Nicole Dixon review, holiday party guests

December 15, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

High Water Mark, DixonMy review of Nicole Dixon’s short-story collection, High-Water Mark, is online at the National Post‘s Afterword blog. The review has already come in for criticism on Twitter as a result of my invocation of what the poet Jacob McArthur Mooney feels is a hoary CanLit cliché.

Here’s the offending paragraph:

Dixon is uninterested in the kind of lyrical historical romance that was, for some time, the default CanLit setting. Her stories are abrasive and direct, marrying a fierce intelligence with a febrile style that refuses to shy away from profanity or explicit sex. There is a toughness to these stories that testifies to a refreshing honesty, a refusal on Dixon’s part to paper over the more nettlesome aspects of her material, opting rather to face it head-on in all its painful messiness. High-Water Mark is kitchen-sink realism filtered through a storm-tossed East Coast sensibility. And it is chock full of allusiveness and implication.

Twitter controversy aside, I thought Dixon’s book was a bit of alright.

In other news, Toronto-based poet Sachiko Murakami, this month’s writer in residence at Open Book: Toronto, asked me to choose a guest list for an imaginary literary holiday party. You can see my response, along with those of poets David McGimpsey and Alessandro Porco, on the Open Book site.


One Response to “Nicole Dixon review, holiday party guests”
  1. Alex says:

    Yes, but, cliches only get to be cliches because they have some grounding in truth.

    When you say, “the kind of lyrical historical romance that was, for some time, the default CanLit setting” the implication is that we have moved on. I’m not so sure. As anyone working in the frontlines of CanLit, seeing the mass of all that comes in for review, knows, the historical romance is still alive and well in this country. It may not be the default setting, but I’d wager it’s still the dominant mode, especially among the bigger publishing houses (the small presses tend to go their own way).