150th post today, and somehow that puts me in mind of Canada. Don’t ask, cos I don’t know. There is something about Canada that I can’t put my finger on – maybe because, like Britain, it often seems to play second fiddle to the US? Because they have two languages? Because of that lovely maple leaf? I don’t know. Whatever it is, it makes me feel I’ve missed out on Canadian literature. It remains an almost wholly untapped mine for me. In fact, the sum total of my Canadian reading (so far as I know) is Michael Ondaatje’s Anil’s Ghost, and lots and lots of the inimitable Stephen Leacock. There’ll be more of him at some later date, as I just know you’ll love him – like a Canadian PG Wodehouse, if any comparison is possible for an author who is really only Leacockian. Anyway, yes, Ondaatje and Leacock – that’s it. No Margaret Atwood, Carol Shields, L. M. Montgomery, Alice Munro… ok, I’m out. Whoever else there is, I haven’t read ’em.
This all snowballed when I came across Margaret Laurence’s The Stone Angel. In my unliterary sort of way, it was news of a film adaptation which reached me first. Fancied seeing it when it came out, so went off in search of the novel… lo and behold, Lynne mentioned it at dovegreyreader. Having CRUELLY made me go and find a copy myself, I pulled some library strings and have a copy in front of me now. A couple review books first, methinks, but Margaret Laurence is going to become my next dip into Canadian waters.
So, dear Transatlantic readers (and any others, of course) – where’s best to start with Canadian lit? In my perverse way, I’d rather avoid the Famous Ones listed above – I’d prefer someone fairly big in Canada, but who is a Best Kept Secret. Or someone who’s not even big in Canada, but comes with a recommendation tied to them. Any ideas?