Stan Persky Trump’s Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse by Stan Persky

Well, looking at the upside — since we already know all we need to know about the downside – we can at least say that a kind of reliable weekly rhythm is being established by the Trump administration and its oddball realtor and Reality TV star — he with the funny... [Read more...]

Myrna Kostash An Interview with Jenny Mastoraki by Myrna Kostash

It is a cold, damp, Athenian winter afternoon in 1982 and the gutters are running with rain water, the inclemency has driven crowds into all the cafes of Kolonaki (a rather chi-chi quarter on the edge of the town centre) but Jenny Mastoraki and I finally find refuge in the smoky,... [Read more...]

Stan Persky John Asbhbery (1927-2017) by Stan Persky

John Ashbery (1927-2017). …                                                 Each person Has one big theory to explain the universe But it doesn’t tell the whole story And in the end it is what is outside him That matters, to... [Read more...]

Newest Articles

Trump’s Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

The end of the world used to include Death, War, Famine and Pestilence. The 2017 edition features Climate Change, Civil War, Nuclear Armageddon, and Trump. And don’t forget the Pink Lady.What’s a Dreamer to do?

Monday Monday: Keeping Up with the Trumps

It’s a brand new week. What’s the tweeter-in-chief gonna do today? Keeping up with the Trumps is exhausting.

Omar Khadr: Window on the Canadian Soul

Thinking through the controversy over a child soldier.

Cultural Appropriation, Misappropriation and Cultural Exchange: A primer

Brian Fawcett takes on the current hot-button issue of Cultural Appropriation and what it means to Canada, its artistic community, and to the future of democracy.

Report from the Writers’ Union, or, Why Should Not Old Men and Women Be Mad?

Brian Fawcett attends the AGM of the Writers’ Union of Canada, encounters several revolutions in the making, along with a Manifesto written by writers who are clinically insane or pathologically angry. He passes on the revolutions and joins the angry and/or the crazy writers.

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Newest Reviews

Andrew Struthers’ Hippie Calculations

John Harris reviews Andrew Struthers’ new book from New Star Press.

Against Tyranny: an urgent review of Timothy Snyder’s On Tyranny

Why you need to read this book — now.

An Unslick Reckoning

Brian Fawcett reviews B.C. poet Ken Belford’s latest book. He likes Belford, but isn’t so sure about the new work.

Larry Fagin and Prose Poems

Larry Fagin (1937-2017) thought that a lot of life was “off-the-cuff” and that “prose poems” were one way of conveying that insight.

Desperately Seeking Readers

Reading is in big trouble, says critic Alex Good. CanLit, he adds, may be in even bigger trouble.

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Newest Dictionary Entry

Margaret Atwood’s Backyard

While the world spent the week weeping over once-in-500-year floods, possible apocalypses, and the latest barbarisms of Donald Trump (in short it was a typical Book-of-Revelations end-of-August 7-Days-That-Were kind of week), Canada remained focused on author Margaret Atwood’s backyard.

Margaret Atwood, among the trees.

According to the nation’s journal of record, Toronto Life, “Margaret Atwood is really mad about some condos being built near her house.” Apparently Alterra Developments is planning to build an eight-story, 16 unit condo mid-rise (what are known in RealEstate-speak as “luxury boutique condos”) on Davenport Road, on the northern edge of a quaint Toronto downtown neighbourhood known as the Annex, uncomfortably close to where the author of The Handmaid’s Tale (which has enjoyed a major TV revival this year) and her spouse, writer Graeme Gibson, live in a little fix-er-upper Frog Hollow-type shack (which is now worth several million dollars due to international market forces and through no fault of Ms. Atwood’s own, except for her failure to join a major Marxist-Leninist political movement that would overthrow evil capitalism in the Western World).

Proposed “luxury boutique” condo.

Rather than causing the Revolution, La Atwood settled for sending a “strongly worded letter” to the city objecting to the development proposal on the grounds that it would disrupt the neighbourhood and kill a few trees.

By the way, when we note Toronto Life’s elevation to the nation’s journal-of-record, we are not entirely kidding. This week, while the nation focused its mind on Atwood’s backyard, the previous journal-of-record, the Globe and Mail, announced it was trimming down various stand-alone sections of the paper and reducing its “freelancers’ footprint” by firing columnists Tabatha Southey and Leah McLaren (but leaving in place the chief plagiarising Handmaid columnist Margaret Wente). Ah, cry us a river of obsolete ink.

Anyhoo… Atwood’s letter of complaint naturally set off a Twitter shitstorm of major proportions, accusing Atwood and her wealthy neighbours (mainly Loblaw’s CEO Galen Weston) of being evil Not-In-My-BackYard (NIMBY) activists. She was also charged with various other major offenses, such as being old. (She’s, for the record, 77, going on Old Crone.)

Her tormenters were legion. (The amount of anti-Atwood envy extant in the land is one of the under-reported stories of the year.) The most callous of them declared, “It’s sad [that] Margaret Atwood can write about inequality and oppression so well but can’t realize when she’s part of it.” Atwood demurely pointed out that she’d been living in the district for three decades.

But the Twitter pile-on was unrelenting as she was repeatedly charged with being a wealthy fat cat, out of touch, and, worst of all, and again and again, old. The TL piece detaiing all these local doings was written in the new style of a string of Tweets, punctuated by a word here and there. But why not? As one wag on Facebook pointed out, if there can be articles consisting of lists of things (known as “listicles” of course), why couldn‘t there be articles consisting of strings of tweets (known as “tweeticles” presumably). In addition to such tweets, the article also records the statistics, the number of “replies” and “retweets.” At one point in this exchange, believe it or not, there were 4040 replies and 1313 retweets. One gets the picture of an utterly bored national populace literally twiddling its thumbs on a smartphone while patiently waiting for the famous snow of the Great White North True and Strong, or Whatever.

The highlight (and lowlight) of this digital assault came from a young whippersnapper who told Atwood, “You must realize, that to someone born recently, the condition of your now-wealthy enclave before they were born is totally irrelevant.”

Atwood replied: “Tell you what. Trade you. You get to be old + decrepit with accumulated $ put by over a lifetime, I get to be young and yell at you. Deal?

.   .   .

(Dooney’s dedicates this definition to the sainted memory of city planner Jane Jacobs who walked the very streets  now defiled in tweets.)

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