The Bricoleur and His Sentences is about reading, and about writing and thinking conducted with an ardent scepticism, a muscular dance between yes and but. On its way to a lively discussion of literary rhetoric and a gathering of sentences illustrating same, this book formulates a bricoleur's poetics founded in Stan Dragland's personal experience, both literary and otherwise, and does so in the beloved company of other bricoleurs/bricoleuses--writers like Walter Benjamin, Margaret Avison, Michael Ondaatje, Bobbie Louise Hawkins, Colleen Thibaudeau and Phil Hall. One section details Dragland's respectful retrospective disengagement from the literary and social theory of non-bricoleur Northrop Frye. The eclectic and heterogeneous ensemble might be summed up in the words with which Cynthia Ozick describes Robert Louis Stevenson's essay, "Virginibus Puerisque": "an essay not short, wholly odd, no other like it, custom-made, soliciting the brightness of full attention . . . ." All this is prologue to a fascinating array of sentences drawn from novels, stories, poems, essays, songs and speeches, all grouped in rhetorical categories with the fancy Greek names but each pulling its own literary weight. This is a bricoleur's assemblage, an assortment of bits gathered from here and there and stored up against the time when they might happen to come in handy for making something new. | Dragland's work is both an essay on bricolage and an exercise in it. Engaging, exciting in a quiet way, the reader is invited into the process, as opposed to being, as in much postmodern writing, the butt of the process. This is metaessay, but the feel is different: not Donald Barthelme, but rather an old-timer showing the reader how he puts together his tables or murals or what have you. Dragland's essay engages practical and philosophical issues fearlessly, without ever losing his plain, vernacular-based, Mark Twain-like idiom. | Guest editor: Don McKay
Stan Dragland was born and brought up in Alberta. He was educated at The University of Alberta and Queen's University. He has taught at the University of Alberta, at The Grammar School, Sudbury, Suffolk, England, in the English Department at the University of Western Ontario in London, and in the Banff Centre Writing Studio. He now lives in St. John's, Newfoundland. He was founding editor of Brick, a journal of reviews and founder of Brick Books, a poetry publishing house, which he still serves as publisher and editor. Between 1993 and 1996 he was poetry editor for McClelland and Stewart. He has published three previous books of fiction: Peckertracks, a Chronicle (shortlisted for the 1978 Books in Canada First Novel Prize), Journeys Through Bookland and Other Passages, and (for children) Simon Jesse's Journey. He has edited collections of essays on Duncan Campbell Scott and James Reaney. Wilson MacDonald's Western Tour, a 'critical collage,' has been followed by two other books of criticism, The Bees of the Invisible: Essays in Contemporary English Canadian Writing and Floating Voice: Duncan Campbell Scott and the Literature of Treaty 9, which won the 1995 Gabrielle Roy Prize for Canadian Literary Criticism. 12 Bars, a prose blues, was co-winner of the bp Nichol Chapbook Award in 2003, the same year Apocrypha: Further Journeys appeared in NeWest Press's Writer-as-Critic series. Apocrypha was winner of the Rogers Cable Non-Fiction Award in 2005. In April 2004 the stage adaptation of HalldÛr Laxness's The Atom Station, co-written with Agnes Walsh, was performed at the LSPU Hall in St. John's. His most recent book is Stormy Weather: Foursomes, prose poetry from Pedlar Press, was shortlisted for the EJ Pratt Poetry Award in 2007. He is editor of the recently-released Hard-Headed and Big-Hearted: Writing Newfoundland, a collection of essays by Newfoundland historian Stuart Pierson.
A brilliantly realized withholding, prodding [his] readers to think the unruly gap between givenness and wanting--for [Dragland] the space of real poetry. -CanLit || "One of the most startlingly honest books I have ever read. It brought me to tears again and again. When I finished reading it I simply started again and read it cover to cover, shed more tears, read several passages aloud over and over, and after that I was able to emerge." || "Sometimes, rarely, there is art that lifts and exalts - and commiserates - the state of us, holding us in awe for how it reveals. Grace. No other word for it." -reader reviews of *Stormy Weather: Foursomes*
Tell us what you think!
Sign Up or Sign In to add your review or comment.