A new wave ofcrime writers is exploring Canada's darken corners BY RICHARD POPLAK ILLUSTRATION BY JACK DYLAN
BOOKS DISCUSSED IN THIS ESSAY:
and beaver-shaped shortbread. Rush espies the young Rosalind Canon, CanLit Wunderkind of the moment. She is flush with a Dickie nom, a considerable book advance, and the adulation of the culturocracy. Why not me? whines Rush, borrowing the italics Stephen King made a thriller hallmark back in the '70s. He continues: Luck. Pulled strings. Marketability. Though there is always some- . thing else, too. A compelling order to things, a story's beginning, middle and end. Me} All I have is all most of us have. The messy garble of a lifein-progress. Desperate for a narrative. Rush steals someone else's story and turns it into a mega-selling thriller called The Sandman. He is then forced to dismember a corpse, watch helplessly as his son is kidnapped, and undergo sundry trials that make Job's ordeal resemble a weekend winning streak in Vegas. It all ends, unhappily, in a dilapidated house in the frozen Canadian backwoods.
The Killing Circle by Andrew Pyper Doubleday Canada (2008) The Suicide Murders by Howard Engel Penguin Canada (1980) Forty Wordsfor Sorrow by Giles Blunt Random House Canada (2000) The Murder Stone by Louise Penny Headline (2008)
The Guardians by Andrew Pyper Doubleday Canada (2011)
oughly a third of the way into Andrew Pyper's bestselling The Killing Circle (2008), sodden anti-hero Patrick Rush—a hack newspaper critic with literary aspirations— scores an invite to the Quotidian Awards. Affectionately known as the Dickies, the Quotidian is handed out to the work of fiction that "best reflects the domestic heritage of Canadian family life." Among plates of caribou tartare 61
THE WALRUS • MARCH 2 0 I I
THE WALRUS MCGILL DEBATE AT THE SEGAL CENTRE
The Walrus McGill Debate at the Segal Centre-lf We Build It, Will They Come?
Join us for a lively and timely debate featuring Simon Brault, author of No Culture, No Future, vice-chair of the Canada Council for the Arts, and CEO of the National Theatre School; Witold Rybczynski, author of Makeshift Metropolis, University of Pennsylvania professor, and Slate architecture critic; and La Presse columnist and Radio-Canada broadcaster, Nathalie Petrowski debating and dissecting city building and the future of culture in Montreal
6pm Wednesday, M a r c h 3 0 , 2 0 1 1 The Segal Centre for Performing Arts 5170 ch. de la Côte-Ste-Catherine, Montreal, QC For more information and tickets visit walrusmagazine. com/events
SOCIÉTÉ IMMOBILIÈRE DU CANADA
Every literary culture has a crime genre, and no two are precisely the same. They are major cultural exports that, despite vast international readership, effectively parse the local id. Ian Rankin in Scotland, Henning Mankell and Stieg Larsson in Sweden, Batya Gur in Israel, Vikram Chandra in India—all hang their societies' tattered undergarments on the global cultural clothesline. No argument here: genre is calibrated difïerently from literature. While the latter is at best a sublime communion between writer and reader—a fathomless one-on-one engagement through lanThe Killing Circle lustily embodies all guage—genre is rather a way of sharing this, and reminds us that without a "be- atavistic, universal fears through rigid ginning, a middle and an end"—in other formula. Crime books have a singular words, without full-blooded, white- function, to thrill, and they are sold by knuckle pop storytelling—we cannot the ton at airports because they mainknow ourselves, because our collect- tain their relevance across cultures and ive subconscious remains unexplained. borders. They are also, necessarily, about Furthermore, a vibrant genrefiction,one place. Most unfold in contained setthat is allowed the occasional day pass tings, and thus become...