Red Plaid Shirt: Stories New and Selected


310 pages
ISBN 0-00-200518-2
DDC C813'.54




Reviewed by Patricia Morley

Patricia Morley is professor emerita of English and Canadian Studies at
Concordia University and an avid outdoor recreationist. She is the
author of several books, including The Mountain Is Moving: Japanese
Women’s Lives, Kurlek and Margaret Laurence: T


This collection of 21 of Diane Schoemperlen’s best stories published
in the last 20 years shows the writer’s strengths and inventiveness.
As we might expect, themes and styles vary widely.

In “Forms of Devotion” (1994), the title story of her Governor
General’s Award–winning collection, she explores the meaning and
value of faith in a secular world. Her strong, quiet irony neatly
contrasts the banalities of everyday life with the relentless
possibilities of horror and tragedy. The humor is black, while irony
shapes the 10 numbered parts entitled Faith, Memory, Knowledge,
Innocence, Strength, Imagination, Prayer, Abundance, Wisdom, and Hope.

Schoemperlen’s style is often surprising. She draws on older genres
such as the murder mystery or fable, and plays with them, reforms them.
Her images are sensuous and powerful. In the last story, “Five Small
Rooms (A Murder Mystery),” Schoemperlen cheerfully parodies other
famous writers of murder mysteries. Red Plaid Shirt is a collection that
should satisfy many tastes and moods.


Schoemperlen, Diane., “Red Plaid Shirt: Stories New and Selected,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 19, 2024,