Third Impressions


176 pages
ISBN 0-88750-439-6






Reviewed by Nora D.S. Robins

Nora D.S. Robins is co-ordinator of Internal Collections at the
University of Calgary Libraries.


John Metcalf, concerned about diminishing opportunities for young Canadian writers, has compiled the third in a series of short story anthologies. Barry Dempster, Don Dickinson, and Don Margoshes are three writers who caught Metcalf’s eye and ones he feels will grow into their art.

Barry Dempster’s “The Burial” is the story of a young Canadian’s exposure to the culture and customs of India when he accompanies his professor home to die. In “Barry’s Bay,” a young boy discovers that the bastard is life itself and that the cottage country of Barry’s Bay is to dreams as Toronto is to harsh reality. The least interesting tale, “Dangerous Fish,” presents fishermen spouting aphorisms, due to the effect of eating “super” fish. A strong sense of place pervades Dempster’s stories and they are characterized by clear, deft style.

Don Dickinson’s “Fighting the Upstream” tells of a juvenile delinquent who is sent to reform school, where he comes to grips with his feelings about his alcoholic father. “Kopecki and the Living Dog” tells of the drunken visions of Kopecki, and a third story concerns a group of tourists in India. Dickinson’s stories illustrate his interest in those people “who are exceptional only because they have dignity and courage to grapple with their fates.”

“Truckee Your Blues Away,” “Rabbit Done Run,” and “A Change of Life,” all by Don Margoshes, are quite different. They lack the clear style and wry humor of the other six stories. They are quite existential in tone.

On the whole, Third Impressions is a fairly entertaining collection. No one story stands out nor is there anything unusual in fictional technique. Many of the stories have already appeared in Canadian literary magazines and it is good to see them brought to the attention of the general reader.


Metcalf, John, “Third Impressions,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 20, 2024,