Photograph by Yukiko Onley, 2007 First appeared in The Devil’s Artisan Thanks to a contagious passion for the art and practice of printing, Robert Reid has, over some 85 years, lived a life filled with peaks and few, if any, valleys; this, largely due to the kind acts and generosities of others who’ve shared in […]

First appeared in Canadian Art Magazine “The 1930s: The Making of ‘The New Man’” is a stark reminder of how easily huge numbers of human beings can be convinced to slaughter and maim one another, how weak and hateful we can be, how susceptible to promises of salvation and self-aggrandizement, how quick to forget atrocities. […]

First appeared in Salt Magazine The week ahead was primed for indulging two passions: fast driving and book collecting. I made Moncton from the Saint John airport in about an hour. My sporty new Mazda3 GT purred with pleasure as it raced along smooth, traffic-free highways. I collect modern first editions, or more accurately, contemporary […]

First appeared in Guerilla magazine Be warned in time, James, and remain, as I do, incomprehensible: to be great is to be misunderstood. Oscar Wilde. In her poem ‘I dwell in Possibility’ Emily Dickinson compares poetry to a house; open to those with imagination, closed to those who can’t understand. When a poet fails to […]

First appeared in The Guardian In a previous post here, I argue that familiarity with the life of an author enriches the experience of reading their work. It not only influences the way fiction is understood, it also boosts enjoyment. The text remains the same. Its intrinsic aesthetic qualities remain the same, what changes is […]

First appeared in The Washington Post A thick helping of recognition was recently served up to the Beirut-born Rawi Hage for his first novel, De Niro’s Game winner of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the world’s richest prize ($153,000) for a work of literary fiction. Recognition from a country that knows something about the […]

First appeared in The Quarterly Conversation Assuming the format of an Everyman’s dictionary of writers, Robert Bolaño’s novel Nazi Literature in the Americas, consists of a series of short profiles, thirty brief fictitious lives of pan American fascist novelists and poets, depicted with such straightforward urbanity and good humor that one almost misses the sick […]

First appeared in The Globe and Mail Dr. Johnson defined the essay as “an irregular, indigested piece, not a regular and orderly performance.” By this count there is no doubt that what Stephen Henighan presents in A Report on the Afterlife of Culture are indeed essays; what is missing however, in both Johnson’s descriptive and […]

The New Quarterly and Canadian Notes and Queries collaborating on a response to The Penguin Book of Canadian Short Stories How ironic that John Metcalf in his CNQ essay ‘Thinking about Penguins’, would call out Jane Urquhart’s inability to weigh relative merit; say of The Penguin Book of Canadian Short Stories “[it] flatly does not […]

A squeaky escalation starts things off, an orchestra warming up; like in that famous Beatles song. An edgy, nails on the blackboard shift into helicopter blades. Slow building punching elevator doors repeatedly closing into a hollow cello tunnel where an aircraft starts up and stops. The sawing heartbeat of a panther morphs into a subway […]