John Metcalf’s Shut Up He Explained defies expectations and strict definition. Part memoir, part travelogue, part criticism — wholly Metcalf — it is thoughtful, engaged, contentious and often very funny. It offers a full does of Metcalfian wisdom and wit, and provides ample evidence that neither age nor indifference nor attack have withered him: he remains as sharp, critical, constructive and insightful as ever. Indeed, this may just be his most important and engaged book. Certainly it will be among his most controversial. What his critics will refuse to see, of course, is that it is also among his most positive, that it is a celebration of the best literature Canada has to offer, the birth of which Metcalf himself both witnesses and actively encouraged. Shut Up He Explained is magisterial, a virtuoso performance melding several seemingly different strands into one coherent narrative, which should delight and entertain as it serves to argue, elucidate and celebrate.
“He is among the two or three most interesting critics writing in Canada today…”—The Globe and Mail
“…more than any other single individual apart from Weaver, he is responsible for shaping and promoting the short story in Canada.”—The Cambridge Companion to Canadian Literature
“John Metcalf…one of the leading writers and theoreticians of the modernist short story.”—Walter Pache, University of Augsburg
“In the past few decades, Canada has won a reputation as a prolific producer of high-quality short stories. Alice Munro, Mavis Gallant and John Metcalf are among those who have proven themselves masters of the difficult form, which demands incisiveness and the appearance of effortless simplicity.”—Maclean’s Magazine