15: Best Canadian Stories by John Metcalf15: Best Canadian Stories by John Metcalf

15: Best Canadian Stories

EditorJohn Metcalf

Paperback | November 30, 2015

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This year’s anthology contains a satisfying mix of old hands like Leon Rooke, Cynthia Flood, Mark Jarman and Rebecca Rosenblum, and newcomers like Kerry-Lee Powell, Megan Findlay, Kevin Hardcastle and Lauren Carter. There are others too, writers like Adrian Michael Kelly, Kathy Page and Alice Petersen. This is the forty-fifth anniversary of Best Canadian Stories, a book that has always championed the very best of Canadian writing, under the watchful eye in recent years of John Metcalf, who knows more about the Canadian short story than anyone else in the country.<_o3a_p>



Contributors: Mark Jarman, Kerry-Lee Powell, Rebecca Rosenblum, Adrian Michael Kelly, Kathy Page, Cynthia Flood, Lauren Carter, Megan Findlay, Kevin Hardcastle, Leon Rooke, Alice Petersen<_o3a_p>

Mark Anthony Jarman has published five collections of stories, Dancing Nightly in the Tavern, New Orleans Is Sinking, 19 Knives, My White Planet and Knife Party at the Hotel Europa, a collection of poetry, Killing the Swan, a novel, Salvage King Ya! and a travel book, Ireland’s Eye. He is the fiction editor of The Fiddlehead and teache...
Title:15: Best Canadian StoriesFormat:PaperbackDimensions:173 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 1 inPublished:November 30, 2015Publisher:OBERON PRESSLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0778014320

ISBN - 13:9780778014324

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From the Author

Introduction Reading in the literary magazines during 2015, I noticed an advertisement placed by the journal Studies in Canadian Literature/Études en littérature canadienne calling for the submission of papers under the general heading Canadian Literature: The Past Forty Years, for an issue of the journal celebrating its fortieth anniversary.The words “Canadian literary scholarship” provoked a horse laugh.The advertisement continued:“The period witnessed substantial developments and shifts in the field, from the legitimation of Canadian literature as an academic field of study and the rise of popular non-academic phenomena such as ‘Canada Reads’ and the Giller Prize, to significant literary and critical movements, postmodernism, postcolonialism, feminism, canon debates, new historicism, Indigenous studies, book history, transnationalism, critical race theory, queer studies, diaspora studies, and more recently, advances in the fields of digital humanities and ecocriticism.”What a doomed and deadening recital!Not a whisper about the Nobel Prize for Literature.Not a word about art or the rhetorics necessary to achieve it, not a word about aesthetic success, not a word about the vision and passion that aesthetic concerns serve.Daunting though the effort would be, one should, perhaps, try to summon compassion.While Canadian literary scholars have been for the last 40 years seeding the blighted crops of “ecocriticism,” “indigenous studies,” “queer studies” and “critical race theory,” here at Oberon we are celebrating with this volume the forty-fifth anniversary of the Best Canadian anthology, which both seeds and harvests. We promote no ‘ism,’ school or ideology. We fight under the banner of the question Mavis Gallant asked of all the arts: Is it dead or alive?Under the editorial eyes of David Helwig, Tom Marshall, Joan Harcourt, Clark Blaise, Leon Rooke, Maggie Helwig, Sandra Martin, and Douglas Glover, Oberon’s Best Canadian Stories has for 45 years championed the Best (how “Canadian literary scholars” hate that word!) and sought out and nurtured promising newcomers. Even in the uncertain early days, the contents pages were stellar.In 1976: Norman Levine, Hugh Hood, Audrey Thomas, Clark Blaise, Elizabeth Spencer, and Leon Rooke.In 1978: Alice Munro, Hugh Hood, Elizabeth Spencer.In 1980: Mavis Gallant, Alice Munro, Guy Vanderhaeghe, and a first published story from Linda Svendsen who would go on to write the shimmering collection Marine Life.As the years rolled on we published: Diane Schoemperlen, Libby Creelman, Caroline Adderson, Mark Anthony Jarman, Douglas Glover, Annabel Lyon, Elise Levine, Ann Copeland, Dayv James-French, Terry Griggs, Steven Heighton, K.D Miller, Keath Fraser, Mary Borsky, Elizabeth Hay, Antanas Sileika, Mary Swan, Andrew Pyper, Michael Winter, Mike Barnes, Sharon English…and my editorial eye is currently caressing Kevin Hardcastle, Alice Petersen, Kathy Page....About a decade ago, the literary columnist Philip Marchand wrote in the Toronto Star:“There is something both heartening and disheartening about the fact that so much of the strength of Canadian literary culture lies in the short story form. It is heartening because there are now many Canadian writers who are truly proficient in the art—so much so that whatever is enduring in our literature will be more likely found in their work than in over-stuffed prose epics such as [Rohinton Mistry’s] A Fine Balance or [Timothy Findley’s] The Piano Man’s Daughter.The situation is in some respects similar to Elizabethan and Jacobean England, where a cultural climate favoured the production of an enormous amount of good lyric verse, sonnets, and so on. Most of this good verse has since been classified by academic critics as ‘minor’ but it was wonderful minor stuff and it has remained undimmed by time.Something similar may be said about Canadian short fiction in the late twentieth century. The disheartening element in the situation, of course, is that few people actually read it.”The accuracy of Marchand’s remarks cannot be gainsaid but I will offer again the assertions I made in the Introduction to the 1977 volume:“An anthology such as this offers some slight hope, It offers to a larger audience work that otherwise might well not have been seen; it extends the life of a piece of work; it directs the attention of readers to writers who otherwise might have been consigned to the vaults on microfilm.The editorial task is not merely one of compilation; it is also critical. Frank Kermode described literary criticism as ‘the medium in which past work survives’. We hope that this anthology and succeeding ones will serve this function as well as offering immediate pleasure.”Can we keep on making such assertions in the face of indifference and against the hostility to art implied in ‘digital humanities and ecocriticism’, ‘queer studies’, and ‘critical race theory’?Oh, yes! Our editors remain hunched at the edge of the frontiers watching the swirling gravel for hints of gold. Hard to find and correspondingly treasured, rust-proof, impervious to the attack of acid, beautiful. Makes its way into the hands of the few. After that…?The other night, sitting under a pool of lamp-light, I was re-reading, simply for pleasure, some stories I hadn’t visited in years. They’re over 60 years old now, those first stories of Truman Capote’s, the stories in Other Voices, Other Rooms and The Tree of Night.Many years ago, when I was teaching myself how to read, these stories were Capote’s gift to me…handed on in the endless process of handing on. You Ever See the Snow? “‘You ever see the snow?’Rather breathlessly Joel lied and claimed that he most certainly had; it was a pardonable deception, for he had a great yearning to see bona-fide snow; next to owning the Koh-i-noor diamond, that was his ultimate secret wish. Sometimes, on flat boring afternoons, he’s squatted on St. Deval Street and daydreamed silent pearly snowclouds into sifting coldly through the boughs of the dry, dirty trees. Snow falling in August and silvering the glassy pavement, the ghostly flakes icing his hair, coating rooftops, changing the grimy old neighborhood into a hushed frozen white wasteland uninhabited except for himself and a menagerie of wonderbeasts: albino antelopes, and ivory-breasted snowbirds: and occasionally there were humans, such fantastic folk as Mr. Mystery, the vaudeville hypnotist, and Lucky Rogers, the movie star, and Madame Veronica, who read fortunes in a Vieux Carré tearoom. ‘It was one stormy night in Canada that I saw the snow,’ he said, though the farthest north he’d ever set foot was Richmond, Virginia.” I’m just saying.... John Metcalf

Editorial Reviews

“The arrival, late in the fall each year, of this Oberon collection is always cause for fanfare”—Quill & Quire<_o3a_p>

“A literary institution”—Ottawa Citizen<_o3a_p>