STOUCK, Jordan

Author Tags: Literary Criticism

As a teacher of discourse analysis at UBC (Okanagan), Jordan Stouck co-edited "Collecting Stamps Would Have Been More Fun": Canadian Publishing and the Correspondence of Sinclair Ross, 1933-1986 (University of Alberta Press 2010) with David Stouck. $34.95.

“Collecting Stamps Would Have Been More Fun” by Jordan Stouck & David Stouck (U. of Alberta Press $34.95)

from Sheila Munro
The epoch of most writers is about the same as for NHL hockey players—or less. Few literary careers, or even their spates of notoriety, last for more than two decades.

NHL hockey players often retire gimped-up but at least they have money in the bank. Writers, on the other hand, invariably get shunted aside by changing manners, changing personnel in publishing houses, and generally don’t have much to show for it.

Even worse, writers can get gimped-up psychologically when they realize there’s a fresh crop of brash, photogenic young-‘uns,’ with far less talent, who are the latest flavours of the week. A trailblazing novel from twenty years ago counts for diddly-squat.

That’s why the title of a new book based on the correspondence of one of Canada’s most venerable writers, Sinclair Ross, who wrote a ‘classic’ called As For Me And My House, is entitled Collecting Stamps Would Have Been More Fun. It’s a line from one of Ross’ letters in which he describes his lifetime of struggling for recognition, ultimately dying in relative obscurity in Vancouver, plagued by Parkinson’s.

Ross’ letters are edited by Jordan Stouck and David Stouck (who has written biographies of Sinclair Ross and Ethel Wilson). They reveal the extent to which Sinclair Ross, a closeted homosexual, was acerbically alienated from the CanLit world, essentially angry, despite his affiliations with the likes of Earle Birney, Margaret Laurence and Margaret Atwood. And he was a guy who wrote a classic, a book that has been required reading on high school reading lists for more than two decades, dating back to the 1940s.

[BCBW 2010]