Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Canadian Short Story Listers Dust it up

An excerpt from 31 Days of Short Stories: We Seemed to Have Touched a Nerve ... by Steven Beattie

(August 12 Blog Entry at the The Shakespearian Rag / Notes from a Literary Lad)

The Toronto launch of the joint Canadian Notes and Queries / The New Quarterly Salon des Refusés doesn’t happen until tomorrow evening, yet already there seems to be some controversy brewing over the journals’ collective response — a response that Bookninja George Murray referred to, with typical restraint, as “a double-tined fork in the eye” — to The Penguin Book of Canadian Short Stories.

Quill & Quire ran a story online, dated August 12, 2008, quoting Jane Urquhart, who edited the Penguin anthology, and who seems a bit upset with the suggestion, which serves as the premise for the joint Salon, that the collection elides a number of the most innovative short-story writers in this country:
“I, too, very much admire many of the authors that have been included in the Salon des Refusés,” Urquhart told Q&Q Omni on Monday, citing Diane Schoemperlen, Steven Heighton, and Terry Griggs in particular. “If they were excluded, they were excluded for any number of reasons, quality not being the primary one.”

Urquhart noted that the collection was meant to be a broad chronological survey of more than a century of Canadian short-story writing, making omissions inevitable. “You have to leave people out – that’s the way it is,” she said. “It’s quite upsetting when one does the best one can do under a certain mandate, and is then attacked for something outside that mandate.”

Now, I have a great deal of sympathy for the plight of the anthologist, who is often fighting an uphill battle. Canada has no shortage of great short-story writers, and a single-volume anthology obviously presents certain restrictions in terms of space. Let’s face it: at 700 pages, one wouldn’t want the Penguin volume to be any longer.


Read the rest of Steven Beattie's Blogpost here.


If you'd like to listen to some Canadian short stories (even some from among the names mentioned above) visit Rattling Books where you can choose to order audio book CDs by mail or pay to download short fiction collections by Mavis Gallant, Lisa Moore, Janis Spence and Susan Rendell . If whole collections intimidate you try a Short Story Single for your ipod or MP3 player.