The following is excerpted from George Fetherling’s The Writing Life: Journals, 1975-2005 is a surprising read
There are simply not enough of us. It’s nobody’s fault. It’s just the way things are here on the tundra.
We don’t have the numbers. As a result, we don’t have the book sales. Or the magazine circulation. At least, not enough to hold back the cultural tidal waves coming from New York, from Hollywood, from Downton Abbey.
It’s not that Canadians believe that everything happens elsewhere. We remain admirably delusional in this regard. It’s just that everything does happen elsewhere. Or so it so often seems in the sharply observed, beautifully written memoirs that pour, unstoppable, from the British and the American literary scenes.
This particular genre — the realm of Grub Street gossip and Algonquin Hotel bon mot, envy and ambition, hard work and low pay — does not seem to thrive in Canada. George Fetherling’s The Writing Life: Journals, 1975-2005 will be published this April. It is a welcome exception to this miserable rule.
It’s interesting to wonder what the stature — and the income — of a writer as good and as multi-talented as Fetherling would be in a New York or London context.
Being a poet, a novelist and an accomplished journalist is not an easy combination to pull off anywhere. It’s practically a high-wire act in Canada.
The constant subtext of Fetherling’s journal is money and a Canadian writer’s lack of it. And yet . . . the talent stacks up. His thumbnail sketch of the Canadian historian Douglas Creighton is no less sharp and no less incisive than the kind of writing one expects to find in The New Yorker.
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