30 November 2023

Celebrating John Metcalf at 85

This past Saturday, I joined a pubfull of people – yes, a pubfull – in downtown Ottawa to celebrate John Metcalf's 85th birthday. It was a glorious event with David O'Meara serving as host and Biblioasis publisher Dan Wells as MC. The fête began with Lisa Alward reading from 'Cocktail,' the title story of her newly published debut collection. Mark Anthony Jarman followed with 'Burn Man on a Texas Porch' from Burn Man: Selected Stories, also newly published. We were then treated to two passages from 'A Pearl of Great Price,' a new story by the man himself.

'Happy Birthday' was sung. There was cake!

What with Covid and geography, it had been some time since I'd last seen John Metcalf. I brought The Museum at the End of the World (2016) and The Worst Truth (2022) for him to sign. The latter is a 61-page review of David Staines' A History of Canadian Fiction, a book I myself had read for the Dorchester Review. 'What Is A Canadian Fiction?', the title of my much shorter review is a nod to John's What Is A Canadian Literature (1988).

We exchanged observations and opinions as members of a very small number who had actually read Prof Staines' latest.

At $126.95, I don't expect I'll meet another. 

The Worst Truth: Regarding A History of Canadian Fiction by David Staines can be purchased for eight dollars through this link. 'A Pearl of Great Price' is now available as the ninth number in the Biblioasis Short Fiction Series. Limited to one hundred numbered and signed copies, it is a thing of uncommon beauty.

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