Fiction at a Glance

Moosehead Anthology #9: Career Suicide! Contemporary Literary Humour

Moosehead Anthology #9: Career Suicide! Contemporary Literary Humour
Edited By Jon Paul Fiorentino

DC Books
$15.95
paper
152pp
0-919688-69-1

Humour in writing depends, to a large degree, on the element of surprise: a writer zapping you with an unexpected twist or bon mot. For that reason, collections of “humorous” writing are often problematic, since the mere applying of the label sets up stifling expectations. In Career Suicide!, Fiorentino gets around this conundrum by making quality, rather than any purported yuk factor, his main criterion. This is a wise move, because, as David McGimpsey says in his (very funny) introduction, “There’s nothing as unfunny as trying to analyze humour.”

So, let me be unfunny for a moment. Reading this collection of Canadian writers, nearly all under 40, three things strike me most. One is that sexual explicitness appears, nowadays, to be almost exclusively the domain of women writers. (Eva Moran, Anne Stone.) Another is that poetry just isn’t as good a forum for humour as prose. Finally, it’s remarkable how thin the line between laughter and tears can be. Stories by Nathaniel G. Moore, Valerie Joy Kalynchuk, and Hal Niedzviecki, for all their pop culture savvy and deadpan slacker tone, seem to teeter on the brink of despair.

Elsewhere, Andy Brown’s “The Andy Brown Project,” consisting of potted biographies of other (presumably real-life) people named Andy Brown, is a great idea but would have to be much longer to be really, really funny. And Mark Paterson’s “Other People’s Showers Or: No Soap Radio” is so good it will make you want to lock him inside so he’ll finish his first novel faster. mRb

Ian McGillis is books columnist for the Montreal Gazette and author of the novel A Tourist’s Guide to Glengarry. His memoir Higher Ground will be published by Biblioasis in 2017.

Leave a Reply