cover image Off the Record

Off the Record

Edited by John Metcalf. Biblioasis, $16.95 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-77196-545-3

In this edifying volume, short story writer Metcalf (Temerity & Gall) pairs shorts by Canadian authors Caroline Adderson, Kristyn Dunnion, Cynthia Flood, Shaena Lambert, Elise Levine, and Kathy Page with the writers’ meditations on their processes and literary careers. Flood details how she wrote her impressionistic story, “Calm,” in which a young boy wanders after police horses through the streets of Vancouver at night, and transcribes her fragmentary notes on suggested revisions (“take out street names—all, if poss”). Dunnion—whose featured story, “Last Call at the Dogwater Inn,” depicts an unlikely friendship between a suicidal drug addict and a delusional fellow resident at the eponymous motel—recounts how, after the deaths of several of her friends in the late aughts, she took up writing fiction in the hopes of building a legacy. The authors’ reflections illustrate the complex interplay between craft and intuition that goes into writing fiction (Lambert suggests that “really good fiction moves beyond intelligence, into something that happens on the page that is beyond the writer’s conscious construction”) and provide revealing case studies of how stories move from inspiration to published product. Aspiring writers will be enlightened. (Dec.)