The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Hidden Gems

by Steven Gajadhar

Margaret Atwood and Robert Weaver. The Oxford Book of Canadian Short Stories in English. Don Mills: Oxford University Press, 1988. Kohala Book Shop, Big Island of Hawaii. Filed under A for anthology. 6 dollars.

In the immortal words of Griff, “I don’t have to come on strong, uh mean, I don’t have to come on strong, but…”

I do. This book deserves it.

Austin C. Clarke has never been one of my favorites, but with Griff he created his David Copperfield. Few writers have ever created a character as vibrant and tragic as Griff.

Then there’s The Peace of Utrecht by Alice Munro. Ah Alice, if only you were 40 years younger so I could seduce away your secrets. My wife would understand.

And George Bowering’s Short Story, the only example of tongue-in-cheek diction that I have ever seen, and yet also a tongue in cheek illustration of everything necessary to the short story.

Gloria Sawai, Mavis Gallant, Morley Callaghan, Timothy Findley, Jack Hodgins (who I will never forgive for writing A Passion For Narrative and making me feel stupid), Mordecai, Leon, Sinclair, Stephen. They are all inside, captured in their primes, peaks, and periods. Names that I’ve always known as part of the Canadian canon, but names that I never truly knew until I unearthed this book.

Reading these stories shows me what it takes. Provides tangible evidence of the lofty heights the short story form can attain, reinforces why the short story is so vital to literature. Reading these stories gives me hope that perhaps one day I will find a way to reach into that place inside us where stories come from, pull out some obscured form and cut it into immortality.

And I won’t be sad if it is only once, if I never rise out of obscurity or simply descend back into it. I will be happy knowing that in some future an aspiring writer will discover my story, read it, and be moved by it.

Until then, I’ll continue to bury my ideas and images for later.


Blogger Anne C. said...

You inspired me to finally turn to my Oxford Book of Canadian Short Stories. It's called Canadian Short Fiction: from myth to modern. It was published in 1986 and a friend lent it to me five years ago. The first piece I read was "The Latehomecomer" by Mavis Gallant. Everyone should read this story now!

Tue May 09, 12:24:00 pm GMT-4  

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