Glover, Douglas

Douglas Glover, novelist, short story writer, critic, editor, teacher (b near Simcoe, Ont 14 Nov 1948). Douglas Glover is an eclectic man of letters whose long writing career has embraced a variety of forms.

A graduate in philosophy of the universities of YORK (Toronto) and Edinburgh, Douglas Glover subsequently received an MFA from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. Born in Ontario to a farming family, he deprecates the colonial and LOYALIST traditions of which he considers himself a product, and he has spent much of his life in the United States. He writes of himself: "I am a nomad, an expatriate, a wandering Canadian (which is worse than just being a Canadian, I am doubly displaced, a Canadian squared)." It is perhaps not surprising that Glover is an admirer of Cervantes' Don Quixote, the subject of his monograph The Enamoured Knight (2004).

From early in his career Glover has experimented extensively with the short story, from his first published work The Mad River (1981), through Dog Attempts to Drown Man in Saskatoon (1985), A Guide to Animal Behaviour (1991), Sixteen Categories of Desire (2000) and the selection Bad News of the Heart (2003). Although extremely varied in character and situation, many of his stories deal with crises, turning points or moments of decision. A striking example is "Panther" from the first collection, in which the crucified Jesus comes to England to confront the cruel Roman centurion Pantheras, whom he believes to be his father. "Story Carved in Stone" from A Guide to Animal Behaviour describes the return to the southern United States of a wife who disappeared to Canada and had an affair in Nunavut. "Man in a Box" from the same collection portrays the life of a mentally disturbed man living in a cardboard box surrounded by idiosyncratic information penned on Post-It notes. Many of the themes introduced are central to Glover's longer fiction: alienation, cruelty, and the difficulties of engaging with and understanding the other, whether that other be an individual, language, or culture. Internal stress on relationships and external struggles with history and the natural world are the result.

The first two of Douglas Glover's full-length works are comedies. Precious (1984) draws largely from Glover's early experiences on various newspapers; although intentionally indebted to writers such as Hammett and Chandler, it is a detective story with a difference, featuring a journalist turned reluctant investigator after a murder in small-town Ontario. The South Will Rise at Noon (1988) is an exuberant near-farce that concludes with a riotous cinematic recreation of a battle from the AMERICAN CIVIL WAR. Both works feature hard-bitten, hard-drinking loners, Moss "Precious" Elliot and Tully Stamper, flawed but attractive characters who have ongoing difficulties in forming and maintaining social and personal relationships.

In a striking change of literary direction Glover published The Life and Times of Captain N. in 1993. Set on the NIAGARA frontier during the American Civil War, it is a dark and violent novel of physical and psychical boundaries, where alien cultures and mindsets clash in a miasmic and threatening landscape. The novel garnered widespread critical acclaim. It was followed in 2003 by Elle, a novel based upon the legend of Marguerite DE ROBERVAL, a Frenchwoman abandoned on the fabled Isle of Demons during Jacques CARTIER's last failed attempt to colonize Canada in the sixteenth century. It details the cultural and psychological dislocations she undergoes, resulting in a bizarre rebirth and homecoming which cast doubt upon the veracity of her experiences. "The wilderness is inside as much as outside," reflects the heroine, an apt metaphor for the unstable and fractured perceptions of the characters in both of these works. Elle won the 2003 GOVERNOR GENERAL'S LITERARY AWARD, and was a finalist for the 2005 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. In 2006 Glover was awarded the WRITERS' TRUST OF CANADA Timothy Findley Award.