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Issue 8, Volume 14 | August 2017

Issue 199, Summer 2017

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Summer Issue Book Review

The Conjoined

There are novels in which readers can wrap themselves in a cozy haze of escapism, but Jen Sookfong Lee's The Conjoined is not one of them. Lee’s approach to crime fiction prompts me to wonder why thrillers are pleasurable. If they are a form of escapism, then what kinds of harsh realities are we evading, and if readers take voyeuristic enjoyment in grisly murders and criminal behaviour, then what is missing from our mundane daily routines?.

Read the full book review (written by Phoebe Wang)



Publishing Tip: Build Your Own MFA by Alicia Elliott

Alicia ElliottFrom an outside perspective it definitely seems like if you want to move ahead in the Canadian literary industry, the best way to do so is to go through an MFA program. However, that's not always a possibility for those who don't have the access or opportunity. Maybe you aren't financially able to move to the cities that offer these programs; maybe you can't leave home due to family obligations; maybe professional commitments are in your way. Or maybe, like me, you got rejected from every MFA program you applied to and, dreams momentarily shattered, you accepted your need to take a lowly barista job at Starbucks to pay the bills.

Read the rest of this Publishing Tip on our website.


J. Mark Smith's Poetry in
the Summer 2017 Issue

J Mark SmithJ. Mark Smith, whose poem "Ready, Blue Sky" appears in the Malahat's Summer 2017 issue, discusses the finer details of his own work as well as Ted Kooser, William Wordsworth, and R. F. Langley with Malahat books reviewer and writer, John Stintzi.

JS: Many poems in your book Notes For A Rescue Narrative (Oolichan Books, 2007) are written from a point of view that is set at some distance from the subjects. For instance, "The River Is Alongside Always and No Longer" literally takes on aerial views, and a poem like "Evergreen" is in third person, but still feels like something a nosy reader such as myself would think you witnessed, or were a part of, because while the point of view in "Evergreen" is removed the details are intimate. I'm curious how you see yourself in relation to your poetry, in a participatory sense?

JMS: "The River Is Alongside Always and No Longer" is about Fort Simpson, N.W.T., and the people there, who are mostly Dene. If it's partly an aerial view it's because that's how I got up there (in 2001), by plane. Actually, by smaller and smaller planes—and then into Nahanni park and out again by Cessna. The north made the most sense to me, a brief visitor, from the air. The stories of that place that I was fortunate enough to hear illuminated some things too, but what I could see was mostly pretty fragmentary, like what the northern landscape itself would be for us southerners if we had to stay on the ground I suppose.

Read the full interview with J. Mark Smith on our website


Shashi Bhat's Fiction in
the Summer 2017 Issue

Shashi BhatIn "Food for Nought," which appears in the Malahat's Summer 2017 issue, Shashi Bhat recounts the story of Nina, a high-school teacher who jumps to the wrong conclusion about the motivation behind a poem a student submits to her creative-writing class. Interview by Malahat editor, John Barton.

JB: At the close of "Food for Nought," Nina, a high-school English teacher and the story's often droll narrator, reveals that she will eventually leave teaching because "it feels like a job for somebody both more and less human than I am." What is it about her that makes her feel unequal to the job?

SB: By the end of the story, Nina regrets her glibness, and realizes her teaching approach lacked empathy. She's uncomfortable having this much responsibility over vulnerable and mercurial teenagers, and as a result, she approaches the class in a shallow and cautious way. I imagine she's only been teaching a couple of years, and is thinking about what the students are thinking about her, instead of thinking deeply about the workshop poem they're discussing. She's not engaging in the discussion so much as she's trying to get through the class period without making a mistake.  

Read the full interview with Shashi Bhat on our website

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