The Literary Review of Canada has asked several of their contributors “ including Marian Botsford Fraser, Rex Murphy, Janice Gross Stein, and Andrew Potter “ to weigh-in on the “great” books they were most let down by, which is always a fun parlour game. Most of the picks “ Don DeLillo’s Underworld, Richard Ford’s The Sportswriter, Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamozov, etc. “ were written by non-Canadians, but at least one CanCon classic comes in for a tarring: Sinclair Ross’ As for Me and My House. According to Suanne Kelman, who made the pick:
This dreary icon of CanLit could tempt new readers to change citizenship. In the prairie town of Horizon (a characteristically heavy irony), a thwarted artist and non-believing minister named Philip Bentley suffers and sins. His wife, who does not merit a first name, channels her stunted passions by serving as a wholly untrustworthy narrator. A kind of prairie Madame Butterfly, minus the suicide and sex appeal, she details her husband’s constant hissy fits with doting devotion.
We’re not sure about Kelman’s subsequent claim that the book can be read as a homoerotic fantasy “ if it is, it’s an awfully un-titillating one “ but we have to agree with the overall assessment that it’s a dreary, suffocating snooze. (Apologies to Malcolm Ross.)