Friday, September 05, 2008

The Salon in Maclean's

There's an article about the Salon in the current issue of Maclean's. Entitled 'Short Stories. Very Long Knives,' it can be found here:

www.macleans.ca/culture/media/article.jsp?content=20080827_102027_102027&page=1

An excerpt:

Earlier this summer, in an unusual feat of co-operation, two literary magazines, The New Quarterly and Canadian Notes and Queries, published simultaneous special editions with near-identical covers. The goal was to showcase writers Urquhart left out of her collection last fall, to "tweak the beak" of the mighty Penguin. This jointly curated "Salon des Refus├ęs" — named after a parallel exhibit for artists who were left out of the Paris Salon in 1862 — has become the talk of literary Canada. It has sparked debate, brought unprecedented attention to the two spunky journals at its centre, goosed the sales of Urquhart's own book and led to tension, even among the protest's instigators, over the proper bounds of criticism and dissent.


The juicy literary feud angle has pushed this into the mainstream, and for that, we are grateful. When was the last time short fiction and literary publishing were mainstream news items? But every once-in-a-while it needs be said: that though the Salon is about registering dissent -- and that is as it should be in a healthy literary community -- much more important is the celebration of writers and writing and the short story form. This is not about a feud with Jane Urquhart. We have taken issue with some of the choices she has made as an editor and outlined the
reasons for our disagreement. Nigel Beale is not the only one who disagrees with our choices, and though I've been saying a prayer each night that he is the only book reviewer unable to see the vast difference between Burnett and Levine, this is all well and good. There are many other writers out there who could have been included in this Salon des Refuses. There are several I wince at the thought of not including, and I think Kim feels the same. This Salon needs a salon! Steven Beattie's marathon exercise on his blog, That Shakespherian Rag, shows this as much as anything we did. Work towards claiming your own anthology of the heart. Better you than Penguin.

As Steven Beattie wrote last eve, the important thing here is that people are actually reading and talking about short stories as if they matter. And that can only be a good thing.

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