Open a book this minute and start reading. Don’t move until you’ve reached page fifty. Until you’ve buried your thoughts in print. Cover yourself with words. Wash yourself away. Dissolve. Carol Shields Republic of Love

Quarterly Stories: Winter 2014

An excess of short stories in the later part of this year has led to a decision to return to the habit of more often devoting entire posts to collections rather than covering a variety in a single pass (last seen in Quarterly Stories: Autumn 2014)

Algonquin Books, 2014

Some of my favourite books […]

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Diane Cook’s Man V. Nature (2014)

As readers will guess from the title, Diane Cook’s collection of stories has an archetypal reach.

HarperCollins, 2014

These are stories that one can imagine discussing at length in creative writing classes, stories that could nestle into the curricula of English courses which study contemporary American fiction.

But there is no nestling in these stories; […]

84: Best Canadian Stories (Edited by David Helwig and Sandra Martin)

These stories were chosen “to be read rather than merely admired, or even envied”, including five previously unpublished stories. Thirty years later, the list of contents conjures up echoes of the Giller Prize, Canada Reads, and even a Pulitzer.

Frances Itani’s “Grandmother” “And she has long known what the rest of us take the better […]

Quarterly Stories: Summer 2014

Coming Home: Stories from the Northwest Territories (Enfield & Wizenty, 2012)

In the foreword, Richard Van Camp writes that this collection is a “testament to the beauty of the land, the communities and the people who choose to live here” and he welcomes readers to the works. The same words might be used as plumpy jacket […]

“Powers” Alice Munro

Runaway readers cannot run away from the book after turning the final page. Instead, they have to burrow in.

Much like “Vandals” in 1994’s Open Secrets and the title story in 2012’s Dear Life, “Powers” is one of those closing stories that sends readers rushing back to the beginning.

McClelland […]

“Tricks” Alice Munro

McClelland & Stewart, 2004

This story has long been my favourite in this collection, although I could not recall which of them it was, when I first approached my reread of Runaway.

When Stratford appeared in the first story, I thought maybe my favourite was coming. But, no, “Runaway” was pure sorrow. There was […]

“Trespasses” Alice Munro

McClelland & Stewart, 2004

‘Trespass’ is a word that I associate with childhood more than most.

It slipped off my tongue every morning in school, after we sang “O Canada”, in a dutiful recitation of “The Lord’s Prayer”.

And there was always a sign warning against it when we explored the ravines and fields […]

“Passion” Alice Munro

Like Alva in “Sunday Afternoons” and Edie in “How I Met My Husband”, Grace is a young woman with a summer job.

But even within the context of this transitory existence and experience, she settles into a routine, steadfast and predictable.

McClelland & Stewart, 2004

Soon, Grace is […]

“Silence” Alice Munro

In the story, it is Joan who prolongs the name “with a certain tone of celebration”.

Penelope.

But it’s easy to imagine that it is actually Alice Munro who is savouring every syllable as she draws it out in ink.

Pen-ell-oh-pee.

You can imagine her there, […]

“Soon” Alice Munro

Readers who were left with an abundance of questions after reading “Chance” might turn to “Soon” believing that some will be answered.

McClelland & Stewart, 2004

But Juliet’s reappearance holds no promises of resolution; there are just as many new musings unaddressed.

Most prominent are the questions outwardly posed at […]