Along with Sharon Esson, Bruce Serafin co-founded The Vancouver Review, a periodical mainly devoted to literary reviews and opinions. He died on June 6, 2007. Born in 1950, he worked at Canada Post for fourteen years and wrote two books, Colin's Big Thing (Ekstasis 2004) and Stardust (New Star 2007), a posthumous collection of memoirs and essays that received the 2008 Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction.

In Stardust, Serafin praises independent writers Stan Persky and Terry Glavin with gusto and shares his ire for magazines that were not like his own. His views are similar to that of Brian Fawcett, publisher of www.dooneyscafe.com, a site the first published the majority of Serafin's writing in Stardust. "When I and some friends decided to start the Vancouver Review in 1990, one of the things that most motivated us was our irritation at the so often thoughtless complicity between the government funding agencies and the magazines that they subsidized." he wrote. "... The frustrating fact of the matter both then and now is that magazines like West Coast Line or The Malahat or Event or Prism simply don't need to be concerned about gaining an audience. These magazines won't fold if only a hundred people read them. They won't fold if only twenty people read them. And because they have no real need for readers, they are strikingly, almost bewilderingly boring."

In an essay about Michel Tremblay's writing called "A Chest of Drawers," Serafin once described his own origins as being "a pulpmill town world of screaming kids and kitchen floors dirty with Cheerios and gobs of sticky jam, a world in which my Polish dad and French-Canadian mom shouted ethnic insults at each other (they had an intense sexual love, my parents, but they were desperate, up against the wall, bitterly unhappy)."

He was hooked on literary dreams from an early age. He and his friend used to take the bus to West Vancouver at age 15 in order to read copies of David Robinson's Talon magazine, the forerunner of Talonbooks, that were sold in a West Vancouver bookstore for 30 cents each. He attended high school in North Vancouver before moving with his family to Allenby Landing, a milltown on the B.C. coast. He lived for three-and-a-half years in Houston, Texas, before returning to live in downtown Vancouver, at age nineteen, with his girlfriend, Cate. A year later, she moved out and he found a second-storey room near the Bow-Mac sign on West Broadway. "A twenty-watt bulb hung in the hallway's murk. (I can still small the cat piss impregnated in the hallway carpet when I think of that murk)." He enrolled at Simon Fraser University at age 22.

Serafin eventually gained a Master's degree, in his forties, from Simon Fraser University, and had plans to complete a Ph.D in order to escape the drudgery of his Post Office job. He enrolled to study within UBC's English department but soon discovered he felt alienated to the core. "The professors seemed unaware of what lay outside their school," he wrote. "Most of them had been so poisoned by years of being in a position of authority compared to their students that they'd become childish; and petulance, small-mindedness and a barely repressed anger at other men's ideas and achievements were the order of the day."

"He was a strange, wonderful guy," Brian Fawcett told John Burns of The Georgia Straight, "who should have published a lot more, but didn't."

[Alan Twigg photo] [BCBW 2009] "Literary Criticism"