Progressive politics, ideas & culture


Toronto Life does not publish fiction

This Magazine Staff

You mean, I really have to be able to afford Jamie Kennedy’s restaurant to live happily in this city?
Both D.B. Scott’s Canadian Magazines blog and bookninja have recently noted that Toronto Life editor John MacFarlane has announced the end of the summer fiction issue of his magazine. The following quote is, apparently, from the editor’s note in the August issue (haven’t had a chance to pick it up yet — too busy readin’ fiction):
“We had hoped that some of our summer fiction would – as Michael Ondaatje’s 1987 novel In the Skin of a Lion did – help us discover, or rediscover, how it is with Torontonians. Sometimes it did, but much of it, set in places like Delhi, Croatia and Los Angeles might have prompted more than one reader to ask, “If it isn’t about Toronto or written by a Toronto writer, what’s it doing in Toronto Life? I wish I could say that in publishing such stories we were creating an appetite for fiction. But, while I’m certain they found an appreciative audience, there’s no evidence it was growing. So with regret – it’s been a labour of love – we’ve decided to make this, the 10th summer fiction issue, our last.”
Where to start? The ninj accurately points out that The New Yorker, also a city magazine, somehow manages to publish relevant fiction (and poetry!) every week, not just once a summer. The issue of TL on stands right now promises An insider’s guide to the prettiest pools, frostiest cocktails, must-see movies, no-sweat sports and more. Couldn’t a great short story fit under and more?
Several years back, Toronto Life published a fine issue about how the smoke is a “city of writers.” Have all these writers stopped writing? Someone kick them in the butt. They need to write again.
Maybe Toronto Life could keep their fiction issue going with excerpts from, ahem, great new Canadian novels by Toronto novelists (with important scenes set in Toronto). JM, call me.
Toronto Life has great writers like Jason McBride (former toiler at the venerable Coach House books) covering Canadian writing. It seems odd — really, really odd — to be the city magazine at the acknowledged heart of Canadian writing, and not publish fiction.
I think the saddest part of all this is the suggestion that with no evidence the audience for fiction is growing, we should stop trying to grow it.
What’s that you say? Someone oughta write a letter? Oh,well then: [email protected]

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