Off the Record

Editor John Metcalf has inspired, challenged, and championed countless writers over his long career. In Off the Record, he encourages six to reveal what one rarely discusses in polite society: how they became writers instead of radio announcers or cabinet makers. The essays collected here, each accompanied by a short story, offer fascinating insight into the relationships between writers, their editors, and their fiction.

Off the Record brings together work by six noted Canadian writers, among them the winners of the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, the Butler Book Prize, and the Marian Engel Award: Caroline Adderson, Kristyn Dunnion, Cynthia Flood, Shaena Lambert, Elise Levine, and Kathy Page. Their essays are candid, moving, and surprisingly relatable—providing plenty of inspiration for those among us who want to write.


John Metcalf

John Metcalf has been one of the leading editors in Canada for more than five decades, editing more than two hundred books over this time, including eighteen volumes of the Best Canadian Stories anthology. He is also the author of more than a dozen works of fiction and nonfiction, including Finding Again the World: Selected Stories, Vital Signs: Collected Novellas, An Aesthetic Underground: A Literary Memoir, and The Museum at the End of the World. Senior Fiction Editor at Biblioasis, he lives in Ottawa with his wife, Myrna.

Caroline Adderson is a Vancouver-based author of five novels and two collections of short stories. Her work has received numerous award nominations including two Commonwealth Writers’ Prizes, the Governor General’s Literary Award, and the Rogers’ Trust Fiction Prize. Her awards include three BC Book Prizes, three CBC Literary Awards, and a National Magazine Award Gold Medal for Fiction.

Kristyn Dunnion has authored six books, most recently Stoop City (Biblioasis, 2020). Her short fiction appears in Best Canadian Stories 2020, Toronto 2033, Orca, and the Tahoma Literary Review. Dunnion was raised in Essex County, the southern-most tip of Canada, and currently lives in Toronto.

Cynthia Flood’s stories have won numerous awards, including The Journey Prize and a National Magazine Award. Her novel Making A Stone Of The Heart was nominated for the City of Vancouver Book Prize, and her acclaimed short story collections include Red Girl Rat Boy (2013) which was shortlisted for the BC Book Prizes’ fiction award. She lives in Vancouver’s West End.

Shaena Lambert’s fiction has been nominated for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, and the Frank O’Connor Award for the Short Story, and have appeared in publications including Best Canadian Stories and The Journey Prize Anthology. Lambert lives in Vancouver.

Elise Levine is the author of Say This: Two Novellas, This Wicked Tongue, the novels Blue Field and Requests and Dedications, and the story collection Driving Men Mad. Originally from Toronto, she lives in Baltimore, MD, where she teaches in the MA in Writing program at Johns Hopkins University.

Kathy Page is the author of eight novels, including Dear Evelyn, winner of the 2018 Rogers Writers’ Trust Award for Fiction and the Butler Book Prize. Her short fiction collections, Paradise & Elsewhere (2014) and The Two of Us (2016), were both nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. Born in the UK, she moved with her family to Salt Spring Island in 2001.


Kathy Page

Kathy Page is the author of seven novels, including Alphabet(an Indie Next Great Read of 2014, Kirkus Best Book of 2014, and Shelf Awareness Shelf Discovery Pick), The Story of My Face (longlisted for the Orange Prize in 2002), and The Find (shorlisted for the ReLit Award in 2011), as well as many short stories, previously collected in As In Music. She recently co-edited In the Flesh (2012), a collection of personal essays about the human body, and has written for television and radio. Her 1992 novel Frankie Styne & the Silver Man has made its American debut as a Biblioasis ReSet Book. Born in the UK, Kathy has lived on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia since 2001.


Cynthia Flood

Cynthia Flood’s most recent book, Red Girl Rat Boy (Biblioasis, 2013) was shortlisted for the BC Book Prizes’ fiction award and long-listed for the Frank O’Connor award, besides appearing on “best of year” lists for Quill & Quire and January Magazine. Earlier collections are The English Stories (Biblioasis, 2009), My Father Took a Cake to France, and The Animals in their Elements. Her work has been selected six times for Best Canadian Stories, and appears often in both print and on-line literary magazines. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.


Elise Levine

Elise Levine is the author of the novels Blue Field and Request and Dedications, and the story collections Driving Men Mad and the forthcoming This Wicked Tongue. Her work has also appeared in Ploughshares, The Gettysburg Review, The Collagist, Blackbird, Best Canadian Stories, and The Journey Prize Anthology, among other publications, and has been named a finalist for Best Small Fictions 2018. She is the recipient of a Canadian National Magazine Award for fiction; awards from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Toronto Arts Council; and residency fellowships from Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and the Ucross Foundation, among others. She lives in Baltimore, MD.


Kristyn Dunnion

Kristyn Dunnion grew up in Essex County, the southernmost tip of Canada, and now lives in Toronto. She is the author of six books, including Tarry This Night and The Dirt Chronicles, a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Her short fiction is widely published, most recently in Best Canadian Stories 2020, Foglifter, Orca: A Literary Journal, and Toronto 2033. Dunnion works supporting homeless adults with serious mental illness, and has been a healthy food advocate for marginalized communities in Davenport-Perth, where she resides.


Caroline Adderson

Caroline Adderson is the author of four novels (A History of Forgetting, Sitting Practice, The Sky Is Falling, Ellen in Pieces), two collections of short stories (Bad Imaginings, Pleased To Meet You) as well as books for young readers. Her work has received numerous prize nominations including the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award, International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, two Commonwealth Writers’ Prizes, the Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist, the Governor General’s Literary Award and the Rogers’ Trust Fiction Prize. Winner of two Ethel Wilson Fiction Prizes and three CBC Literary Awards, Caroline was also the recipient of the 2006 Marian Engel Award for mid-career achievement.


Shaena Lambert

Shaena Lambert’s fiction has been nominated for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, and the Frank O’Connor Award for the Short Story, and have appeared in publications including Best Canadian Stories and The Journey Prize Anthology. Lambert lives in Vancouver.


Praise for Off the Record

“A dazzling collection of memoir and fiction.”
—Robert Wiersema, Toronto Star

“John Metcalf deserves a round of applause for bringing together such an excellent variety of voices on the subject of being a writer.”
—Dave Williamson, Winnipeg Free Press

“Metcalf challenges six decorated Canadian authors to consider and share just how they became writers. Each essay is accompanied by a short story, showcasing each writer’s literary identity and style, and providing insight into how each writer approaches their work and their editorial relationships.”
—Open Book

“Carefully wrought, tonally diverse, artful, thoughtful, revelatory, and nothing short of enticing…”
—Brett Josef Grubisic, The BC Review

“If you write—or even just think you’d like to write—you can’t go wrong with adding this anthology to the stack on your nightstand.”
—Miramichi Reader

“The authors’ reflections illustrate the complex interplay between craft and intuition that goes into writing fiction … and provide revealing case studies of how stories move from inspiration to published product. Aspiring writers will be enlightened.”
—Publisher’s Weekly

Praise for John Metcalf

“[Metcalf’s] talent is generous, hectoring, huge, and remarkable.”
—Washington Post

“[Metcalf’s] exacting eye and his ongoing willingness to call out what he considers substandard, inert, or deadening in our literary culture has earned him opprobrium … One need not agree with everything [he] says to find much to gnaw on in his analyses of the various ways literary technique and style … are too often downgraded or outright ignored. … While it’s amusing to wrestle with the temerity and gall of Metcalf’s settled esthetic standards … his achievement in translating this approach into practice as mentor and guiding light is invaluable and we are all in his debt.”
—Steven W. Beattie, Toronto Star

“[Metcalf] deliver[s] a layered and textured narrative highlighting a wide range of writing and writers, one that immerses the reader into the soul of what writing, and thus literature, is supposed to be. And in this, he has succeeded.”
—Ottawa Review of Books

“Hilarious, touching and delightful … brilliant concision and understated humor.”
—Los Angeles Times

“John Metcalf has written some of the very best stories ever published in this country.”
—Alice Munro

“In the past few decades, Canada has won a reputation as a prolific producer of high-quality short stories. Alice Munro, Mavis Gallant and John Metcalf are among those who have proven themselves masters of the difficult form.”

“A master stylist confidently at work in his favoured form.”
—Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature: Second Edition

“Masterful … Harsh reality, hope, and caricature mingle in this tour de force.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)


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8.25in * 5.25in * .78in


December 05, 2023





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