Bright lights, brilliant year

December 9 1996

Bright lights, brilliant year

December 9 1996

Bright lights, brilliant year



I Have Lived Here Since the World Began Arthur Ray (General). A rich chronicle of Canada’s first nations, much of it based on oral histories from elders.

Double Vision: The Inside Story of the Liberals in Power Edward Greenspon and Anthony Wilson-Smith (Doubleday). A revealing look at Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin and the Grits’ reign.

SCTV: Behind the Scenes Dave Thomas (McClelland & Stewart). An intimate history of the stage comedy troupe that eventually cracked up the television screen with a landmark show.

Hockey Dreams: Memories of a Man Who Couldn’t Play David Adams Richards (Doubleday). The New Brunswick novelist has written both a memoir and a polemic on the Americanization of the game, filled with humor and sadness.

Bowering’s B.C.:

A Swashbuckling History George Bowering (Viking Penguin). This unblinkered account includes all the racism, hypocrisy, lunatics and charlatans.

A History of Reading Alberto Manguel (Knopf Canada).

& Ross). An evocative weave g of fact and fiction based on the real-life illicit correspondence between a convict and a teenage girl 75 years ago.

An erudite and beguiling study of an abiding human passion. The Convict Lover Merilyn Simonds (Macfarlane Walter

Mondo Canuck: A Canadian Pop Culture Odyssey Geoff Pevere and Greig Dymond (Prentice Hall). A smart, irreverent take on everyone from Gino Vanelli to Marshall McLuhan.

Boom, Bust & Echo: How to Profit from the Coming Demographic Shift David Foot and Daniel Stoffman (Macfarlane Walter &

Ross). This population-centred approach to just about everything makes some provocative predictions.

Red China Blues Jan Wong (Doubleday). The engaging memoir of a Chinese-Canadian woman who arrived in her ancestral home a Maoist and left a stern critic.

Dreams of Millennium: Report from a Culture on the Brink Mark Kingwell (Viking Penguin). An intelligent and witty argument that there is nothing new under the millennial sun.

The Slammer: The Crisis in Canada’s Prisons Kevin Marron (Doubleday). A hard-hitting report from the jungle behind bars.

It has been a stunning year for Canadian books. In fiction, there was a flurry of outstanding first novels in the spring, several Of which caused a sensation in international publishing circles. The fall saw superb books from two established writers, Guy Vanderhaeghe and Margaret Atwood, both of which won major awards. In nonfiction, too, there has been a rich assortment of offerings, proof that the country still very much believes in the examined life. The best 24 Canadian books of 1996, unranked, selected by Maclean’s entertainment editors:


Alias Grace Margaret Atwood (McClelland & Stewart). This year’s Giller Prize-winner is at the top of her form investigating the psyche of a real-life convicted “murderess” in the 1840s.

The Englishman’s Boy Guy Vanderhaeghe (McClelland & Stewart). This bracing novel, set in 1870s Saskatchewan and 1920s Hollywood, took the Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction.

The Cure for Death by Lightning Gail AndersonDargatz (Knopf Canada). The often fantastical story of a 15-year-old girl’s quest for sanctuary, interwoven with recipes and whimsical entries from her mother’s scrapbook.

You Went Away Timothy Findley (HarperCollins). A masterful evocation of the charged, unsettling atmosphere of the Canadian home front during the Second World War.

Fugitive Pieces Anne Michaels (McClelland & Stewart). A rich, poetic meditation on the legacy of the past, conveyed through the story of a Polish Jew orphaned by the Holocaust. Angel Walk Katherine Govier (Little Brown). The remarkable tale of a female Canadian •photographer working in London during the Second World War.

Fall on Your Knees AnnMarie MacDonald (Knopf Canada). This impressive, best-selling debut spins the saga of a Cape Breton family.

Last Seen Matt Cohen (Knopf Canada). The moving yet frequently droll—and occasionally magical—story of a man reeling from the death of his brother.

Let Me Be the One Elisabeth Harvor (HarperCollins). This collection derives its piquancy from Harvor’s ability to focus on life’s intimate, sad,

£ funny—and utterly ^ recognizable—moments. Alice Munro: Selected Stories and The Selected Stories of Mavis Gallant (McClelland & Stewart). Anthologies featuring the reigning queens of the genre.

The Green Library Janice Kulyk Keefer (HarperCollins). The action moves from Toronto to Ukraine in this lyrical tale about a woman untangling her unknown past.