I think it’s easy, for many of us, to take the July 1 holiday for granted. I mean, what better way to kick off the heights of summer than with a stat, right? Especially when that stat is on a Friday, so you’ve got a three-day weekend. Time you can spend grilling and sipping and hiking and gardening and swimming and generally playing in the sun (though, if you’re me, the long weekend seems, traditionally, to be one of cleaning and organizing and general housework, I’m not sure why).
Too often, though, the significance of July 1 is lost, or overlooked. It’s not just any holiday, it’s Canada Day, a chance to celebrate what it means to be Canadian.
This is not as easy as it appears. As Canadians, we tend not to go in for jingoism or fervent national pride. We’re well aware of our problem areas, our shadows. Sure, there are fireworks (literally, in some places), but we tend to be thoughtful about what Canada means, what Canada is.
The other thing we tend to do is celebrate year-round, in our own low-key way. Look at the arts. We’re talking about a nation unified in its support of Tragically Hip singer Gord Downie following the announcement of his cancer. And we’re a nation that regularly has writers appearing on the shortlists for international prizes.
But even that is somewhat ridiculous—we don’t need international recognition for our writers; we know Canada’s literature belongs on the world stage. It’s a given. More importantly, and crucially, we’re a nat …
In 2011, a group of Canadian writers declared the Year of the Short Story (YOSS), “to bring short fiction the larger audience it deserves.” In the years since, in notable short story developments, Alice Munro has been awarded the Nobel Prize and Lynn Coady won the Scotiabank-Giller Prize for her book, Hellgoing. So we decided that now would be a very good time to take stock, to check in with some fine writers across the country to find out where Canadian stories are at.
49thShelf: Does the short story still need defending? Championing? Does the short story even care?
Megan Coles: If the novel is CanLit King, then the short story is our second son; the sexy, irreverent Prince who is liable to get naked and fly fighter jets. Originality is always in need of defending as its merits aren’t readily understood and people are instinctively adverse to risk. The form is inherently daring and untamable. That’s what makes it so exciting and integral to innovative Canadian Literature. The short story is limitless: tight and expansive in the same breath, generous and ruthless in the same beat. The short story is its own champion. It can’t care in a pragmatic sense. Anxiety would inhibit which is totally counterintuitive to the form. Instead, the short story take …
We’re in the heart of it now—the fall new release season is upon us, new books swirling all around like leaves in a gale. Only the bravest can weather such times, the courageous independent booksellers who stand fast, ardently reading, as the autumn rages around them. Here are a few of their personal recommendations.
The Bookseller: Sue Saunderson, Blue Heron Books, Uxbridge, ON
The Pick: Mãn, by Kim Thuy
"Beautiful in its simplicity, and yet rich and lush in language ... perfect fulfillment, which is also the very definition of the Vietnamese word ‘mãn.'"
The Bookseller: Lindsay Williams from Galiano Island Books, Galiano Island, BC
The Pick: And the River Still Sings by Chris Czajkowski
"Chris Czajkowski has another treat for the BC Interest section of fine bookstores everywhere. Her wit, wonderful storytelling ability, and adventurous spirit reward the reader and make one's feet itchy to don hiking boots and hit the fresh air. And the River Still Sings is the perfect read for an autumn afternoon!"
The Bookseller: David Worsley, Words …