Revolutions: Essays on Contemporary Canadian Fiction

By Ekstam, Jane | British Journal of Canadian Studies, January 1, 2018 | Go to article overview

Revolutions: Essays on Contemporary Canadian Fiction


Ekstam, Jane, British Journal of Canadian Studies


Alex Good, Revolutions:Essays on Contemporary Canadian Fiction (Windsor, ON: Biblioasis, 2017), 262 pp. Paper. $19.95. ISBN 978-1-77196-119-6.

Revolutions is presented by the publisher as 'the first book-length critical survey of twenty-first-century Canadian fiction, with in-depth essays examining subjects such as the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the effects of the digital revolution and the dark legacy of what has come to be known as the Canadian literary establishment'. Unlike Margaret Atwood (in The Burgess Shale: The Canadian Writing Landscape of the 1960s, 2017), Good is pessimistic about the future for Canadian literature. By the 1980s, he argues, it had become obvious that the golden years were over, 'the ladder to those heights had been drawn up, the doors closed, the Golden Book filled' (p. 50). The same applies to literary criticism. Art in Canada, Good claims, has now ceased to have any special value. The forty years in which Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje were producing their best-known works were years of 'tyranny', 'hegemony' and 'enveloping dull sameness' (p. 84).

While new writers like Douglas Coupland have entered the Canadian literary scene, Good is grudging in his assessment of their contributions. He argues, for example, that Coupland owes his popularity to 'his denial not of an adult past but of an adult present' (p. 94). Coupland's writing 'simply doesn't have an adult gear ... When he tries to be serious he falls into sentiment, banalities, and evocations of the vaguely wondrous' (p. …

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