Adult Entertainment


201 pages
ISBN 0-7715-9896-3





Reviewed by Joan McGrath

Joan McGrath is a Toronto Board of Education library consultant.


This work is vintage Metcalf, which is to say, it is memorable Canadian short fiction by a master of the craft. Adult Entertainment consists of two novellas and three short stories, all of which are both enormously funny and telling statements of the vulnerable human condition, especially the condition of the writer. No professional writer should even be allowed to embark upon an invited tour to the hinterland without having read “Travelling Northward,” after which the trials of the visiting artist should hold few dismaying surprises …

“Polly Ongle” looks into the mind and world of a mildly tormented, frustrated man, who can’t somehow get at his wife through the dense crowd of their (three) children; he busts, more or less, after his assistant, and cannot abide his temporarily loathsome son. This man is a crystalization of middle-aged angst in a rapidly evolving and unfriendly world. The three shorter pieces complete this work of polished and sardonic prose which is well up to the standard of Metcalf’s earlier works.


Metcalf, John, “Adult Entertainment,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 13, 2024,