Best Canadian Stories 85


195 pages
ISBN 0-88750-589-9





Edited by David Helwig and Sandra Martin

Madeleine J. Bailey was the College Librarian in the Learning Resources Centre at Mount Royal College in Calgary.


This, the fifteenth in the Oberon series of short story anthologies, contains material from eleven writers. The collection ranges from the little-known (Edna Alford, Marion Johnson, and Carol Windley) through the better-known (Joyce Marshall, Sheldon Currie, Douglas Glover, and Robert Sherrin) to the prolific (W.P. Kinsella, Norman Levine, Jane Rule, and Marian Engel). Douglas Glover’s evocative “Dog Attempts to Drown Man in Saskatoon” won the Canadian Fiction Magazine Contributor’s Prize. Especially poignant is “Under the Hill” by Marian Engel, whose death was announced as the book was going to press. Her story is calmly indicative of the mental processes she was going through as her death approached.

The new writers acquit themselves well in this collection. Edna Alford’s “At Mrs. Warder’s House” and Carol Windley’s “Moths” both develop strong natural images. While the stories span the country in their settings, the overall collection suffers from being a little one-noted. Most are in the first person, taking the form of reminiscences. For this reason Marion Johnson’s “Coming of Age in Canada” stands out, not so much for the quality of the writing as for its fresh and interesting approach.

The stories from the old hands are effortlessly enjoyable, making the anthology a worthy collection of contemporary Canadian short fiction.



“Best Canadian Stories 85,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 14, 2024,