Culture & Conversation

Posts by Kit Jenkin

Der fahrende Sänger (The Travelling Singer), by Friedrich von Keller (1840-1914)

Sketches of everyman

These are stories of guys who are crippled by drugs, who marry the wrong women, and who do not lead particularly noble, awful or even interesting lives. They are folks.

1963 film The Great Escape, courtesy of United Artists

Down the rabbit hole

Michael Paryla was found locked in his own apartment comatose from a mixture of milk, whiskey and sleeping pills. Now his distant cousin, Montreal-born Andrew Steinmetz, is trying to reconstruct his life.

Satisfying endings

If this sounds harsh, though, I only mean it to be in order to show how these stories eventually proved me wrong. Deeth’s endings are surprisingly satisfying.

Heavy meta

The distinction between form and content has wiggled its way into the literary discourse of almost every country. It is an interesting launching pad for ideas because it relies on a neat dichotomy. Form, as it goes, is the shape a piece of writing takes. A neat analogy would be a bottle. The bottle is the form. Whatever you pour into the bottle is content.

Canary in a coalmine

In issue 84 of Canadian Notes and Queries, Patricia Robinson addresses the literary trend of domestic realism in Canada. According to Robinson, our country suffers from a literary landscape that is overpopulated with stories (both short and long) of a certain readily recognizable type. They are stories that “have no resonance beyond the personal lives of their characters,” about people who “ruminate rather than act,” and focus largely on their sex lives, social missteps and sibling rivalries. Stories by Alice Munro and Norman Levine may immediately come to mind.

Ghostly Boy

While I was reading Shyam Selvadurai’s third novel, The Hungry Ghosts, I was reminded of the dictum of American novelist John Hawkes when he said that plot, theme, and character were enemies. Once they were gone, all that mattered was overall vision and structure. Hawke’s statements may be dated, but they still hold true.