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

“The Bear Came Over the Mountain” Alice Munro

A good ways into the story, readers meet this proclamation: “You never quite knew how such things would turn out. You almost knew, but you could never be sure.”

It is perhaps as true about “The Bear Came Over the Mountain” as it is about Grant’s predictions about his relationships with women.

But this story […]

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“Queenie” Alice Munro

Unsurprisingly, a story named for a main character is going to be preoccupied with names and identity.

It’s also the first thing readers observe Queenie saying to Chrissy, when she arrives in Toronto and is met at Union Station.

Her husband thinks it sounds like an animal’s name, so Chrissy is asked not to […]

“What Is Remembered” Alice Munro

It’s inescapable, this sense of “What Is Remembered” being an alternate version of “Tricks”. (If you want to avoid general spoilers, best not to click on that link, for you will intuit the sort of ending which that story has and thus the contrasting tone herein.)

Once again, our narrator is reflecting upon the events of the […]

“Post and Beam” Alice Munro

The details in “Post and Bean” matter. The specific itty-bitty matters of surprising consequence. Not necessarily what one sees at first glance, but what one uncovers, what the broader whole can be understood to mean.

Take the group of people in the church office. At first, a stranger to the office might think, “Oh, what […]

“Nettles” Alice Munro

Sometimes, when I begin reading an Alice Munro story, I am overwhelmed by a sense of “there it is”. It’s a feeling of immediate and undeniable recognition of familiar elements.

Like the beginning of “Nettles”, which begins with firmly rooting the reader in a time and place.

It is summer. It is 1979. The narrator […]

“Comfort” Alice Munro

While Nina was playing tennis, Lewis was killing himself. Readers learn this at the outset. Nina played; Lewis died.

Back and forth across the net, Nina volleyed and returned serves; Lewis plunged downward into first unconsciousness, then…

Into, what?

As a science teacher, who insisted that evolution be taught in classrooms despite creationists’ objections, Lewis […]

Emerging and Established: The Journey Prize Stories 26 and Margaret Atwood

Just as the jury enjoyed reading the stories submitted for tthe 2014 Journey Prize, other readers can also value the “exposure to a new generation of writers who are extending the tradition of Canadian short fiction well into the twenty-first century”.

McClelland & Stewart, 2014.

Edited by Steven W. Beattie, Craig Davidson and Saleema […]

Mireille Silcoff’s Chez L’Arabe (2014)

Weeks after reading these stories, a glance at the table of contents brings back their characters and arcs in a moment. (With “Flower Watching” and “Eskimos” I also required the aid of the characters’ names I’d noted.”)

These stories stood out, not only as independent narratives but, simultaneously, for the connections between them; as with […]

February 2015: In My Stacks

No matter how dilgent one has been with one’s read-o-lutions, February is not the shortest month but the longest test.

If it had a chapter heading? In which all your good bookish intentions will flake away like paper splinters from the spine of a well-loved paperback.

And, yet, my February reading, one week in, remains in concert […]

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 […]