Any Time At All and Other Stories


220 pages
ISBN 0-7710-9893-6
DDC C813'.54




Reviewed by Chris Knight

Chris Knight is a copy editor at Canadian Press.


These 12 short stories strike the reader like a display of summer heat
lightning—dazzling and all too brief. In tales that sparkle with all
the vitality (and uncertainty) of real life, Joyce Marshall prods us
into realizing how little we know ourselves, and how even less we know
others. The narrator in “The Accident” describes an accident she
witnessed as a child, and then discovers that her sister remembered the
event quite differently. Marshall’s characters convey a realistic and
somehow reassuring vagueness about their actions. They shun
introspection by deciding “it doesn’t matter in the least,” or
“it was simply something he had to do,” or “writers are like
that.” This is not to say Marshall takes the easy way out. There is
ample food for thought in these stories.

The collection spans 40 years of writing but is arranged thematically
rather than by date. This technique gives the book a more natural flow
than would a simple chronology; the first five “Martha” stories deal
with the experiences of a young girl growing up in Quebec’s Eastern
Townships, and are so linked as to be almost a novella. Later selections
portray fear and remembrance, while the three final, “other-worldly”
stories are culled from Marshall’s Norwegian travels in the 1960s.


Marshall, Joyce., “Any Time At All and Other Stories,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 20, 2024,