Jan 192013

It’s always nice when people say complimentary things about you. This is Marc Christensen on The Malahat Review site recalling a 1981 issue that contains a story of mine called “There Might Be Angels” — subsequently reprinted in my second collection Dog Attempts to Drown Man in Saskatoon (Talonbooks) which, amazingly enough, is still in print. I wrote the story in Saskatoon and in Santa Fe in the winter and spring of 1980 before attending the Iowa Writers Workshop that fall. I was thinking of that George C. Scott movie (not the band) There Might be Giants in which a psychiatrist, played by Joanne Woodward, decides to enter her patient’s mania rather than try to cure him, finding the insanity more truthful than the so-called real world. The movie script was based in part on Don Quixote, which somewhat explains my long obsession with that novel. But the film also seemed to reflect the concerns of the great cracked Scottish psychoanalyst R. D. Laing, who treated his schizophrenic patients by honouring the truth of their delusions. So the ending of the story is an inversion of the normalcy/insanity discourse that governs the preceding nine-tenths of the text. There is also a nice little folktale I invented about three angels traveling incognito on a train together. And, of course, everyone in the story is an angel. When Christensen writes “abroad” he is, in part, referring to the fact that the story is set in Mexico.


…but it seems best to highlight the story written by Ontario-born Douglas Glover, who takes his CanLit background abroad both literally and figuratively to study and challenge the traditions of classical literature. His contribution begins as a railway encounter between an aging, comfortable abbot and a tramp, a set piece that exceeds the expectations inherited from both canon and context several times over – providing a brief but convincing case for the value of homegrown talent in a context of longer ages and wider places.

–Marc Christensen

via The Malahat Review.

  One Response to “There Might Be Angels — A Note on a DG Story from Long Ago”

  1. My husband, an internist/psychiatrist, and I were much influence by R.D Laing in the ’60s, as well as Thomas Szasz and his book The Myth of Mental Illness. After reading Laing’s The Divided Self, I made a dance based on his idea of the “double bind.” The reversal in “There Might be Angels” appeals to me greatly and I’d like to read it.

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