In Room’s call for submissions for this issue, we asked writers and artists how they imagine the gothic literary tradition manifests itself within Canada’s own unique cultural, political, and environmental climate. We soon discovered that “Canadian Gothic” is anything but classic portrayals of haunted castles, grotesque villains, and damsels in distress. Instead, the poetry and fiction herein propose a fresh, modern, and distinctly Canadian update on the gothic genre.
Perhaps Eden Robinson, in our feature interview, puts it best when she describes the vast, unpredictable Canadian landscape as a stand-in for traditional gothic tropes: “The monster in the background is the sheer scale of non-human landscape surrounding our characters.”
For this issue, we’re thrilled to have acclaimed writer Aislinn Hunter also share her interpretation of “Canadian Gothic.” In her commissioned short story, “The Grange,” Hunter pays an homage of sorts to her distant cousin Alice Munro (often named a key player in what’s coined “Southern Ontario Gothic”) by playing with the psychological side of the genre. In “The Grange,” a haunting is generated through place as the protagonist comes to terms with her past during a short stay at an eerily familiar hotel.
One of my personal delights in reading and editing Room magazine is tracking the trends that emerge within the submissions and final selections for each issue; I’m fascinated by what’s consuming the imaginations of our contemporary emerging and established creatives. This issue did not disappoint. The writing that follows is flush with family secrets and repressed emotions; unrelenting fear and loneliness; myth and magic; wild landscapes and feral animals; good old-fashioned ghost stories; and disturbing domesticity—think melting furniture, old-growth forest encroaching on a basement, and a couple of very unhappy references to paying for hydro.
We hope you find the contents of this issue as thought-provoking, inventive, and entertaining as we do.