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.
This is one of the finest and most exciting collections of short fiction I have read this year. This is the start (hopefully) of a very long and impressive career. Keep this writer on your radar.
On Thursday, November 28, one of Canada’s most prestigious literary awards will be bestowed on 14 winners in 7 categories at a lavish ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa. The Governor General of Canada, David Johnston, will be presenting this year`s awards and the $25,000 purse to each of the winners.
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.
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.
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.