Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

John Moss's blog

That Is NOT Who

Eric Duhatschek, Globe and Mail, February 18, 2010:
Hiller, the Anaheim Ducks' goaltender that made J.S. Giguere expendable, is a tall, fluid lefthander that many of the Western Conference-based players on Team Canada see frequently.
No comment. My last blog on grammar!

Dr. That and the Death of Who

I have just deleted my extensive collection pertaining to ‘that,’ the usurper. ‘Who’ as a relative pronoun is dead. I’ve been gathering the most egregious examples of its passing for the last few weeks. This morning, however, the ever-fastidious Russell Smith gives ‘that’ his imprimatur in a Globe and Mail column about asking guests to pitch in with dinner. If Smith has gone over, then my list of CBC newswriters, Maclean’s scribes, and scripted politicians is redundant. In the abject spirit of surrender, I quote Mr. Smith: “The separate kitchen is really only useful for those with servants that can cook and bring out food …” I can hear my mother whispering urgently from the celestial wings, “who, who, who, Mr.

Everybody Drinks, Nobody Thinks

A reviewer paid me a gratifying compliment recently by suggesting the relationship between Miranda and Morgan in my mysteries is akin to Hammett's Nick and Nora in “The Thin Man” series. It turns out there isn't a series, just one novel stretched beyond recognition in a succession of movies. Like Hammett's best known work, The Maltese Falcon (1930), The Thin Man (1934) is familiar as a cultural icon, but I had never read either so I thought I'd give them a try.

Judging the Judges

One of the mysteries that has interested me most over the years has been the absurd and elusive criteria for selecting judges for book awards in this country. Thomas Hodd has written a superb essay, published in The Globe and Mail, Tuesday, January 5th, in which he boldly argues just this. Check it out.

Before taking up writing mysteries as a suitable vocation for a retiring fellow like myself, I taught Canadian literature for decades and toiled in academe as a literary critic. I was in the business of exercising taste and judgement to illuminate literary quality. There are scholars and there are critics: scholars don’t judge but critics do.


We just returned from a dive holiday in the Galapagos Islands. We had planned for three years for this, and it was worth every penny spent, every moment of anguish as we came to terms with the fact that in this most sacred and inaccessible diving destination on the planet, I couldn’t dive. I say “we,” because I think it was almost as hard for Bev to see me standing at the rail of the dive boat, as it was for me, while she sped off in the zodiac to plunge into awesome currents and be surrounded by sea lions hell-bent on playing among the divers and fifteen-foot hammerhead sharks driven by curiosity (not hunger) to swim among them, checking them out.

To Review the Reviewer

Over the years I’ve reviewed a lot of fiction for a variety of publications, ranging from The Globe and Mail to Canadian Literature. That was an extension of my job, teaching university and working as a critic. Now, my major occupation is writing mysteries. I think my past has made me less anxious about reviewer response to my own work and at the same time more pleased by the accolades. But I find myself in a curious position. I still write the occasional review. Do I review as a critic or as a creative writer? A mystery writer? Or as an objective reader (even though there is no such thing)?

Of Shoes and Ships

…and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings.
I said to Bev at dinner tonight, I hope it’s teaming rain tomorrow, then I can stay in and write all day. I paused, then said: I hope it’s warm and sunny tomorrow, then I can go out and work on my wall (a stone wall that I’d like to finish before it snows). How lucky am I, how incredibly lucky! Nearing seventy and there’s so much to do. A new novel, a new wall. The idea is to make them both seem inevitable, like they’ve been here, in the world, forever.
Downtown Bookstore: Owen Sound

Graves Matter

It’s been quite a while, now, since The Hamilton Spectator has published a column by Don Graves, one of the premier critics in the country, and the only reviewer of note to focus on Canadian mystery titles. Recently in the Word on the Street festival in Toronto I sold quite a few books. Almost every sale was to a reader of either Margaret Cannon in The Globe and Mail or Don Graves in The Hamilton Spectator or on The Spectator’s website. Mystery novels have huge sales in Canada and, although often ignored in favour of so-called “literary” writing, some of negligible significance, they need and deserve a sound critical representation. Graves provides this, not just for Hamilton but for the whole country.

Gloria Glendinning, How Quaint

It is irritating enough to endure the condescension of a British writer who knows virtually nothing about Canadian culture, but when that writer is Victoria Glenndining, a novelist, biographer, and critic of note, who otherwise commands considerable respect, it is sad. She was, after all, educated at Oxford and many of us weren’t. For those not up on the international furor, Glendinning recently served on the Giller Prize jury and subsequently, in The Financial Times, September 12, showed clearly why she should have graciously declined. As a mystery writer, I don’t expect ever to be subject to her judgement, literary or otherwise.

Crimes and Punishment

(My response to the escalating and arbitrary divisions between “literature” and “genre” writing, especially in Canada. I promise my next entry will be more chatty.)

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