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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another

6/15/2004

book chat

Outspoken criticism remains as rare in our time as it was in West's. The reason became clear to me when I worked in the books section of the National Post. Part of my job involved calling up writers and asking them to write reviews. I enjoyed getting to know many talented authors, but I couldn't help but be struck by a common occurrence. Often, I'd say something along the lines of, "Why don't you tell me what kind of books you're interested in, and I'll keep you in mind if I see any?" Nine times out of ten the writer would reply, "I'll tell you what kind of book I don't want to review: Canadian literature."
the walrus
Ex-Post Booksguy Andy Lamay writing in The Walrus lands one on the cozy club of Canadian authors. I have also been told by GG winners and assorted other Canadian writers that they don't review Canadian fiction if they can help it. And, because I am onlyly indirectly attached to the press, they were forthcoming. One explained that if he didn't like a book he really didn't feel he should review it because he knew he'd see the author fairly soon.

Of course, reviewing at all in Canada is becoming a lost art as the Book review pages are cut and stuffed with wire copy. Ah well.