Summary of How To Write About Literature

True to the lessons held within this book, author Kelley Griffith Jr. tells us with simple clarity right up front in the preface that “essays about literature are almost always arguments and, as such, must persuade an audience.” This is the overriding principle of Writing Essays about Literature, A guide and style sheet. The book is broken into two main sections. The first deals with the analysis of literature, including parts on how to generate essay topics about fiction, drama, and poetry, the variety of specialized approaches to interpreting literature, and how to evaluate the quality of literature. The second deals with the mechanics of writing about literature – how… Read More

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Book Review: Revolutions, Essays on Contemporary Canadian Fiction, by Alex Good

There are two premises to this book of essays: first, crudely put, no-one gives a shit about Canadian novels, and second, they’re no good anyway. Now that I think about it, there’s a third, and it’s the most problematic: the reason Canadian fiction is no good is that a range of spent old volcanoes has had undue influence over subsequent generations of Canadian writers, almost all of whom expend their energies copying a tired, boring style in an effort to win the Giller Prize. Pretty grim sounding isn’t it. With essay titles such as ‘Shackled to a Corpse,’ ‘Killing the Beaver’ and ‘Filling the Lifeboats,’ you might think you’re in… Read More

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On George Murray’s poem “Hunter”

First appeared in ARC Poetry Magazine In great poems, chosen words combine in ways which confer unique meaning memorably with resonance and power. The scent they produce infiltrates the mind, like body chemistry. I have good chemistry with this poem. This poem starts with a blow which jolts the reader urgently from peace to panic. It is delivered by a narrator who says ominously ‘hush, this lion sleeps tonight.’ The wind no longer blows. A sombre, yet tense, insistent tone is set. The reader’s attention is dramatically gained; the opening is intriguing. Why the frozen stillness? In great poems, chosen words combine in ways which confer unique meaning memorably with… Read More

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Book Review: Landscape in Concrete by Jakov Lind

First appeared in Three Percent We meet a familiar angst-ridden Russian early in the pages of Jakov Lind’s novel Landscape in Concrete: Dostoevsky’s Underground man surfaces in the guise of Gauthier Bachmann to here tread the desolate earth of the Ardennes during WW ll. No longer confined by inertia to his wretched little room, this protagonist is on the road — a bleak, inhuman, carnage-scarred road — blindly journeying in search of meaning and identity. It’s as if the contents of a diseased mind have spilled out into the real world. And indeed, after witnessing unbelievably shocking scenes, it is hard to regain a grasp on real, ordinary life. Such… Read More

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Book Review: Arrival, The Story of CanLit, by Nick Mount

The best books, Somerset Maugham once quite rightly insisted, are enjoyable to read. By this measure, Arrival: The Story of CanLit is a virtuoso performance. It’s fun, not at all academic. It’s informative – many of the most important works in the Canadian canon are evaluated (albeit cursorily) – it’s also funny, well written and stylish. Though difficult to compare Arrival to other works (“I wrote this book because it didn’t exist,” says its author, University of Toronto English professor Nick Mount), from the perspective of one who has a hungry interest in books and publishing history, I’d say it’s in the same elite category as James King’s Jack: The… Read More

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