John Thieme


Literary forms are products of the particular soils in which they have grown and new settings may be expected to germinate new species. At the same time the notion of 'regional' writing frequently elicits a contrary set of expectations: literature which is seen as characteristic of a particular locality habitually evokes the specificity of its landscape and society through modes which are akin to traditional classic realism. The Canadian Prairie novel is clearly, like most New World literary forms, the product of cultural cross-pollination, and yet seminal twentiethcentury examples of the genre, such as Sinclair Ross's As JOT Me and My House and W.O. MitcheU's Who Has Seen the mW(1947), do little to upset the conventions of classic realism. Their focus is primarily on the small town and, although tension is generated by the exploration of its

relationship to the vast spaces of the Prairie, this focus makes superficial adherence to a fairly traditional fictional form possible. More recent Prairie novels are, however, hybrids of a different kind and many display all the characteristics of post-modernist fabulation, metafiction and deconstruction. As Laurence Ricou puts it, at the beginning of an essay on Robert Kroetsch's Badlands (1975) and the American Tom Robbins's Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1976):



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