Summer of the Canadian Short Story Reading

Write Reads is hosting this event, which runs from June 1 – September 1, 2014.

Summer Canadian Story 2014I learned about it last week via Consumed by Ink, and how could I resist: two of my favourite things, Canlit and short stories.

But the act of choosing is almost overwhelming. And of course there’s always the possibility of a theme within a theme. Haven’t I been meaning to focus on my own shelves, not the library’s new and shiny shelves? To read more Quebecois writers?

Rereading favourites? Single-author immersion projects? How about 2014 publications? Classics? Anthologies? Prizewinners? Genres? Linked collections? The Oberon series? The Journey Prize? New Canadian Library editions?

I’m nearly paralyzed by the act of narrowing a list, so I’ve resorted to CBC’s recent compilation of the 100 Best Canadian Songs Ever to calm my nerves.

With the likes of “Patio Lanterns” and “Sweet City Woman” playing, the reading hours appear to be endless ahead. And I can break this large problem into smaller portions. Beginning with a beginning.

Here’s what I read in June, before I realized there was a challenge:

Already in play for July:

  • Gilles Archambault’s In a Minor Key (Trans. David Lobdell)
  • Alice Munro’s The View from Castle Rock (a reread)

Paradise Elsewhere PageIn a Minor Key won the Governor General’s Award in 1987 for French-language Fiction. The stories are flash fiction, written before the term was commonly used, only a few sentences but very evocative.

The View from Castle Rock is the second-last in my Alice Munro project, which I began in 2011 and which involved a lot of rereading and two fresh reads, including 2012’s Dear Life. It’s not a collection of hers that I have considered a true favourite, but that might change with a reread.

Likely choices for July and August, because they are already lurking near the tops of the “next” stacks:

  • Kathy Page’s Paradise and Elsewhere (with blurbs by Amy Bloom, Sarah Waters, Caroline Adderson and Barbara Gowdy)
  • Mary Soderstrom’s Desire Lines (which comes in one of those beautiful Oberon Press packages)
  • Rabindranath Maharaj’s The Book of Ifs and Buts (because I adored The Amazing Absorbing Boy)
  • Lisa Bird-Wilson’s Just Pretending (great interview here)

Just Pretending Lisa Bird WilsonIn the Wings:

  • Douglas Glover’s Savage Love (longlisted for the Frank O’Connor award, along with Kathy Page and some of my faves from last year by Shaena Lambert, Susie Moloney, Cynthia Flood and Rosemary Nixon)
  • Lorna Goodison’s By Love Possessed (which I started last year and lost track of)
  • Austin Clarke’s Choosing His Coffin (because More was very good and I haven’t read another of his yet)
  • Rohinton Mistry’s Tales from Firozsha Baag (a reread)
  • Clark Blaise’s A North American Education (I’ve wanted to read something else, since I discovered The Meagre Tarmac on the 2011 Giller list)

Come on, why not join Write Reads in reading some Canadian short fiction this summer?



  1. Naomi MacKinnon July 20, 2014 at 6:17 pm - Reply

    I’m so glad you joined in! Looking forward to hearing about the books you choose. There are just so many!

    • Buried In Print August 8, 2014 at 5:37 pm - Reply

      I really enjoyed both the Soderstrom and the Page collections, and I am into Just Pretending now. Maybe I’ll still get to another one this month, but there are a lot of novels tempting me these days too. How are you enjoying your choices?

  2. Karen - Booker Talk July 18, 2014 at 1:03 am - Reply

    having too many choices is a feeling I know only too well. sounds like you have a fun few months ahead of you whatever you decide.

    • Buried In Print July 18, 2014 at 10:32 am - Reply

      I know you understand that completely! So often it comes down to selecting a match in the moment when one is in a particular reading mood.

  3. Whispering Gums July 17, 2014 at 5:17 pm - Reply

    Yes, I think short stories are good for travelling … thought I find my reading when travelling is very sporadic. I often can’t settle when I’m in a new place. Our travelling is usually not resting but sightseeing, visiting museums, walking etc. I’m usually either over-stimulated or exhausted! So, it take my kindle and sometimes barely open it.

    I have read the first story in Circus and like it .. It’s a nicely produced paperback too!

    I try to read short stories …. One a day over breakfast but this will often get interrupted by other stuff!!

  4. Whispering Gums July 17, 2014 at 6:57 am - Reply

    Funnily enough, I have just started reading a book of Canadian short stories, Circus by Claire Battershill … But I’ll be travelling quite a bit and leaving the book at home so I’ve realised that I’ll probably want to start again when I can put effort into it.

    • Buried In Print July 17, 2014 at 9:56 am - Reply

      That’s one I really want to read too. I’ve heard good things. Travelling seems to lend itself to short fiction in some ways, but I don’t do well with stories when I’m on the move. Only when they are a regular part of daily routine do I move methodically through collections. Maybe I’m just not an on-the-fly reader.

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