The Bumper Book


238 pages
ISBN 0-920763-92-8





Edited by John Metcalf
Reviewed by Bruce K. Filson

Bruce K. Filson was a freelance writer and critic residing in Chesterville, Ontario.


This book is a disparate collection of articles, broken up with satirical notes and poems, about that strange animal CanLit. It is purported to be a follow-up to Kicking Against the Pricks, a book whose title, I confess, is all I ever want to read of it.

(This confession will suggest to Metcalf that I would be better off driving a truck.) Advertised as iconoclastic and cheeky, it’s more often tame and lame than game.

The book’s attempts at humour are too pointed to be funny. The best articles are those by Douglas Gibson, Michael Macklem, Morton L. Ross, Allan Weiss, and Martin Kevan: editors, critics, and publishers commenting on Canadian publishing institutions and concerns. They are informative, probably trite to those in the know, but helpful to someone who has no connections in academia, the Canada Council, or Toronto. Now I know why I feel left out in the cold. However, on a more magnanimous note, the book does encourage debate on the deeper issues of the sorry state of literacy and publishing in this country. I’m all for a little shouting in the pews of that pious church called CanLit and I do like to see a pie or two in the faces of the lords and ladies of letters (especially Atwood and Davies).

Actually, I thought I liked the book more than this. I got so involved. But then, pillow-fighting can get involving too.


“The Bumper Book,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 25, 2024,