John Metcalf (writer)

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Not to be confused with John Metcalfe (writer).
John Metcalf
Born 12 November 1938
Carlisle, England
Occupation Writer, critic, editor
Nationality Canadian
Literary movement Contemporary Canadian Literature
Spouse Myrna Metcalf

John Metcalf, CM (born 12 November 1938) is a Canadian writer, editor and critic.

Biographical[edit]

Metcalf was born in Carlisle, England on 12 November 1938.[1] His father, Thomas Metcalf, was a clergyman and his mother, Gladys Moore Metcalf, was a teacher. Metcalf immigrated to Canada in 1962 at the age of 24. It was in Canada that he began to write. In 1975 he married Myrna Teitlebaum and now lives with her in Ottawa.[2]

He has made extensive contributions to Canadian literature through editing, teaching various educational levels across Canada, critiquing other writers, compiling anthologies and publishing and promoting Canadian writers.[3] He is a ``storyteller, editor, novelist, essayist, critic``, and is known for his satires of Canadian life and academia.[4] His writing is rich in intense emotion invoking imagery, which he draws from his experiences as an educator in Canada. John Metcalf is seen as an authority in his field by many.[5]

Education[edit]

Metcalf gained an Honours Bachelor of Arts and a Certificate in Education from the University of Bristol, prior to his immigration to Canada.[6]

Writing career[edit]

His first attempt at writing fiction came when he entered the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Short Story Essay Contest which was followed by eight of his short stories being accepted by the Vancouver-based magazine Prism International. While writing he took side jobs in teaching to keep himself afloat.[7]

New Canadian Writing, 1969 included Metcalf's first published stories.[8] These stories all followed a common theme of youth and their coming of age. Metcalf used this theme of youth and coming of age and the events that shape it, extensively throughout his works.[9] His first novella was published in 1970, shortly after New Canadian Writing,1969, and was titled The Lady Who Stole Furniture. It follows the narrator as he deals with the morality and integrity of his intimate relationship with an older woman, and thus followed this theme of coming of age. It was this novella that first showcased Metcalf's "skill with dialogue, the idiom and rhythms of speech", which is seen in most of his work.[10] Many of his works follow characters modeled after himself, many are young English teachers who have immigrated to Canada and are displeased with the state of the educational system.[11] His first novel Going Down Slow follows a young teacher as described above as he deals with morality in the workplace, and his second novel General Ludd follows the same type of character as he fights the implementation of communications technology in his workplace.[12] The Teeth of My Father are a collection of short stories with the common theme of artists' relationships with society and their artwork and personal life. This theme was followed by, and extended in Metcalf's Adult Entertainment.[13] Girl in Gingham is a collection of two novellas. The first called Private Parts, chronicles one narrators “sexual and spiritual childhood and adolescence”.[14] The second called Girl in Gingham follows another narrators search for the perfect mate through the use of an online dating service, with the undertone being his realization of people trying to invent themselves to fit what others want, or the ideals of their culture.[15] Short story and Novella forms are Metcalf’s preferred form of writing.[16] Metcalf describes that when writing these forms “you got to get it dead right. A beat or two off and its ruined.” [17] Metcalf is a long-time critic of Canadian ``cultural and educational inadequacies`` [18] and published Kicking Against the Pricks in 1982 to showcase this frustration. It was a collection of 8 essays and included an interview with himself.[19] To further increase debate within the literary community he published The Bumper Book in 1986 and followed it with Carry On Bumping in 1988. Both collections consisted of contentious essays Metcalf hoped would showcase what he saw as problems with Canadian literature.[20] In an interview with Geoff Hancock, John Metcalf blatantly states that “the quality of the education has declined everywhere over the last 50 years as the number to be educated has risen”. He goes on to say that he is in “conflict with the dominant nature of North American society" and the influence it has on education.[21]

Awards[edit]

Forde Abroad won the 1996 Gold Medal for Fiction at the National Magazine Awards. The Estuary won University of Western Ontario's President's Medal of for the Best Story of 1969. In 2004, John Metcalf was appointed as a Member of the Order of Canada.

Book Review[edit]

Alex Good of the Toronto Star newspaper, reviewed Metcalf's Shut Up He Explained A Literary Memoir Vol 2, which briefly explained what Metcalf had been doing in the past couple years, but actually focus more on Metcalf's opinions of Canadian literature.[22] It covers his hatred of "bad writing, thematic and political criticism" and the incompetence off the educational system and the "malignantly stupid pride" of Canadian culture. Good believes that much of the book could have been edited out without changing the intended tone.[23]

Selected works[edit]

  • The Lady Who Sold Furniture, 1970
  • Going Down Slow, 1972
  • The Teeth of My Father, 1975
  • Girl in Gingham, 1978
  • General Ludd, 1981
  • Kicking Against the Pricks, 1982
  • Selected Stories, 1982
  • Adult Entertainment, 1986
  • What is a Canadian Literature?, 1988
  • Shooting the Stars, 1992
  • Freedom from Culture, 1993
  • An Aesthetic Underground: A Literary Memoir, 2003
  • Forde Abroad, 2003
  • Standing Stones, 2004
  • Shut Up He Explained: A Literary Memoir Volume II, 2007

Sources[edit]

  1. ^ Cameron, Barry. "John Metcalf." Canadian Writers Since 1960 Second Series. Detroit:Gale Research Inc, 1987. Print
  2. ^ Cameron, Barry. "John Metcalf." Canadian Writers Since 1960 Second Series. Detroit:Gale Research Inc, 1987. Print
  3. ^ Cameron, Barry. "John Metcalf." Canadian Writers Since 1960 Second Series. Detroit:Gale Research Inc, 1987. Print
  4. ^ Davey, Frank. "Metcalf in Darkest Canada." Canadian Literature 185 (2005): 167–169. Literary Reference Center. EBSCO. Web. 25 October 2010.
  5. ^ Davey, Frank. "Metcalf in Darkest Canada." Canadian Literature 185 (2005): 167–169. Literary Reference Center. EBSCO. Web. 25 October 2010.
  6. ^ O'Rourke, David and Kim Jernigan. "Metcalf, John." The Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature. Eugene Benson and William Toye. Oxford University Press 2001. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. Douglas College. 25 October 2010. http://0-www.oxfordreference.com.innopac.douglas.bc.ca/views/ENTRY.html?subview=Main&entry=t201.e1034.
  7. ^ Cameron, Barry. "John Metcalf." Canadian Writers Since 1960 Second Series. Detroit:Gale Research Inc, 1987. Print
  8. ^ Cameron, Barry. “John Metcalf.” Canadian Writers Since 1960 Second Series. Detroit:Gale Research Inc, 1987. Print
  9. ^ Cameron, Barry. "John Metcalf." Canadian Writers Since 1960 Second Series. Detroit:Gale Research Inc, 1987. Print
  10. ^ Cameron, Barry. "John Metcalf." Canadian Writers Since 1960 Second Series. Detroit:Gale Research Inc, 1987. Print
  11. ^ "John Metcalf." Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol 37. Detroit: Gale Research Inc, 1986. Print.
  12. ^ Cameron, Barry. "John Metcalf." Canadian Writers Since 1960 Second Series. Detroit:Gale Research Inc, 1987. Print
  13. ^ Cameron, Barry. "John Metcalf." Canadian Writers Since 1960 Second Series. Detroit: Gale Research Inc, 1987. Print
  14. ^ Cameron, Barry. “John Metcalf.” Canadian Writers Since 1960 Second Series. Detroit:Gale Research Inc, 1987. Print
  15. ^ Cameron, Barry. "John Metcalf." Canadian Writers Since 1960 Second Series. Detroit:Gale Research Inc, 1987. Print
  16. ^ “John Metcalf.” Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol 37. Detroit: Gale Research Inc, 1986. Print.
  17. ^ “John Metcalf.” Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol 37. Detroit: Gale Research Inc, 1986. Print.
  18. ^ Cameron, Barry. “John Metcalf.” Canadian Writers Since 1960 Second Series. Detroit:Gale Research Inc, 1987. Print
  19. ^ Cameron, Barry. "John Metcalf." Canadian Writers Since 1960 Second Series. Detroit:Gale Research Inc, 1987. Print
  20. ^ O'Rourke, David and Kim Jernigan. "Metcalf, John." The Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature. Eugene Benson and William Toye. Oxford University Press 2001. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. Douglas College. 25 October 2010. http://0-www.oxfordreference.com.innopac.douglas.bc.ca/views/ENTRY.html?subview=Main&entry=t201.e1034.
  21. ^ "John Metcalf." Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol 37. Detroit: Gale Research Inc, 1986. Print.
  22. ^ Good, Alex. "Still the grouch, and still essential, John Metcalf's wondering, untidy scrapbook is, like the man, too vital to ignore." Rev of "Shut Up He Explained A Literary Memoir Vol 2, by John Metcalf. Toronto Star 14 October 2007: ID5. Print.
  23. ^ Good, Alex. "Still the grouch, and still essential, John Metcalf's wondering, untidy scrapbook is, like the man, too vital to ignore." Rev of "Shut Up He Explained A Literary Memoir Vol 2, by John Metcalf. Toronto Star 14 October 2007: ID5. Print.

External links[edit]