Jan. 19 Launch & Editor’s Rant #1a


The Winnipeg Review was officially launched at the McNally-Robinson bookstore in the Peg. A few dozen of the best and brightest were in attendance. Here’s some pictures, and then the text of Editor’s Rant #1a.

TWR writers Victor Enns, Melissa Steele, Alison Gillmor & ed. Maurice Mierau

TWR broke with tradition at the bookstore and insisted that drink and food be served continuously throughout the proceedings. We hope this helped to benefit the restaurant, stimulate the economy, and water the various book-geeks and civilians who were present at the extremely swanky and classy event.

A panel of TWR writers (pictured and named above) discussed reviews they’d recently done for the magazine, and why they think reviewing matters in the Canadian climate of many books and little to no response by critics.

At the left, Dr. Carl Matheson, aka The Love Doctor, dispenses relationship-killing advice in response to audience questions. You can read his popular advice column right here.

What follows is the text of a somewhat incoherent rant delivered by the editor at the TWR launch. Here’s the live recording of Editor’s Rant #1a. Text of Rant #1, a somewhat more moderate statement from December, is here.

Editor’s Rant #1a

by Maurice Mierau

Winnipeg is a perfect place for book reviews, criticism as it used to be called. Here’s why: if you go to a party in Winnipeg, and say that you’re a writer, your interlocutor will stare as if you are mentally ill. That’s a healthy reaction in a country where the average writers’ income (from their writing) is below $15,000, a country where the university teachers’ union supports stealing the intellectual property of writers, a country where public funders make it easier to be a publisher than a writer, a country where the education system has stopped teaching our own literature, where the so-called leading newspaper drastically reduces books coverage while gradually turning itself into a fashion mag, where universities would sooner bring in Ann Coulter than an artist literary or otherwise, where we salute Michael Ondaatje for giving up a brilliant career as a poet for his plotless historical romances, where we bribe the Taliban not to attack our convoys, a country led by a prime minister so intent on wedge politics that he even takes the time to insult artists.

The editor's new shit-kicking boots, at right of youngster

So, as I said, Winnipeg is a perfect place for book reviews. We’re a place that has never fulfilled its own unrealistic ambitions, we’re landlocked in the middle of a giant, relatively unpopulated country, and we’re seething with talented writers. As a publisher, when we first talked about starting a magazine we thought, well, Canadian Notes and Queries is already providing a voice for dissidents. Then we read the new issue, where Lisa Moore is chided for not filling her last novel with appropriately up-lifting role models for women. Is it the history of Ontario liquor laws that makes that sad province so moralistic and pompous?

I remember some years ago a graduate student complaining to the University of Manitoba about Robert Kroetsch getting another student to read out salacious passages in the work of Alice Munro. I remember because it was me reading those passages. The university absolved Kroetsch, but outside Ontario perhaps we’ve lost the capacity to be offended by anything. Even my son’s grade three classmates cuss like longshoremen. One of our goals at The Winnipeg Review is to be at least mildly offensive. As the American poet Frederick Seidel says, “don’t behave, be brave.”

Dale Cummings, TWR caricaturist attends the launch

Winnipeg is a perfect place for book reviews. No one takes us seriously anyway. You can’t be hip when you’re wearing eight layers of clothing, when there’s so little vehicle traffic no one learns to merge, when your mayor lives in Arizona and may read more books than Toronto’s Rob Ford. We’re the biggest hick town in Canada. We don’t know better than to have opinions. We have nothing to do but read and go to festivals. Winnipeg is a perfect place for The Winnipeg Review.


Maurice Mierau

Maurice Mierau is editor of The Winnipeg Review. His new book of poems, Autobiographical Fictions, is just out with Palimpsest. His previous book, Detachment: An Adoption Memoir, was recently shortlisted for the 2016 Kobzar Literary Award.