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Raymond Fraser in his Paris days
May 8, 1941 |
Chatham, New Brunswick
|Alma mater||St Thomas University|
|Notable awards||Order of New Brunswick (2012)
Lieutenant-Governor's Award for High Achievement in the Arts (2009)
Honorary Doctor of Letters degree, St Thomas University (2016)
Raymond Fraser is a Canadian author.
Born in Chatham, New Brunswick, Raymond Fraser attended St Thomas University where in his freshman year he played on the varsity hockey and football teams, and in his junior year was co-editor with John Brebner of the student literary magazine Tom-Tom. His 20-year correspondence and friendship with the poet Alden Nowlan date from this period.
While living in Montreal in 1966, Fraser and poet Leroy Johnson founded the literary magazine Intercourse: Contemporary Canadian Writing. In 1971 he was one of the founders of the Montreal Story Tellers Fiction Performance Group and the Rank Outsiders Poetry Extravaganza. His first book of fiction, The Black Horse Tavern (1973), was published in Montreal by Ingluvin Publications.
During the sixties Fraser worked as a lab technician, a high school teacher, and as editor and freelance writer for a number of tabloid newspapers.
In his 1985 essay "In the End, a Beginning: The Montreal Story Tellers", critic Keith Garebian writes: "Raymond Fraser's booming Maritime vigour and directness seem, with subtle undertows of psychological configuration, like a roaring tide battering the literary shore... Fraser's narrative ancestors are not only the old salts of every Maritime tavern or watering-hole, but also the more commemorated figures of Mark Twain and Hugh Garner."
To date (2016) Fraser has published thirteen books of fiction, three of non-fiction, and six poetry collections.
"Virtually all Raymond Fraser's fiction deals with a time and a place over his own lifetime, and is part of a larger entity covering a very wide range of inner and outer experience, providing endless pleasure, entertainment, and insight, both comic and tragic." ROBERT GIBBS, author, critic, & Professor Emeritus of English, UNB
Fraser’s writings have been praised by such literary figures as Farley Mowat, Irving Layton, Louis Dudek, Alden Nowlan, Sheila Watson, Leonard Cohen, Hugh Garner, and Michael Cook. Over the years he's received four Canada Council Grants, six New Brunswick Arts Board Grants, and the Canadian Writers’ Trust Woodcock Grant.
His novel, The Bannonbridge Musicians (Ingluvin Publications) was a finalist for the 1978 Governor General's Award.
"The Bannonbridge Musicians is well-written, it's touching, it's full of life, and it's funny." ANDRE VIGNEAULT, CBC Radio
"A rollicking tale, well told." WILLIAM FRENCH, Globe & Mail
In 2009, following publication of his novel In Another Life (Lion's Head Press), he received the inaugural Lieutenant-Governor's Award for High Achievement in the Arts for English Language Literary Arts.
"In Another Life is heart-warming and heart-wrenching all at once. It’s the real deal, a genuine masterpiece of storytelling, sadly beautiful, and perhaps Fraser's finest work to date." — Stephen Clare, The Book Club, Halifax
"It's a work of great love... a beautifully wrought story, tragic, poignant and full of rich detail. It's just masterful.” — Robert Lecker, Greenshields Professor of English, McGill University
Five of Fraser's books were listed in Atlantic Canada's 100 Greatest Books (Nimbus Publishing, 2009), a distinction shared by only three other authors.
Farley Mowat called him "the best literary voice to come belling out of the Maritimes in decades." Alden Nowlan wrote of him: "Raymond Fraser is one of the most gifted writers I know, and among his gifts are two that are all too rare: a zest for life and a sense of humour. He belongs to the timeless tradition of story tellers."
In assessing Fraser's poetry book, I’ve Laughed and Sung Through the Whole Night Long Seen the Summer Sunrise in the Morning, the poet and critic Louis Dudek wrote: "The poems have wit and a perfectly authentic consistency — a subtle play against a constant background bass of despair or cosmic absurdity. Unfailingly interesting and impossible to put down once I started. Wonderful stuff!"
Of Fraser's novel, The Madness Of Youth (2011), film-maker Philip Desjardins of Philip Desjardins Productions, wrote: "I'll go out on a limb and say this is the best writing Fraser has ever done ... There are great gobs of sadness, original comic touches and just the right blend of plot and narrative comments to make this a huge pleasure to read and a learning experience to boot. Fraser has always "owned" the restless, wandering Maritimer as a fictional character, but this complex, exasperating 'split personality character Quann' and the believable world(s) created for him is a real coup. There are so many fresh and honest insights into relationships that I haven't come across before in fiction. And having lived in 1960s Montreal — he's nailed that one solidly .... Great job!"
In 2012 he was made a member of the Order of New Brunswick, the province's highest honour, for his contributions to literature and New Brunswick's cultural life.
In May, 2016, he received an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from his alma mater, St Thomas University.
- The Black Horse Tavern – 1973. Revised definitive edition with an Introduction by the author – 2014 (novella & stories)
- The Struggle Outside – 1975. Revised definitive edition with an Afterword by the author – 2013 (novel)
- The Bannonbridge Musicians – 1978. Revised definitive edition – 2014 (novel)
- Rum River – 1997. Revised definitive edition – 2016 (novel)
- Costa Blanca – 2001, 2013 (novella & stories)
- In a Cloud of Dust and Smoke – 2003, 2013 (novel)
- The Grumpy Man – 2008, 2013 (novella & stories)
- In Another Life – 2009, 2013 (novel)
- The Trials Of Brother Bell – 2010 (two novels)
- The Madness Of Youth – 2011, 2013 (novel)
- Repentance Vale – 2011, 2013 (novel)
- Bliss – 2013 (stories)
- Seasons of Discontent – 2015 (novel)
- The Fighting Fisherman: The Life of Yvon Durelle – 1981, 1983, 2005
- Todd Matchett: Confessions of a Young Criminal – 1994
Memoirs and essays
- When The Earth Was Flat – 2007, 2013
- For the Miramichi – 1966
- Waiting for God's Angel – 1967
- I've Laughed and Sung – 1969
- The More I Live – 1971
- Stop The Highway... 4 Montreal Poets: Raymond Fraser, Clifford Gaston, Bob Higgins & Bryan McCarthy – 1972
- Macbride Poems – 1992
- Before You're A Stranger – 2000
- The Black Horse Tavern
- Costa Blanca
- When The Earth Was Flat
- The Grumpy Man
- Repentance Vale
- East of Canada: An Atlantic Anthology – 1977 (Eds.: Raymond Fraser, Clyde Rose and Jim Stewart)
Literary magazines edited
- Tom-Tom (St. Thomas University) Raymond Fraser and John Brebner, eds. 1962.
- Intercourse: Contemporary Canadian Writing Raymond Fraser et al., eds. 1966–1971.
- The Pottersfield Portfolio Raymond Fraser et al., eds. 1990–1992.
- Lion's Head Magazine (online) Raymond Fraser and Bernell MacDonald, eds. 2014– .
- J. R. (Tim) Struthers, ed. The Montreal Story Tellers. Montreal: Vehicule Press. 1985.
- Margie Williamson. Four Maritime Poets: a survey of the works of Alden Nowlan, Fred Cogswell, Raymond Fraser and Al Pittman, as they reflect the spirit and culture of the Maritime people. Thesis (M.A.), Dalhousie University, 1973 [microform].
- Stephen Patrick Clare & Trevor J. Adams. Atlantic Canada's 100 Greatest Books. Halifax: Nimbus Publishing Ltd. 2009.
- Canadian Who's Who. Toronto: Third Sector Publishing. 2015.
- Archival records for Raymond Fraser at the University of New Brunswick
- Raymond Fraser's weblog
- on YouTube
- Interview at Arts East - January 2012
- Interview at Arts East - January 2014
- NBFC Artist of the Week - October 2014
- Miramichi Reader interview, June, 2015
- Interview at Arts East - June 2015
- Atlantic Canadian Poets Archive
- Address to St. Thomas University’s 2016 Graduating Class
- New Brunswick Literary Encyclopedia