Thursday, June 02, 2005

Whisky Prajer's List of Five Heartbreaking Works of Staggering (Canadian) Genius

Again, avoiding Margaret Atwood and Robertson Davies:

Anything by Alice Munro. There's a reason why she's called "Canada's Living Chekov" (hint: it has nothing to do with putting on a red velour tunic and a bad accent).

The Ash Garden by Dennis Bock. At the rate I was giving this book away after 9/11, I was courting bankruptcy.

In The Wings, by Carole Corbeil. This link has the entire Books In Canada review - a rather moving bit of prose itself.

The Last Crossing by Guy Vanderhaeghe. In a just universe, this guy would be bigger than Larry McMurtry, Wallace Stegner, or even Cormac McCarthy.

That Summer In Paris by Morley Callaghan. Okay, so this last one isn't a novel. But it's a brilliantly rendered account of what it was like to be a Canadian (like, regular guy, eh?) rubbing elbows with Gertrude Stein's "Lost Generation" in Paris - the last generation of writers everyone paid attention to.

Enjoy! (Thanks, DV!)


DarkoV said...

Whew!? Great pair of posts here. You're truly a font of unfamiliar authors. Intriguing one sentence reviews which are enough, at least for me, to at least do a cursory 25-30 page scouting trip.
Just wondering. Ondaatje, Johnston, & my current fav. (thanks to one of your previous entries), Toews? No mention since they're better known, or are both of your lists here living things to be added onto?

Whisky Prajer said...

I was within a hair's breadth of listing Ondaatje's In The Skin Of A Lion, instead of Callaghan's delicious little memoir. In that case, I followed my oh-so-Canadian instincts, and listed the lesser-known. Wayne Johston's Colony of Unrequited Dreams is very, very good, but I'm not sure I could shoehorn him into a list of only five books. Ditto, Ms. Toews. Also, I'm told by my Steinbach informant that Ms. Toews is currently on an international tour of countries who have translated and published her work, including Japan and China. This tour is slated to conclude with a public reading at the Roman Collosseum, where she will be opening for Salman Rushdie. Since Ms. Toews is but one slender degree removed from her creation No-Me's fondest desire of becoming Lou Reed's first Mennonite consort, she needs no more publicity help from me!