IT; my brother hadbeen tagged, and it was his turn tohide his eyes and count, and hunt, andsearch for the most exposed, the onewho couldn’t hide fast enough, orfind a place just right for a small body and the danger spiked again, electricin the spine-hair of fearthat we might be caught, be tagged, be the next IT—and some of us grabbed a youngster by the handto stuff them safe in a leaf pile, and some of uskicked the crab ladder off…

5 min
a maritime murder

Blood on the Water: A True Story of Revenge in the Maritimes Silver Donald Cameron Viking 256 pages, softcover, ebook, and audiobook WHEN PHILLIP BOUDREAU was murdered on June 1, 2013, by fishermen from Isle Madame, Nova Scotia, the crime generated a popular headline across the country and beyond: “Murder for Lobster!” A sensational story would always follow: a poacher caught raiding lobsters from other fishermen’s traps was shot at four times with a 30-30 rifle, his small speedboat rammed and run over, his body gaffed in the water and dragged out to more than twelve fathoms, where it was allegedly tied to an anchor and sent to the bottom of the sea. Boudreau’s body was never recovered, but there was enough evidence, including confessions, to bring charges against the crew of the Twin…