It all adds up

“It is hard to credit, but a tone of eager, unmistakable hostility attends much of the commentary surrounding Saul Bellow’s relationship to Canada. ‘His writings have absolutely nothing to do with this country or its citizens or its culture or its psyche,’ wrote Thomas Hodd in a Globe and Mail article, written on the heels of Eleanor Catton’s Booker Prize win, whose very title (“Stop Calling Foreign Writers ‘Canadian'”) seems indelibly fringed with ire. Though the substance of Hodd’s comment is demonstrably false—before abandoning graduate work in anthropology at the University of Wisconsin, Bellow began a thesis on French-Canadian acculturation—it’s the thrust of Hodd’s animus, that glimmer of jovial myopia, that grates.”

Rod Moody-Corbett – Canadian Notes & Queries – February 2020


The Backsides of White Souls

“Before moving to Canada in 1974, I sold the rifle, but for years the Old Timer, dozing in its leather scabbard, dangled from the bedpost collecting dust. One evening after Trump’s election, I desperately wanted to shout over the world’s longest, wall-free international border, ‘I’m so glad I live here, not there!’ Instead, I locked the knife into an attic treasure box, a wooden soy sauce crate lugged home from an alley in Toronto’s Chinatown.”

Ronald L. Grimes – Canadian Notes & Queries – January 2018

Will Anybody Care?

“Future scholars of Mark Sampson Juvenilia will note that there is no copy of a four-and-a-half-star review of a 1993 Michael Bolton album that I published in The Watch; nor is there a typescript of the theatrical adaptation I wrote of the opening chapter of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, produced by the King’s Theatre Society in 1994. There are misspent youths, and then there is my misspent youth. But I know that, should I ever actually amount to anything in the writing world, this growing pile of bankers boxes may one day be worth, well … something?”

Mark Sampson – Canadian Notes & Queries – July 2018

Reconcile This

Shane Rhodes – Canadian Notes & Queries – April 2018

Montreal Poetry After Leonard Cohen

But this success was undercut by an inconvenient truth: he couldn’t make ends meet. He wasn’t a spendthrift—literary art in Canada simply didn’t pay. According to Nadel, the decisive shift toward his future singing career came at a party at Frank Scott’s house, when Cohen introduced the music of Bob Dylan to the Montreal poets. Listening to Subterranean Homesick Blues, the writers didn’t know what to think. Al Purdy, classy as ever, called it an awful bore and stomped out of the room. But ‘Cohen listened intently, solemnly announcing that he would become the Canadian Dylan, a statement all dismissed.’ By that fall, Cohen had moved into the Chelsea Hotel in New York and was doing the hard work of reinventing himself as a commercially successful singer-songwriter. The Golden Boy would surprise them all.”

Derek Webster – Canadian Notes & Queries – April 2018

The Man Who Wasn’t There

Matthew Hays – Canadian Notes & Queries – September 2017

Hey Porter

“Maybe some day we’ll put up a monument to Stanley Grizzle (1918–2016), who worked for twenty years as a sleeping-car porter—the only job open to him as a young Black man—and who used that position to help turn Canada into a country with a reputation for ethnic and racial tolerance and cultural acceptance. It’s not an overstatement to say that appreciating the role played by social-change agents like Grizzle and other sleeping-car porters is necessary to a full understanding of the contemporary Black presence in Canada and how Canada became an officially multicultural country. Theirs is one of many untold stories among the makers of modern Canada.“

Cecil Foster – Canadian Notes & Queries – February 2018

The Goddamn [Opera] Is Dead!

Louis Riel closes with the words “the goddamn son of a bitch is dead.” This final pronouncement is intoned by Dr. John Christian Schultz (the actor playing Schultz, that is), founder of the Canada First party, which in the late 1800s functioned as a forum for Protestant agitators in Red River. This dramatic, if rather crass end to the opera epitomizes Canada’s curious obsession with Riel—Canada’s love/hate relationship with the man and the myth.”

Monique Giroux – Canadian Notes and Queries – January 2018