Monday, November 26, 2007

Underappreciated Margoshes

Regina-based writer Dave Margoshes has won two Saskatchewan Book Awards for his short fiction collection Bix's Trumpet and other stories (NeWest Press.) I was happy to hear it. I haven't read this particular volume but if it's anything like his earlier work it's worth reading. As much as one senses that this recognition comes as a nod and a smile for Dave's ability to hang in there (he's been publishing fine poetry and fiction since the mid-eighties) and not really for a best book, it's well deserved. I've always thought Margoshes an underappreciated writer. He's been consistently producing fine fiction and poetry for two decades. I had the pleasure of spending some time with Dave back in the late eighties when he dropped in to the Jewish Public Library in Montreal for a Canada Council sponsored reading. We toured the JPL's collections, which include one of the largest publicly accessible collections of Yiddish books in the world. At which point Dave told me that his grandfather was once the editor of Der Tog (a New York Yiddish daily with a massive circulation in the early part of the 20th century) and he wondered if the library might have a copy of his memoir published in Yiddish in the 1920s. It was quickly found in the stacks. I still have an image of Dave holding the dark, worn volume between his palms, gently flipping through the brittle, off-colour pages, stunned speechless. I suppose some of the reasons Dave's been flying below the radar lo these many years is that he has the misfortune of 1. publishing exclusively with the small presses, 2. writing out of the regions (as opposed to Toronto) and 3. being one of that generation of writers who came into their voices in the post-literate 1980s.

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