82 Best Canadian Stories


187 pages
ISBN 0-88750-436-1





Reviewed by Fay Lando

Fay Lando was Projects Officer at the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food in Toronto.


Everyone will find something to please in this collection of short stories. The stories have a variety of settings — rural or urban Canada, Czechoslovakia, Greece. But their authors share good narrative skills and an excellence in plot and characterization.

Marriage relationships are explored in Keath Fraser’s “Le Mal de L’Air” and Elizabeth Spencer’s “Jean-Pierre.” Spencer’s treatment is subtle, with an element of the mystical; Fraser’s is direct.

Seduction is the subject of Josef Skvorecky’s “A Family Hotel.” It’s a humorous and charming piece, evoking memories of a less permissive society. The subject of “The Day I Sat With Jesus,” by Gloria Sawai, is the most esoteric in the collection. The author’s narrative skill is such that Jesus’ visit on the Johnson sundeck in Moose Jaw is perfectly credible.

Hugh Hood’s ‘The Small Birds” ponders the nature of life amid nature in cottage country. This bucolic setting contrasts with that in F.W. Watt’s “Desolation,” which takes place in a malfunctioning elevator.

“Prue,” by Alice Munro, is a delicious description of a woman who is not really like what she appears to be. Norman Levine’s “Because of the War” allows the reader glimpses of Canada and Canadians through the eyes of various immigrants. The reader’s taste will determine which of these stories are the favorites.


Metcalf, John, and Leon Rooke, “82 Best Canadian Stories,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 21, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/38610.