The Notebooks: Interviews and New Fiction from Contemporary Writers
Reviewed: February 6, 2004
By: edited by Michelle Berry and Natalee Caple
Publisher: Anchor Canada
505 pages, $25.95
I was, for some years, suspicious of the modern short story,
feeling that it had pretty much abandoned the “story” part of the form. It
is pretty certain - don’t take my word for it, check the standard texts -
that anything to do with plot was seriously out of favour for quite awhile.
This was all part of the same general urge that banished representative art
as well as poetry with rhyme and rhythm, both of which have since returned
to take their rightful places among the “modern” movements which were once
said to have disposed of them.
The stories in The Notebooks partake of every flavour
you might imagine, do not scorn the telling of a tale or the delineation
of a character. For each of the seventeen writers represented here we get
a notebook page from some work in progress, a short biography, a short story
or novel extract (not necessarily the one from the notebook), and an interview
with the writer.
This is quite a delight.
Almost as much fun is the fact that five of these writers have
spent time in the Yukon in the following ways.
Russell Smith was the first of our Berton House writers in 1996.
Andrew Pyper came along the next summer and wrote Lost Girls,
one of the first novels to make mention of Berton House in its cover copy.
Steven Heighton was living in Berton House when this book was
being assembled a few years back, and his interview was actually conducted
from there via e-mail.
Catherine Bush was recently a guest writer at the annual Young
Eden Robinson was the Yukon’s Writer in Residence a few years
For me the other neat thing is that I’ve met and interviewed
four of these five, Pyper having been here while I was away on vacation one
There’s some very good stuff in this volume. If my faith in the
future of the short story had not already been restored some years ago, this
book would help to do it.