Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Thanks for Listening: Stories and Short Fiction

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Thanks for Listening: Stories and Short Fiction

Article excerpt

Ernest Buckler, Thanks for Listening: Stories and Short Fiction, selected and ed. Marta Dvoøak (Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2004), 310pp. Paper. $24.95. ISBN 0-8892-0438-1.

If Ernest Buckler is remembered at all these days, it is for his 1952 novel, The Mountain and the Valley. Marta Dvoøak has recently set about reclaiming this Nova Scotia writer-farmer as a significant presence in Canadian literary history, first through criticism (Ernest Buckler: Rediscovery and Reassessment) and now through an edited selection of Buckler's short fiction, including prose poems, mini-essays and sketches as well as a generous range of short stories. Because the volume is representative - covering key themes and styles, early and late work, frequently anthologised pieces and unpublished material - readers can readily evaluate Buckler's achievements and limitations.

Buckler's artistic interests lend themselves to the short story. Unusually for a male writer of his generation, he focuses on the prosaic details of domestic experience. He delights in the tribal rituals, values and prejudices of rural communities and the way these shape individual identities. The dynamics of small groups and the formation of subjectivity are recurrent topics that he problematises through characteristic features of the short story form. In 'The Harness' and 'The Balance', for instance, moments of epiphanic insight and self-consciousness dramatise the workings of emotion and memory; they reveal the way individuals narrate the 'story' of their experiences to themselves. …

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