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CanLit canon

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CanLit Canon Review #17: Margaret Laurence’s The Stone Angel

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In an attempt to make himself a better Canadian, Craig MacBride is reading and reviewing the books that shaped this country. It’s the day after you finish it, when you’re tying your shoes and see it on the coffee table, that you realize The Stone Angel has done something to you, that it’s now a part of your life. You see the book, beaten up from your hours of reading, and you realize that Hagar...

CanLit Canon Review #15: Mordecai Richler’s The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz

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In an attempt to make himself a better Canadian, Craig MacBride is reading and reviewing the books that shaped this country. Mordecai Richler’s The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, published in 1959, is a hilarious and rambunctious novel that gives little space to scenery or introspection. It is the story of Duddy Kravitz, a smart-ass kid with ambition, a fast mouth, and little time for education...

CanLit Canon Review #14: Donald Creighton’s John A. Macdonald: The Young Politician

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In an attempt to make himself a better Canadian, Craig MacBride is reading and reviewing books that shed fascinating light on Canada’s history. Of all the books I’ve read as part of this project, John A. Macdonald: The Young Politician has most improved me as a Canadian. Published in 1952, this book explores Canada’s beginnings through the life of the man who directed its creation...

CanLit Canon Review #13: Farley Mowat’s People of the Deer

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In an attempt to make himself a better Canadian, Craig MacBride is reading and reviewing the books that shaped this country. People of the Deer, Farley Mowat’s first book, was published in 1952. At the time, the story was already old, but the way in which Mowat told it was new. It’s the story of white people disrupting and ruining Indigenous culture. What Mowat changed was the setting, the...

CanLit Canon Review #12: Harold Innis’s Empire and Communications

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In an attempt to make himself a better Canadian, Craig MacBride is reading and reviewing the books that shaped this country. What is most remarkable about Harold Innis is his consistency through the years. Whether it’s his first book, The Fur Trade in Canada or, 20 years later, his last book, Empire and Communications, Innis is always, without exception, unreadable. Unlike Fur Trade, Empire and...

CanLit Canon Review #11: W.O. Mitchell’s Who Has Seen the Wind

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In an attempt to make himself a better Canadian, Craig MacBride is reading and reviewing the books that shaped this country.
Published in 1947, W.O. Mitchell’s Who Has Seen the Wind arrived six years after As For Me and My House, Sinclair Ross’s Prairie-based depression trigger, and it has the same message as its predecessor: people die, you never find God, and crops always fail.

CanLit Canon Review #9: Hugh MacLennan’s Two Solitudes

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In an attempt to make himself a better Canadian, Craig MacBride is reading and reviewing the books that shaped this country. Two Solitudes, Hugh MacLennan’s 1945 masterpiece, sets out to do nothing less than explain Quebec to the rest of Canada and harmonize the dominion for future citizens. MacLennan attempts this with a generations-spanning soap opera featuring two families, one French and one...

CanLit Canon Review #8: Sinclair Ross’s As For Me and My House

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In an attempt to make himself a better Canadian, Craig MacBride is reading and reviewing the books that shaped this country. As For Me and My House, published in 1941, is a beautifully moody novel about weather and a terrible marriage. The book is written as a series of diary entries over 13 months during the Depression. Mrs. Bentley (her first name never appears in the book) is the writer of the...

CanLit Canon Review #7: Morley Callaghan’s Such Is My Beloved

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In an attempt to make himself a better Canadian, Craig MacBride is reading and reviewing the books that shaped this country. Morley Callaghan’s fourth novel, Such Is My Beloved, was published in 1934, and it’s the first of the books in the canon that feels modern. There’s a Chinese restaurant, a completely un-CanLit lack of foliage, and it’s urban; the setting is Toronto during the Depression...

CanLit Canon Review #6: Harold Innis’s The Fur Trade in Canada

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In an attempt to make himself a better Canadian, Craig MacBride is reading and reviewing the books that shaped this country. Harold Innis’s The Fur Trade in Canada, published in 1930, is an indispensable record of the fur trade and early European-Aboriginal relations, but it is also a brutal and exhausting test of endurance. You will learn a lot by reading this book, and you will likely be a...

CanLit Canon Review #5: Mazo de la Roche’s Jalna

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In an attempt to make himself a better Canadian, Craig MacBride is reading and reviewing the books that shaped this country. No one talks about Mazo de la Roche anymore, but her 16-part series, which chronicled the doings of the Whiteoak family, was popular in its time. So popular, in fact, that a neighbourhood and school in Mississauga are named after the fictional family, a Newmarket school is...

CanLit Canon Review #2: Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables

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In an attempt to make himself a better Canadian, Craig MacBride is reading and reviewing the books that have shaped this country. From its very first sentence, which is 148 words long and covers, in part, the evolution of a local stream, Anne of Green Gables is a charming novel, but in an excruciatingly bland way. It’s nice in the same way Niagara-on-the-Lake is nice; it’s a place you take...