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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Reader's Diary #115- John Stevens (Editor): Best Canadian Short Stories (up to "Every Day of His Life")


Stevens had divided up this collection of stories into themes, the first two being sort of a battle of the sexes; 1. Men and Women: Romantic and Comic Views and 2. Men and Women: Tragic and Ironic Views. Why he picked such themes is a little unclear. But what's even more baffling is that in the first section, there are five stories of which NONE are written by a female. Maybe it's my inner feminist coming out, but isn't the thesis a little incomplete and one-sided without that? Sure the hero in Charles G.D. Roberts' "The Cabin Door" is a female, and sure female characters make an appearance at least in the others, but still a female author would have been nice. But then, look at the section title: Romantic and Comic views. While I think Stevens could have found a female author or two writing romantic stories in 81 when the collection was written, I think he'd have had a difficult time finding comic female authors. Munro, Shields, Atwood and Laurence while all successful and arguably all very talented, haven't compiled a great list of funny fiction have they? Maybe Stevens' would have an easier time today as Canada's female authors seem to be infusing more comic elements into their work. Both Miriam Toews and Lisa Moore come to mind. As does newcomer Tina Chaulk whose book "This Much Is True" is apparently laugh out loud funny. I hope so, Canada has its share of intelligent writers. Let's hope funny gets its day as well (not that it has to be one or the other).

Speaking of funny, not many of these are hilarious. Leacock's "The Mariposa Bank Mystery" is the best of the lot so far, but even its cheeky humour doesn't compare with his "My Financial Career". The first time I read that one I woke my wife up with my laughing. She wasn't amused- but man o man, was I!

2 comments:

Tina Chaulk said...

(I posted this yesterday but it doesn' seem to show up on the comments so I am going to try again)

Well, I never thought I would ever see my name along with Lisa Moore and Miriam Toews. It is amazing that you found a way to do it. Thanks for the mention and I hope it lives up to the expectation of "laugh out loud funny" for you.

John Mutford said...

Wow, a visit from an author! That's a first- now I really need to read your book- though, suddenly I'm more nervous about posting my comments!