We Are Not a Nation of Amnesiacs

"Canadians have long been convinced that we do not know much, or care much, about our own history, but a new study suggests that this truism is not true." more »

Sep 24, 2014 Columns

A Novel for All Times

Dickens’s Jarndyce family, Melville’s Bartleby and Kafka’s K were anticipatory shadows of a great satiric novel by Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar. more »

Sep 17, 2014 Columns

Who Cares Who Ate John Franklin?

Daniel Francis on John Franklin, John Rae and the Globe and Mail's enthusiasm for cannibalism. more »

Sep 10, 2014 Columns

Fighting Words

A look back at World War I as the first great twentieth-century pollution of language. more »

Sep 10, 2014 Columns


The writer who is loved by all, by definition, neglects literature’s prime responsibility: to offend. more »

Sep 3, 2014 Columns 1 Comments

Reading the Commedia

An appreciation of Dante's "Commedia." more »

Mar 5, 2014 Columns

Magical Thinking

The canoe as a fetish object, a misreading of Canadian history and a symbol of colonial oppression. more »

Feb 11, 2014 Columns

Homage to Nicaragua

Despite hardships and dangerous slums, Nicaragua maintains a sense of hope that draws back to the democratic days of the Sandinistas. more »

Feb 11, 2014 Columns

The author, age fifteen, Patagonia

Face in the Mirror

What does it mean to "be" yourself? The face reflected in the mirror is unrecognizable. more »

Dec 18, 2013 Columns 2 Comments

The Market and the Mall

In the farmer’s market, a quintessentially Canadian setting, much of Canada is not visible. more »

Nov 12, 2013 Columns 2 Comments

Irony-Free Reality TV

There may be more to reality TV than meets the eye. more »

Nov 8, 2013 Columns

Neighbourhood of Letters

There are imaginary cities for scientists, vampires, lechers and even bad students—but what about writers? more »

Aug 14, 2013 Columns

Not Reading

What we do when we absorb words from a screen— and we haven’t yet evolved a verb for it—is not reading. more »

Aug 7, 2013 Columns 4 Comments

Identity in a Cup

Is it the icons of Canadian pop culture—hockey fights, Tim Hortons coffee, Don Cherry’s haberdashery, Rick Mercer’s rants—that reveal the deepest truths about us? more »

Aug 7, 2013 Columns

Come to the Cabaret

The Penthouse, the notorious Vancouver night club, shares a history with several of the city's missing women cases. more »

Jun 26, 2013 Columns

Language and Nation Now

Do shared languages form the natural boundaries of any nation in the world? more »

May 28, 2013 Columns 1 Comments

Paul Joseph

A Brief History of Tags

A reflection on the complex and often inexplicable process of bibliographic categorizations. more »

May 22, 2013 Columns

Ethical Juices

Parables, cautionary tales, morality plays, allegories—the notion that we can study literary works as texts of ethics is as old as literature. more »

Mar 28, 2013 Columns


bob august at

Next Door Café: A Poet's Musings

Reflections on how a bar in Parc Extension, QC, influenced an eponymous poem about "unprogress, inertia, the failure to learn from mistakes." more »

Mar 27, 2013 Columns

Chariots of China

A bibliophile's worst nightmare: being stuck on a plane with a terrible book. A book mistaken for a work of serious history. more »

Feb 28, 2013 Columns 1 Comments



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