A Likely Story: The Writing Life


224 pages
ISBN 0-88995-103-9
DDC C813'.54




Reviewed by R. Gordon Moyles

R.G. Moyles is a professor of English at the University of Alberta, and
the co-author of Imperial Dreams and Colonial Realities: British Views
of Canada, 1880–1914.


This book is catalogued as a biography. Even the creator of its cover
blurb seems to have misread the book, stating that A Likely Story
“recounts the writing life of Robert Kroetsch.” Well, if one takes
the book’s title seriously, with its obvious tone of skepticism—even
denial—it is clear that biographical truth should be one of last
reasons to read the book. Kroetsch himself offers enough warnings to
that effect: “I should caution the reader that I’m renowned for my
ability to misread the question even my own and for my ability to answer
the question by indirection, misdirection, deferral, delay, rhetorical
dodges, postmodern artifice, sexual innuendo, and just plain outright

Taking an approach that is much more interesting than mere biography or
a mere picture of “a writer’s life,” Kroetsch presents intriguing,
sometimes confusing paradoxes, offering a personal, confessional view of
“The Writing Life,” a life that often puzzles, intrigues, and amazes
the writer himself. Or other writing lives—Wiebe’s and Stegner’s
and Margaret Laurence’s, for example—that puzzle, intrigue, and
amaze him and us. Kroetsch is witty, wise, and wonderfully enigmatic (as
we have known for a long time). And, as usual, these “fugitive”
pieces, with one or two poems, are well worth the effort of the reading.
Oh, by the way, Kroetsch does, at the end, admit that his book “is
(not) an autobiography.”


Kroetsch, Robert., “A Likely Story: The Writing Life,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 16, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/4859.