A REPORT ON THE AFTERLIFE OF CULTURE
— Emeryville, Ont.: Biblioasis, 2008.
Intricate and tightly coiled explorations of the questions plaguing literature in a globalized world..... Henighan’s readings are virtuosic, and his delicately constructed discussion of the problems of translation underlines the reciprocal relationship of language to culture.
Literary criticism in Canada suffers from a plague of timidity...Our Canadian politesse, which finds any kind of negative or contrarian opinion to be in poor taste, encourages this kind of criticism. We prefer cheerleaders to critics.
One of the strengths of this book is Henighan’s global connections. He is well travelled as well as well read. A Report on the Afterlife of Culture speaks to a global audience (while maintaining the local specificities of its Canadian roots, of course). I don’t know of another recent book of Canadian literary criticism that accepts the challenge of globalisation (globalization?): both the economic and the cultural streams. Henighan treats CanLit within the context of WorldLit.
Stephen Henighan, who is one of Canada’s leading literary provocateurs, returns with this lively collection of essays, columns and reviews challenging the cultural establishment...Whether in his sweeping, historical “Report,” or in his appreciations of international authors, or commentary on the Canadian scene, Henighan is always worth reading. Disagreeing with his many controversial opinions is half the fun.
The noted Geist writer has compiled a nice little bundle of rants, many of which are not attacks on Margaret Atwood, for which he seems to be most famous. If you are one of those people who can read non-fiction in the summer, please attempt this much-needed critique of Canadian culture. Then maybe we can all get together as Canadians and agree to start having more fun, instead of writing books about vast fields of snow and falling in love with animals.
There are problems with Canadian literature, not the least being the undue praise of mediocrity. Henighan does us a service by raising this and other contentious issues.
These pieces provide a demonstration of Henighan’s vast reading of Canada’s and the world’s literatures and languages..... This book both reiterates and furthers many of the debates that have made Henighan a noted figure in Canadian literary circles.
A Report on the Afterlife of Culture, including both its main essay and its smaller skirmishes, is a welcome addition to the undernourished culture of critical books in Canada.