Literary Review of Canada July/August 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

John Allemang is a thirty-year veteran of the Globe and Mail. He previously wrote about newsrooms past for the magazine. John Baglow reads and writes in Ottawa. Carol Bishop-Gwyn is the author of Art and Rivalry: The Marriage of Mary and Christopher Pratt. Laura Cameron is a writer, editor, and teacher in Toronto. Murray Campbell is a retired Globe and Mail columnist and reporter. Jeff Costen is an associate principal with Navigator Limited, in Toronto. Wade Davis is a cultural anthropologist, ethnobotanist, and photographer. His many books include Magdalena: River of Dreams. Pearl Eliadis practises law in Montreal. She is also an adjunct professor in the Max Bell School of Public Policy at McGill University. John Fraser wrote Stolen China and The Chinese: Portrait of a People. Allan Hepburn is the James McGill Professor of Twentieth-Century Literature at McGill…

4 min
nor any drop to drink

AFTER THE SWEDISH MYSTIC AND theologian Emanuel Swedenborg had visions of celestial worlds “in the universe beyond our solar system,” he wrote of an inhabited planet with a “trough that was supplied with water by a small ditch from a lake.” That was in 1758. More than a century later, in 1880, the British writer Percy Greg described an unnamed explorer who travelled to Mars aboard the Astronaut, which he stocked with “a supply of water sufficient to last for double the period which the voyage was expected to occupy.” The prudent measure would prove unnecessary, though, as he soon encountered alien seas of “greyish blue” and advanced infrastructure that supplied “water of extraordinary purity to a population of perhaps a quarter of a million.” In the twentieth century, Ray Bradbury…

5 min

RE: Results Driven by Alex Cyr (June) ALEX CYR REFERS TO “LELAND STANFORD (WHO founded the university that bears his name).” Leland Stanford indeed founded the university in question, but the name it bears is actually that of Leland Stanford Jr. — the founder’s only son. Nicholas Wickenden Edmonton RE: Queen of Queen’s by J. R. McConvey (June) THIS IS GREAT TO SEE! I WAS IN CAROLYN SMART’S class in fall 1997, and it was a great challenge to write, review, and edit new writing every week. Working as a tech writer now, I still use those critical thinking skills every day! @ianhakes via Twitter TRIBUTES LIKE THIS MAKE ME SO DAMN HAPPY. We don’t see them often enough, considering all the people doing good work in the world of Canadian writing. @roblucastaylor via Twitter SO GLAD THAT SOMEONE DID…

49 min
this is america

If America hasn’t broken your heart, then you don’t love her enough.— Cory Booker ONE OF THE JOYS OF LIVING in Washington, D.C., was the promise of spring days, with the cherry blossoms in bloom and friends arriving from out of town, all of them keen to experience the great monuments and sweeping vistas of the nation’s capital. Even the most jaded among them — modern architects, for example, who dismissed the entire city as a neoclassical theme park — could not mask their emotions when standing in the historic shadow of Martin Luther King, pausing on the stone steps that overlook the still waters of the Reflecting Pool, or staring at a black granite wall, polished to a mirror finish, as aging vets and heartbroken mothers reached out to touch…

1 min

Like blackflies — so precise it’s nearly painless until fingerscome away with filigrees of blood. Our breath’s chemical lurelasts just long enough, edged off tangling breeze. Nightfinds me blank, worn from crags, the spirals and false startsof goat trails, heat stroke, tongue numb via sapling chemicalsor Deet, trench foot. One site over, tarpaulins and tiny laundryon bungee cords; children inside the bush’s branched umbrellapick and scarf boysenberries, stain themselves but leave no traceof sweetness. A spot for the tent between RVs and minivans,sheltered by maple husks. Pitch still-damp, wake wet to teardown; surrealist earwig hordes spilling out the pole sleeves.Elfin larches, show us what you’re made of while we observea maddening itch and a rash of pollen coasts above gorseand meadow. Afternoon’s a tumble dry cycle, do youunderstand the distinction? The…

13 min
requiem for a european

THE IMMIGRATION HALL AT HEATHROW Terminal 5 is hyper-lit, with 2001: A Space Odyssey oblong lights that blare down from the ceiling. My flight lands early, just after the 6 a.m. threshold the airport maintains to reduce night noise, but already hundreds of people are stacked up in snaking queues, bleary-eyed, muffled in masks. It is the last day of January 2021 and my first time arriving home to London after Brexit. At the U.K. Border, as British immigration is now branded, nothing obvious has changed. There are two areas: to the left, passports from the United Kingdom, the EU, the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea; and to the right, “All Other Passports.” A serried rank of e-gates stand mute, cordoned off in red tape. The pandemic,…