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Common ground and the city : assumed community in Vancouver fiction and theatre Banting, Sarah Lynn 2010

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COMMON GROUND AND THE CITY ASSUMED COMMUNITY IN VANCOUVER FICTION AND THEATRE  by Sarah Lynn Banting B.A., Queen’s University, 2001 M.A., UBC, 2004  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in The Faculty of Graduate Studies (English) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)  October 2010 © Sarah Lynn Banting, 2010  Abstract This dissertation offers a new approach to an enduring question in literary studies: how do certain genres mediate an experience of “imagined community”? In studies of Canadian literature, texts are frequently analyzed for how they represent place—and how they evoke national, regional, local, or transnational communities by depicting characters’ lives in place. This project shares that interest in place, but rather than asking how place is represented, it asks what audiences are addressed when fiction and theatre performances refer to specific places. Shifting focus onto these works’ address to particular imagined audiences allows me to consider how they mediate their actual audiences’ relationships to specific places and to other local and non-local populations. Taking novels, short stories, and plays set in metropolitan Vancouver as a case study, I analyze narrative address using the tools of linguistic pragmatics, in particular theories of audience design, relevance, and common ground. I then adapt these ideas to the analysis of live performance in conventional theatres. I find a variety of different modes of address implicit in how these works style their references to the city and its landmarks. All of the plays and some of the narratives address audiences who share their knowledge of certain parts of the city. They offer insight into what parts of a city residents imagine sharing with their anonymous fellow city-dwellers, on what social basis they share these extended neighbourhoods, and what are the limits of this “common ground.” Other narrators address audiences for whom the city is unfamiliar territory. Their narratives illuminate the social contexts that connect people across spatial divides and the various interests that, in the narrators’ opinion, distant audiences might have in being introduced to Vancouver. While the written  ii  narratives address audiences who have a specific amount of knowledge of Vancouver but might themselves be anywhere, the plays potentially produce a “strong” form of common ground by bringing their audience together at a particular site. I argue that this experience constructs what Arjun Appadurai calls “locality,” thus offering insight into what locality might feel like in a modern Canadian city.  iii  Table of Contents Abstract ............................................................................................................................... ii Table of Contents ............................................................................................................... iv List of Tables ...................................................................................................................... v List of Figures .................................................................................................................... vi Acknowledgements........................................................................................................... vii Dedication .......................................................................................................................... ix Introduction: Common Ground and the City ..................................................................... 1 Critical contexts for this work ......................................................................................................6 Vancouver and its audiences ......................................................................................................26 My approach to setting and audience: introducing “common ground”.....................................38  Chapter One: Tracing Address in Narrative Language.................................................... 45 An approach to narrative language.............................................................................................45 My analytic vocabulary ..............................................................................................................51 Self-absorbed speech: the example of Cat’s Eye ......................................................................65 Dissolving the text / context boundary.......................................................................................70 Recognizable landmarks and audience design: the example of Obasan...................................80  Chapter Two: Vancouver Common Grounds and the Edges of Fiction .......................... 96 Cities and narrative...................................................................................................................103 Place-sharing narratives............................................................................................................106 Edge-setting narratives .............................................................................................................131 City-building narratives............................................................................................................144  Chapter Three: Theatre and Locality ............................................................................. 172 The Ecstasy of Rita Joe: national neighbourhood ...................................................................184 The Komagata Maru Incident: an absorbing performance space............................................191 2000: local jokes......................................................................................................................198 The Unnatural and Accidental Women: urgent local investment............................................211 Concluding observations ..........................................................................................................226  Conclusion ...................................................................................................................... 233 Notes ............................................................................................................................... 253 Works Cited .................................................................................................................... 278 Appendix: Prince’s “Familiarity Scale”......................................................................... 301  iv  List of Tables Table 1. Prince's “familiarity scale” with examples ...................................................... 301	
    v  List of Figures Figure 1. The Jade Peony's extended neighbourhood in regional context..................... 116	
   Figure 2. The Jade Peony's extended neighbourhood (detail) ....................................... 117	
    vi  Acknowledgements It is a sincere pleasure to acknowledge the many people who have supported me during my work on this project: many of its best ideas and efforts are theirs. I have been fortunate in having the guidance of an exceptional supervisory committee. I would like to thank Professor Sherrill Grace for her energy, critical generosity, and excellent advice. Without her supervision I could hardly imagine having gotten all my ducks in a row, let alone my ‘i’s dotted and my ‘t’s crossed. I owe to Professor Grace as well the idea of embarking on the study of Vancouver theatre that now makes up such an important dimension of the work. Professor Laurie Ricou first introduced me to the Pacific Northwest region and has all along inspired my interest in the thoughtful close reading of place; I am deeply grateful for his wise comments and probing questions. To Professor Janet Giltrow I owe my introduction to—and just about everything I have since come to know about—the powerful and sensitive analytical lenses of linguistic pragmatics. Her work is in many respects the model for my own. My dear friend and admired colleague Maia Joseph has been my companion in the study of Vancouver literature and in the challenges of learning to write and teach. Her insightful responses have helped me untangle many a critical knot. I would say the same of the wonderful group of friends and scholars at UBC from whose work in rhetorical studies I have learned much and taken encouragement—perhaps especially Drs. Katja Thieme and Kathryn Grafton. Thanks too to my other friends and colleagues at UBC, who made graduate study there a pleasure, and to the faculty and staff of the Department of English, who were so generous with their time and resources. Dr. Stephen Ney helped  vii  out in a pinch. Professors Barbara Dancygier and Jerry Wasserman especially have offered me valuable guidance and support. This project was made possible in part by the financial support of a Canada Graduate Scholarship, granted by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. I hope that its findings will prove to be of some value to the people of Canada (and Vancouver), especially the writers, playwrights, theatre companies, and their audiences. Finally, I must acknowledge my family and friends outside of UBC, whose love and encouragement kept me going. My roommates past and present, Tasha Riley, Kathryn Furlong, Judith Steiner, and Clare McGovern, preserved my sanity and helped me think about how to be a neighbour in a city. Jen, Grandma, Kathy and Robert, Keith and Marilyn and the rest of my family in Ontario supported my work on this project (even when they wondered why it was taking me so long). With my parents, Ruth and Gerald Banting, and my sister Monica I have experienced what it feels like to be very close though far away; I have longed throughout this work to share with them the Vancouver ground I have grown to know and love.  viii  Dedication To my families, in Ontario and on the West Coast  ix  Introduction: Common Ground and the City One of the defining features of the current moment of modernity, as anthropologist Arjun Appadurai describes it, is the magnitude of the flow of texts, images and other information away from the places where they are composed: across space, across borders, and even around the globe, into the hands of audiences elsewhere. But, as Appadurai points out, only the extraordinary velocity and volume of this flow, as mediated by electronic technologies, is new (3). Indeed, written texts’ ability to travel, and thus the likelihood of their being read at a distance from their places of composition, has surely influenced how they have been received and interpreted ever since the media by which they were transmitted became portable. Likewise, our considerable contemporary knowledge and imaginative awareness of places elsewhere—even of places that we have never experienced firsthand—is not new. Today, the frequent movement of people away from their familiar localities, for the sake of refuge or work or leisure or war, combines with the distribution of images and texts about places elsewhere across electronic as well as physical-trade networks. Our complicated awareness of places near and far currently “impel[s] (and sometimes compel[s]) the work of the imagination,” as we work to map our localities and to orient ourselves within them and in relation to more distant places (Appadurai 4). (Appadurai published his book on cultural difference in the era of globalization at the close of the twentieth century; the moment he describes is still current, I believe, at the beginning of the twenty-first.) But it has also long been true that “neither images nor viewers”—nor texts nor readers—“fit into circuits or audiences that are easily bound within local, national, or regional spaces” (4).  1  Taking the history of settlement in Vancouver as a temporal gauge for this movement of texts and readers across spatial boundaries, I note, for example, that the Coast Salish peoples circulated and exchanged geographical knowledge and local stories in their movements up and down the Pacific coast and along the Fraser River valley for centuries before European contact. In the eighteenth century, Captain George Vancouver and other explorers and traders returned from Salish territory to Europe with maps, information, and (no doubt) tall tales about the West Coast landscape, climate, and aboriginal peoples. In the nineteenth century, those Chinese railway labourers and goldrush prospectors fortunate enough to return safely to China after living and working in British Columbia took with them knowledge and stories of the province and its early cities, adding to the information they had already written into letters home. Recently, these early migrations, and these early varieties of traveling texts about Vancouver, have been remembered and re-imagined in certain twentieth- and twenty-first century novels written and set in Vancouver—texts that are themselves widely circulated beyond the city because they are published, sold, and taught across Canada and sometimes abroad (for example, George Bowering’s Burning Water and SKY Lee’s Disappearing Moon Café). I am evoking the mobility of story, and audiences encountering unfamiliar places through text and performance, because the imaginative work that audiences do in this circumstance is no less remarkable for being commonplace. Depending on where we live and what geographies we know, we may have the occasional experience of reading or watching something set in places with which we are very familiar. But for many of us this experience is rare. As readers and as theatre-goers, we tend to be practiced in an impressive art: the art of imaginatively accommodating references to countries, counties,  2  rivers and mountains, towns and cities, streets and landmarks, parks, buildings, institutions, bridges, transportation lines and neighbourhoods, all of which are unfamiliar or only known to us only through representations.1 Willingly, even unconsciously, going along with (cf. Searle Speech 89) references to places that are just a little beyond us, so to speak, we sketch imaginative new maps for ourselves, only bothering to consult authoritative sources to confirm the accuracy of our imagined maps if we wish to.2 It may be a defining feature of fictional genres that they offer themselves “universally” to anyone who can read them, by virtue of being “fictions” and thus one step outside of immediate social reality, and by being published texts, indiscriminately available for consumption. Likewise, it may be a defining feature of mainstream, commercial theatre performance that anyone who can afford a ticket may join its audience (although the “universality” of access to theatre performance is in practice more limited). Amy Devitt describes “a common quality” of many literary texts: they are “read by multiple audiences at different times and places, apart from” their moments and places of composition and first reception (180). One “function of at least some literary genres,” she writes (182), is “to universalize” (183): “to be used beyond their composer’s space and time” (182). But I think that such a generic universality does not make any less remarkable readers’ and theatre audiences’ feeling of being licensed to make imaginative sense of what they read, any more than does our long history of practice at doing so. This sense of license is remarkable because novels, short stories and plays are not indiscriminate in their address. To start with, they are not published, marketed, distributed, or performed everywhere or in every language. They do not all remain perpetually in print or in  3  performance. Furthermore, the paratextual material that frames these literary texts and performances and offers them to the public at large prepares a “threshold” (Genette 1, 2) that, in practice, is more inviting to some than others of those who happen upon it. When texts travel across borders or linger in libraries and archives after they disappear from bookstore shelves, they retain the traces of their response to an initial situation of composition and address (cf. Bakhtin “Speech Genres” 98)—an initial situation that may seem to exclude some readers. Plays in performance, of course, do not travel or linger the same way that printed material does. A play is re-created anew, with each production. Producing companies sometimes adapt play scripts to their own local and temporal circumstances, in some cases changing the setting from a distant to a nearby location, so that traces of the distance between their performance and the play’s first place and time of production are obscured. And theatre audiences are co-creators of the performances they attend (S Bennett 85). Thus, even when a producing company has not adapted the setting to the performance locale, the audience-members’ interpretive work may allow them to imaginatively re-make the play’s address, inserting themselves into the position of intended audience. Indeed, reader-response criticism has claimed the same thing of readers’ interpretive work, arguing that individual readers “write” texts (e.g. Barthes 147, Fish 171, Iser xii), thus, perhaps, re-creating for themselves the circumstances of each text’s address. I argue, however, that in the case of both texts and performances, traces of an address to a particular audience are stubbornly persistent. Even plays may “translate” poorly for audiences with different horizons of cultural expectations than those for whom  4  the performance was designed, as Susan Bennett points out (200).3 If novels, short stories, and plays are among the literary genres that offer themselves “universally,” in Devitt’s terms, in that they permit audiences anywhere, at any time, to make sense of them as they will, they nevertheless do not offer themselves equivalently to all audiences. Novels, short stories, and plays are “filled with dialogic overtones” that link them responsively to the social languages of the place, time, and socio-cultural circumstances of their composition, as Mikhail M. Bakhtin argued of all utterances (“Speech Genres” 92, emphasis in original).4 Moreover, their paratextual frames are designed to appeal more to certain potential audiences than to others. And finally—here I arrive at the point that is most central to the argument of this dissertation—the narrative style in a novel or a short story implies a specific address to a particular audience. Likewise, the dynamic presentation of a play in live performance implicitly specifies an audience to whom the play is primarily addressed, although the circumstances of this address are certainly different in live performance than they are in a novel or short story. This point, that the address in texts and performances is necessarily specific rather than universal, has been made elsewhere.5 I re-introduce it here, in the context of the modern circumstance outlined by Appadurai, where texts and play scripts are among the other media circulating well beyond their initial contexts of composition, publication, and performance, because I want to consider the implications of this specificity of address for our senses of place, as these are mediated by literary texts and by plays in performance. In particular, I want to consider how this specificity of address affects our experience of place as a social terrain: we relate to places near and far not just as solitary individuals but as subjects drawn into relationship with other people, by means of our relation to the  5  places we share and do not share with them. Novels, short stories, and plays all contribute to shaping our awareness of these relationships. One of the contributions I make, in this dissertation, is to direct attention to specific address in texts and performances recognizably set in a particular place. I show that not only are such texts set somewhere that few of their eventual readers and audience-members may be likely to be familiar with, but they narrate and perform that place in ways that address (and thereby construct) a specific audience’s relationship to it. What travels with these texts and performances, then, are not simple representations of place but representations of place that are addressed. In other words, readers and theatreaudiences must somehow imaginatively accommodate not only references to countries, counties, rivers and mountains, towns and cities, streets and landmarks that are perhaps unfamiliar to them or only known only through other representations, but references that come stamped with an address to an audience that has a particular relation to that place.6 In this dissertation, I analyze references to sites within the metropolitan region of Vancouver, British Columbia. While this city offers a valuable case study, my analytical method could be applied effectively to urban or rural places anywhere.  Critical contexts for this work By directing attention to specific address in texts and performances recognizably set in particular places, I offer a new way of assessing how literary texts and theatre performances are involved in constructing and negotiating social relations established on the basis of place. Novels and plays are often theorized as being among the media (or, in Benedict Anderson’s words, the “forms of imagining” [24]) that afford audiences an  6  imaginative awareness of their relationships with other people either nearby or far away. We might think of readers and theatre audiences as coming into awareness of these relationships via literature in one of three general ways. I consider these general ways of thinking to be three basic theoretical frameworks that support much early and contemporary critical thinking about literature and theatre as the media of these relationships. In this section of the Introduction I outline these general theories in more detail, in order to highlight what I think is an important difference between what I am doing here and what has been done so far. As I do so, I touch primarily on ideas that have been important in scholarly conversations about urban Canadian literature and theatre. Vancouver fiction and theatre being my case study, theories of how texts and plays with urban settings mediate relations between fellow citizens and more far-flung communities are self-evidently relevant. Theories of nation—and particularly of how novels and plays construct national community—are perhaps less so. Indeed, as I show in Chapters Two and Three, novels, short stories and plays set in Vancouver rarely assume a specifically national audience, so “Canadian literature” is not an unproblematic frame for this case study. Traditional discussions of Canadian literature have not selected urban settings as the ground for specifically national experiences, preferring rural settings as tropes for a Canadian ethos and communal life (cf. Edwards and Ivison 197). This perception has finally shifted, as Justin D. Edwards and Douglas Ivison argue in Downtown Canada: Writing Canadian Cities (6), but at the same time much recent literary criticism has shifted attention away from the nation, to emphasize diasporic, transnational, and cosmopolitan “imagined communities” (Edwards and Ivison 205).  7  Nevertheless, I situate my work in relation to criticism of urban Canadian literature and theatre. Since Vancouver is Canada’s third-largest city, it does claim attention as a national population centre of some political weight. Also, although the idea of a nation-wide reading audience/publishing market is a fiction, it has historically influenced the ways books are marketed and talked about in Canada, as the example of McClelland and Stewart’s New Canadian Library series illustrates. (The series evidently sought a nation-wide academic audience [Friskney 26, 33, 40]; schools and universities across the country may indeed be one of the sites where a nation-wide audience is best approximated.) And the idea of a Canadian readership for a Canadian literature continues to propel discussion in the popular media (cf. CBC’s “Canada Reads” and Noah Richler’s This is My Country, What’s Yours?) as well as in academic teaching and writing. The idea of a national audience for Canadian work may be even more tenuous for theatre, given a historical emphasis on dispersed regional theatres. But some important Vancouver-based plays do get produced across the country (or at least in Toronto) with the idea that they make a strong claim on national audiences.7 Meanwhile, Canadian literary criticism has emphasized place as the grounds of Canadian national identity “[e]ver since Northrop Frye posed his metaphysical question ‘where is here?’” (Edwards and Ivison 4). Thus any text set within national borders may be received as responsive to Canadian experiences, given Canadian literary criticism’s longstanding interest in discovering “the Canadian-ness of the literature written in this country” (Surette 17). Despite that I rarely observe Vancouver literature and theatre addressing a national audience, then, the idea of national reception is worth bearing in mind. Recognizing the  8  possibility of a self-consciously national reception for these texts and performances highlights their tendency not to address it.8 I mentioned three general frameworks for thinking about how literary texts and theatre performances allow their audiences to imagine relationships with others on the basis of place. The first of these frameworks is based on the idea that readers or audience-members might identify with a community constructed in the novel or play and thus imagine themselves connected by social bonds of similarity or shared circumstances to people who inhabit the novel or play’s setting. Prototypical examples of this idea are early twentieth-century theories of how literature might mediate national senses of community. Early anthologists of Canadian literature may not have emphasized setting per se, but, according to Dermot McCarthy in “Early Canadian Literary Histories and the Function of a Canon,” they insisted on literature’s power to communicate the collective “spirit” of the nation’s people. And in the anthologists’ view, this spirit was principally inspired by Canadian place: “the ‘spirit of place’ or ‘spirit of the people [were] for all intents and purposes, one and the same” (McCarthy 32; cf. also Surette 23). By communicating this national spirit “to the people, for the people” (McCarthy 42), the literary works would bring together Canadians from across the country. The readers whom the anthologists imagined identifying with this spirit were apparently supposed to recognize the national “place,” in the singular, as being coherent and unified. From later perspectives, literary texts would have to encourage identification despite actual geographical diversity, in order to unite a national community. Nation would be constructed by readers who could identify with characters living in distant places. Thus, for example, Morton L. Ross commented in 1979 that an  9  idea of national identification had great bearing on whether a novel would find a “place within a Canadian canon”: If the novel succeeds in conveying what it was to live in a significant section of the country at a significant time in the nation’s history, however gritty the sensation, then [goes the argument] it will contribute to that common, although vicarious experience which creates a group, in this case a Canadian, identity. (Ross 201) So long as a novel is set in a “significant” section of the country, distant readers’ vicarious identifications with characters living there will contribute to a collective identity. Recent critical writing on nation has resisted the notion that audiences might identify with a spatialized national community in any simple way. But it seems to me that these ideas remain current—even if they are frequently assigned the role of outmoded theories that continue to provoke debate. For example, in framing Canadian writing set in urban centres as representative of “the lived experience of most Canadians,” Ivison and Edwards challenge tendencies in the public mythology of Canada and critical production on Canadian literature and culture, which has, until recently, largely focused on rural and wilderness spaces and small towns.  (6)  Canadians from across the country were once supposed to identify with representations of rural life and hence with a national cultural community, Ivison and Edwards suggest, however distant and different those presumedly “significant” rural settings (and their wider regional contexts) were from their individual lived realities. A similar critique of  10  earlier theories of spatial identification is offered by other contributors to Edwards and Ivison’s book. Paul Milton recounts, for example, that so far as he can recall, none of the “Canadian literature” he read in high school in the 1970s or later as an undergraduate student depicted experiences (or a community) with which he could identify—because, with their rural or urban-centre settings, the novels he read offered no resemblance to the suburbs he had grown up in: I came to the conclusion that I hadn’t grown up in Canada after all. My suburban life was not a factor in Canadian literature, contemporary or otherwise. ‘Where is here,’ you ask? ‘Someplace else,’ I would respond.  (166)  Even in this account of how literature set in Canada did not allow him to identify with the nation—because, to start with, teachable canons of national literature are not diverse enough to depict all the different experiences of a diverse nation’s citizens—Milton implies that if the novels he read had represented suburban settings and lifestyles with which he could identify, those texts might have been capable of mediating for him a sense of national community. In quoting Frye’s famous question (“Where is here?”) and thus following Frye in diverting the question of collective identity towards a question of collective place (Frye 220), Milton makes what Ivison and Edwards identify as a consistent theoretical move in studies of Canadian literature. Critics have focused on place as an important coordinate of identity in Canada, they argue, even when recent work “has shown that using Canadian literature to connect ‘a sense of place’ to a ‘sense of self’ is not an easy project” (4). “As readers and writers in Canada,” they write, “we are obsessed by this idea” of place (Edwards and Ivison 197). I would emphasize that place has not just been an important, if complicated, coordinate of individual identity, in  11  Canadian literary criticism. Representations of place have also been studied for their (in)ability to unite dispersed citizens in national community. Region has frequently been proposed as an alternate frame to nation, one more likely to inspire communal identification in Canada (cf. Fiamengo 241, Ricou “Region” 948, Wylie et al. ix): an idea that literary texts could allow citizens to identify with their fellow-nationals far removed from them, thus stretching their sense of shared national community across “vast distances, natural barriers, diverse patterns of settlement, and locally specific histories” (Fiamengo 241) was bound to be problematic and unsatisfying, in a Canadian context, in part precisely because of the geographic distances and diversity Janice Fiamengo identifies.9 The general idea of how literature might serve as a medium for identification with a regional community underpinning regionalist proposals is similar to the idea of national identification I outlined in the previous paragraphs. In this case, presumably, regional readers are supposed to recognize the setting of the novel or play as part of the same regional space they inhabit and hence come to identify with the people depicted (cf. Fiamengo 243, Wylie et al. ix). As critical writing such as Edwards and Ivison’s has begun to recognize cities and metropolitan regions as sites of “the lived experience of most Canadians,” novels with urban settings have in turn come to be interrogated for their potential ability to mediate social relationships between fellow citizens. Cities, like nations and broader ecological and topographical regions, are internally diverse and divided spaces with multi-layered histories and hazy, permeable boundaries; they are places shared by all of their citizens only by way of generalizing sweeps of the imagination (cf. Ash and Thrift 1, Fiamengo 256, Pile 54-55). But critics seem more willing to consider the possibility that reading  12  could allow one to recognize one’s relations to other citizens in the case of cities than in the case of regions or nations, perhaps because even large metropolitan areas in Canada are nonetheless smaller and denser than regions. Peter Dickinson, for instance, writes about a pedagogical experiment in what he calls “resident reading,” where he and a class of University of British Columbia students in Vancouver read texts set in the city in which they were residents. They approached the texts as portraits of the collective self, of how the individual gradually comes to terms with—and by no means happily or easily—his or her affiliation with and participation in a larger community (be that community structured around ethnicity, race, gender, family, work/artistry, sexuality, etc.).  (79)  But while reading these texts as depicting the uneasy affiliations of community, Dickinson and his students also attempted to consider their own affiliations with the various localized communities depicted. Dickinson theorizes these relationships between the resident readers and their fellow citizens as facilitated by the specifically urban environment of Vancouver, whose overlapping spatial configurations (geographical, historical, architectural) insist on proximity rather than distance and compel an interrelationship rather than a disconnection between the bodies that inhabit the city. (79-80, emphasis in original) Here it is the city’s density that might compel interrelationship. But in Dickinson’s notion of resident reading, literary texts also work to mediate these affiliations: “The texts under consideration thus became the means of this interface, […] unpacking the  13  complex social, political, and cultural relations between the overlapping groups and communities that occupy this environment” (80).10 Dickinson does not propose that resident readers simply identify with other residents because they share a setting: he reads these texts precisely as preventing simplistic identifications by elaborating the complexities of social relations in shared urban space. But nonetheless his theory of reading resembles the first of what I called three general frameworks for thinking about how literary texts allow their audiences to imagine their relationships with others on the basis of place. If this first general framework has been part of how theatre scholars have considered plays in performance to mediate their audiences’ national or regional or localurban identifications, it has apparently not been a big part.11 In some respects the terms of this thinking have been different in scholarship about Canadian theatre than in Canadian literature criticism because, in the former, those debating the idea of a national theatre in Canada have been less concerned with the possibility of audiences in one part of the country identifying with characters in distant settings. A national theatre was understood to entail a critical mass and a necessary quality of Canadian-based theatrical production (Salter): enough Canadian playwrights writing good plays earning enough professional productions on Canadian stages. In practice, as Jerry Wasserman describes it, this Canadian theatre took clearest shape in the “decentralized” form of a cross-country chain of flagship “regional” theatres, all of which were supposed to be responsive to “the distinctive needs of their [respective] communities” (“Introduction” 14, 15).12 Theatre production is in some ways such a decidedly localized practice that, when plays are written that represent specific settings, they are most likely to be produced first in the  14  regional vicinity of that setting.13 In such circumstances they are perhaps more likely to produce local or regional rather than national-scale identifications. When these plays tour or receive later productions elsewhere, the opportunity perhaps arises for audiences to identify as fellow-nationals with the characters in their distant settings, but the possibility of this identification depends on how the play’s setting is staged. Local rather than national identifications remain most likely, I presume, if the new production company adapts the play’s original setting to represent instead the new vicinity of performance, as playwrights such as Sky Gilbert (407) and Brad Fraser have encouraged companies to do with their scripts. Edwards and Ivison suggest that urban settings are particularly transferable, at least when they are framed as modern or postmodern spaces of disorientation and emotional “blankness” (200); Fraser’s Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love is set in Edmonton but “could be set in any North American city, a fact that Denys Arcand recognized when he set the film version of Fraser’s play in Montreal.” An off-Broadway production recognized this transferability when they set it in New York City (Edwards and Ivison 201); so did a recent production by Twenty-Something Theatre when they set it in Vancouver. To continue the play with Frye’s formula, we might say that there is here, in these instances, but it is no longer there. If the later production does not change the play’s setting to its own locale, but brings one setting to another the way novels do when they travel, several possibilities exist. The Ecstasy of Rita Joe exemplifies one possibility: when this play got its second and most famous production in Ottawa, it was received as showing Canadians to themselves: although the there depicted was distant, it was apparently received as  15  continuous with here, precisely because it was part of Canada. The play’s setting in “the city,” which may faintly be discerned to be based on Vancouver, was easily enough imagined as contiguous with Ottawa. But Ecstasy seems to me to have been somewhat unusual in its ability to suggest the continuity of otherwise distant spaces with each other within a national frame. Another possibility is that the play’s distant setting be perceived as a distant elsewhere, as not here. Joan MacLeod’s plays Amigo’s Blue Guitar and 2000 are both set on the British Columbia coast, just outside or inside the Vancouver city limits, but both premiered in Ontario. From MacLeod’s perspective, Ontario audiences for these plays found these West Coast settings “exotic” (qtd. in L Johnson 40): somewhere distinctly other and fascinating because different. MacLeod’s sense of the in-Canada exotic brings me to the second general idea about how literary texts and plays set in a specific place might allow their audiences to imagine their social relationship to people living in that place: the idea that, by apprehending their difference from people depicted as living in the text or play’s setting, readers and theatre audiences perceive themselves as divided from those others in a way that spatializes their difference: those people’s place is distant from my own, they decide. This idea of spatialized difference recalls Edward Said’s analysis of European perceptions of the Orient, although the perceptions Said analyzed have a longer history and greater ramifications than those I gesture to. Orientalism is a spatialized field of dubious and imaginatively projected cultural “knowledge” (Said 19), a Western idea of the Oriental other predicated on the “imaginative geography” of a “line […] drawn between two continents” (21). If some Ontario audiences of MacLeod’s plays seem to receive the represented West Coast as exotic, they may be said to perceive themselves as  16  socially divided from the characters in these plays because of their sense of their local geographical difference and distance from the Gulf Islands and the Coast Mountains. In this understanding, social disconnection is coupled with geographical distance.14 This general idea underpins some understandings of regional literatures in Canada and regionalist literary criticism. According to W. H. New, the regional rhetorical position is the voice of the nation’s internal margins, a position of relative disempowerment that need not necessarily be geographically distant from the centre. “In this sense the truly regional voice is one that declares an internal political alternative,” New argues (“Beyond” 17). But geographical otherness has nonetheless been important to both serious theories of regional literature and regional identifications in Canada and saucy repartee in the mainstream media. Depending on the regional theory, in literary studies, focus may be on either the reception or the production of this difference. On the one hand, readers from elsewhere in Canada read the region’s geography, and therefore its society, as distant and socially distinct (cf. Wyile 85; Wyile and Lynes 6); on the other, regional writers construct their hitherto overlooked regions for outside readers as distinct but present and newly visible (cf. Ricou “Region” 950)—or even as consumable commodities (Davey 12-13). Meanwhile, this idea of spatialized social division underpins the longstanding regional grumble that Canadians elsewhere (especially powerful publishers, prize-givers, and critics located in so-called central Canada) underappreciate literature set somewhere distinctly other, such as the Maritimes or the Prairies or the West Coast, because these adjudicators therefore receive their stories as irrelevant, perceiving their own social difference from the people of those far regions (Chong). Writers in central Canada, meanwhile, have been heard to claim the reverse (Marchand).  17  I turn now to the third framework, the one within which my own approach most obviously belongs, and the one that returns me to Appadurai’s insight about how much we know and how many images we have seen of places distant from wherever we are now, in our mobile, media-barraged lives. The central idea here is that readers and theatre audience-members join the various “discursive communities” of a certain setting. In my use of the term here, discursive communities are imagined groups of people whose shared, partial knowledges of the setting, interpretive perspectives on it, and degrees of access to and personal intimacy with it position them together; what they share also differentiates their position from that of other discursive communities surrounding that same setting.15 The first two general ideas understood readers and theatre audiences as identifying with or differentiating themselves from communities depicted as living in particular settings. By default, they pictured readers, audiences, and the communities depicted in the text or play as all situated in particular places. Readers/audiences over here; setting of the text or play over there: even when the reader or theatre audiencemember decides that those two places are identical or continuous with one another, the text or play still travels between setting and audience, intermediating between them and drawing them into a relationship of identity or difference. While reading a text and attending a play worked relatively similarly within those first two frameworks, in this third framework there is an important difference between them. In this case, readers of novels or short stories are not necessarily situated anywhere: they are not rooted in a particular place. They may not necessarily have ever set foot there. But readers may know something about the place in question, in the very loosest sense of “know”—that is, they may be aware of it, have some more or less limited  18  knowledge of it, harbour some ideas or guesses about it, or have some associations with it.16 (Or they may not!) And this sense of knowing (or not knowing) the place is compounded with a sense of how they came to know it or know of it—whether from long, personal, physical intimacy with it, from repeated hearsay, from deep reading or fervent movie-watching, or, perhaps, from a haze of brief, scattered encounters with it in the media or other discourse, pointillist-dot experiences that over time arrange themselves into a sketchy outline.17 Each reader’s personalized “encyclopedia” (Clark and Marshall 54) of what I’ve called “knowledge,” then, may be said to be felt as rather a sense of relative familiarity (as in Prince 233). Readers are not locals or even located, in this framework; they might be reading from anywhere. But they are people with eclectic, personalized senses of familiarity with all sorts of places. I think of theatre audiences as the same as these readers, in most respects. But theatre audiences in attendance at a play are located for that moment of attendance, however briefly. They may not be locals, although it is more likely than not that they are, in certain theatres. But they have arrived at the theatre for the event of the play and therefore can be counted on to have some immediate, sensory and personalized familiarity with the location of the theatre. This matters when the play is set in the vicinity of the theatre, as I discuss in Chapter Three. Encountering the setting of the literary text or the play as it is represented on the page or the stage, the individual reader or the individual theatre audience-member may have a solitary experience of comparing the setting as it appears there with his or her own memory file for that setting. Ah! I know the very street, one might muse; another, Mmm I believe I’ve heard of this town. In a song lyric, perhaps? But this is never only a solitary experience. It comes with the pressing awareness that one’s own particular relationship  19  to the setting differentiates one from others who relate to it rather differently: people who are in other discursive communities, with respect to the place in question. These others, brought into view by the text or the play, may perhaps take the imagined shape of the author, the real-life counterparts of the characters depicted, other readers, the playwright and producing company, or other members of the theatre audience. But those others don’t know the street as I do!, one realizes. And meanwhile this experience of recognizing one’s own particular relationship to the setting represented also situates one in yet another discursive community (or, perhaps more accurately, at the point of conjunction of several overlapping discursive communities [cf. Hutcheon 92]). Now they, on the other hand, would know the street too!, one realizes, although this sense of what is shared may be fainter and less certain than one’s recognition of what is not. When reading or theatre-going makes us aware of our own interpretive positions with respect to a certain place, it also makes us aware of our positions relative to others; this is the important insight that this framework allows. Many of the various, carefully delineated theories of diaspora, transnationalism, and cosmopolitanism that underpin recent analyses of novels and plays set in Canadian cities might be understood as working within this general framework.18 As they relate to my project, these are theories that try to understand the complicated sociality of citydwellers’ relationships to places in and outside Canada.19 If they are not in general especially concerned with how literary texts and plays mediate the sociality of those relationships for their audiences, they are nonetheless interested in how texts and plays represent such relationships, thus offering their reading or theatre-going audiences vocabularies for understanding their own relations.  20  The literary criticism in this vein, in particular, is usually not directly interested in readers’ self-recognition as belonging to certain discourse communities about a certain place and not belonging to certain others. This criticism considers how diasporic, transnational, or cosmopolitan subjects—usually the characters depicted in novels, but often, implicitly, the writers as well—compose new discourses of spatial relations such as “belonging in” and “(un)familiarity with” a particular place. A brief review of two articles about novels set in Toronto will have to suffice, here, to illustrate this criticism. In “‘Streets are the dwelling place of the collective’: Public Space and Cosmopolitan Citizenship in Dionne Brand’s What We All Long For,” Emily Johansen discusses how the “second-generation characters” in Brand’s novel, children of “migrating diasporic characters” (48) who moved to Toronto from Vietnam, Nova Scotia, and Jamaica, use various media to articulate discourses that assert their own belonging in the public spaces of Toronto. They perform bicycle flânneries that inscribe their presence onto public attention (Johansen 56), paint graffiti art that “resist[s] the colonizing hegemony of the city’s white bourgeois élite” (61), and express “exuberant cosmopolitan citizenship” by at least temporarily embracing national allegiances that they have not inherited in celebrating Korea’s World Cup win together in the streets (58). Quite rightly, I think, Johansen treats these characters’ discourses as at least partly addressed to an audience of hegemonic white Torontonians—their performances “force” white élites to “recogni[ze] their experience of Toronto” (55)—although, as she points out, most of the novel’s second-generation characters are not interested in entering into relationship with white Torontonians themselves. They want instead to claim their relationships to the white city’s spaces (58). In my terms, this resistance is nonetheless a kind of social  21  relationship, a relation of mutual rejection perhaps, and the performances and discourses these characters articulate are the media that assert the triangulation of this alienated relationship between themselves, white, affluent Torontonians, and the spaces they differently inhabit together. Elsewhere, I discuss how Brand’s novel itself works as a medium of comparable but slightly different relationships, its general address to an audience who apparently knows the city’s geography well occasionally shifting gear and rejecting their knowing purchase on it, speaking suddenly as if the narrator and her addressees are from quite different Toronto discourse communities (Banting “Social”). Brand’s novel uses a vocabulary denoting national identities to indicate the cultural differences complicating social life in Toronto—“In this city there are Bulgarian mechanics, there are Eritrean accountants, Colombian café owners, Latvian book publishers […]” (Brand 5), for example. But the social geography of primary interest to both the novel and its central characters is the bounded urban space of “this city.” When Johansen identifies the second-generation characters’ friendships and allegiances as expressing what she calls “‘territorialized cosmopolitan’ subjectivities,” she is not invoking a trans-spatial idea of cosmopolitanism, such as that theorized by Kwame Anthony Appiah (“Cosmopolitan Reading”). Instead, she is stressing that their relationships-across-difference are located and performed in a single place: they express subjectivities with multiple affiliations and across axes of gender, ethnicity, class and sexuality which are not uprooted or free-floating but are principally and firmly located in the physicality of [in this case] Toronto.  (Johansen 49)  But if Toronto and other major metropolitan centres are cosmopolitan places because the world’s cultures commingle there (cf. Ball 185), they are also frequently  22  theorized, rather differently, as the sites of cosmopolitan identifications because their residents are involved in social relationships with people in other places, too. In “Duelling and Dwelling in Toronto and London: Transnational Urbanism in Catherine Bush’s The Rules of Engagement,” John Clement Ball suggests that London, England, is precisely such a site, although he uses a vocabulary of transnationalism rather than cosmopolitanism.20 While living as an expatriate in London, the Canadian protagonist of Bush’s novel comes to recognize her own social and political relations to people elsewhere, including Toronto, her abandoned home, by means of an accumulated “imaginative awareness and understanding” (Ball 192). Having traveled, done historical research, and fallen in love “with a racial and national ‘other’” (187), the protagonist develops for herself a personalized discourse, or a “mental map” (188), that “figures [London] most importantly as an international contact zone” (196)—a space, in other words, by way of which she is brought into relationship with people elsewhere (189). Ball does not comment on how Bush’s novel might serve to mediate a similar sort of mental mapping for its readers. Perhaps because audiences are so conspicuously present in the theatre, scholarship on Canadian transnational or diasporic theatre is somewhat more interested in how plays prompt audiences’ self-recognition as belonging to certain discourse communities surrounding a place than literary critics are in how novels do the same.21 Once again, I will just touch on two recent articles as examples. In “Diaspora and the Theatre of the Nation,” Aparna Dharwadker compares the work of the Montréal-based, South Asian Canadian theatre company Teesri Duniya to that of the largely India-based theatre companies that tour plays in the United States. She argues that Teesri Duniya’s plays  23  construct a diasporic Indian-Canadian subjectivity, one that complicates “a foundational ‘Indianness’ by the fact of distance” and by engaging “the unique cultural-political and discursive contexts of Canadian multiculturalism” (316). Set in Montréal and examining “the pervasive ‘experience of minority’” shared by many different groups in Canada (310), Teesri Duniya’s resident plays are different from those of the traveling “theatre of non-residence,” as she terms the Indian touring plays in the United States (317), because the latter, as “imports immersed in the culture of home, […] affirm the ‘Indianness’ of audiences in the diaspora” (323). Dharwadker does not directly address the question of what discursive communities the audiences of Teesri Duniya’s plays might inhabit. But her discussion of the touring plays suggests that they rely on and “affirm” their audiences’ belonging to communities that are deeply familiar with and attached to India, even while not residing there.22 These audiences relate to the characters in India as their fellow-nationals; the plays mediate a relationship of affiliation that draws across international space. By implication, perhaps, then, Teesri Duniya’s plays articulate discourses of complicated belonging that mediate relationships specifically located in Montréal, since these plays “deal with ‘here’ Canada, and not with ‘there,’ halfway across the world” (Uma Parameswaran qtd. in Dharwadker 305). Dharwadker reads these different kinds of diasporic theatre as primarily engaging audiences whose foremost attachments are to each play’s specific geographical setting and locally-embedded societies (Montreal, in the case of Teesri Duniya, and India, in the case of the touring companies). In “Globalisation’s Marginalia: Anglo-Canadian Identity and the Plays of Brad Fraser,” Roberta Mock examines a different scenario: plays set in Canada that engage different discursive communities when they are staged in  24  different locations. “[Brad] Fraser’s mature plays tend to be set in specific Canadian urban environments and all contain references that will only be understood by Canadians (or those who have lived in Canada),” Mock asserts (92). But they have “international appeal” (86), despite that audiences elsewhere are left outside one of the play’s discursive communities, living outside of Canada and therefore having missed Canadian television (92) and remaining unfamiliar with details such as Canadian postal codes (86). Fraser’s plays address other discursive communities, to which these non-Canadian audiences do belong, by using “transnational strategies of subversion [and] drawing on international postmodern vocabularies of queer and feminist cultural politics” (87). Obscure Canadian references “d[o not] need subtitles on non-Canadian stages, because […] the meaning of the words are of less importance here than the parodic strategy of their performance” (92).23 The central difference between the plays and audiences Dharwadker and Mock discuss may be the different degrees of geographical embeddedness of the cultures represented and critiqued onstage: the Indian-diaspora plays engage political problematics that are embedded in national frameworks and hence geographies (respectively Canadian and Indian); Fraser’s plays engage queer politics and parody in a globalized urban modernity (Mock 92) that is not necessarily located in a Canadian geography. Accordingly, Dharwadker’s and Mock’s analyses respectively treat and do not treat audiences as drawn into specifically spatialized relationships with the other members of the discursive communities they join while they are watching the play. My own work, in this dissertation, introduces to literary criticism an attention, of the kind exemplified by theatre scholars such as Dharwadker and Mock, to how novels, short stories and plays might serve to mediate the sociality of relationships to place.  25  Rather than focusing on how the complicated social relations of cross-spatial affiliation or territorialized cosmopolitanism are represented in texts and plays set in Vancouver, I look at how these and other relationships are mediated by those texts and plays. I am therefore not immediately interested in whether readers and theatre-audiences might identify with characters or perceive them as other, or even whether readers might recognize the settings constructed on the page as continuous with their own locations or not. (In the case of theatre, however, I do investigate in how audience-members might be brought to recognize similar continuities.) Generally, I am interested in how readers and audiences might perceive their position inside or outside discursive communities that know the setting well. More crucially, the move I make is to consider how readers’ and audiences’ recognition of their own insider/outsider positioning might be affected by the fact that references to specific places in these texts come “stamped,” as I put it earlier, with an address to a particular audience with a specific relationship to that place. This move is my contribution.  Vancouver and its audiences One of my motivations in pursuing this project has been to remind us of the remarkable feat that I described above, of readers and theatre-goers easily accommodating references to places they do not know, despite the fact that these texts do not always address them or give them much help in doing so. I cannot do much more here than simply acknowledge this feat and how frequently we perform it. My project does, however, take up some of its implications by way of considering as a special case  26  the circumstance where a reader does recognize places he or she knows well when they are referred to in a novel, short story, or play. Another motivation has been my awareness that some places are more extensively depicted and written about than others. Literary settings, then, are not all created equal. Cities are more likely to be represented as specific, recognizable sites than are rural towns or counties, for instance. Cities are dense with people who might choose to represent them, and they host the offices of major media companies that may broadcast their stories, news, and images widely.24 Hence, to some degree, the larger and older the city, and the more pronounced its investments in media and cultural industries, the greater will be its footprint on the map of internationally recognizable literary settings, so to speak. But other factors may influence a city’s literary footprint as well. For instance, the narrator of Michael Slade’s novel Headhunter ranks the “physical setting” of Vancouver among the world’s six most impressive city sites, implying as he does so a correspondence between impressive physical geography and impact as a literary setting: It is common knowledge […] that for physical setting there are only six great cities in the world. Rio de Janeiro, Sydney, Cape Town, Hong Kong and San Francisco: these are five of them. Vancouver is the sixth one.  (25)25  Slade’s declaration here, however, turns on a joke about “common knowledge” that coyly admits that Vancouver, among others its equal in topographical greatness, is not widely known or widely remembered—even though its site makes it so potentially great a setting. A capital city’s centralization of political activity and decisive power also establishes it on certain maps. In his influential book, Imagined Communities, Anderson  27  discusses references to “a house on Anloague Street,” in Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, in José Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere (Anderson 27). Anderson implies that Filipino-national readers are precisely the audience presumed to recognize the house referred to in Rizal’s novel, thus suggesting a link between the preeminence and centralizing force of a capital city in national citizens’ imaginations and the likelihood of that city’s geography being represented as recognizable in nationalist literature.26 But one of the factors that influences the size of any city’s literary footprint is its particular national context. In Canada the national capital is less populous and therefore, perhaps, apparently less storied as a specific geography than the industrial and financial centres Toronto, Montreal, and even Vancouver.27 In Canada, moreover, even the larger cities were for a while overlooked as literary settings that might invite a national readership’s recognition and identification, despite these cities’ relatively prominent footprints in media coverage and their relative power, as centres of publishing and the academic production of knowledge, to influence what representations of Canadian life are disseminated, discussed and canonized (Edwards and Ivison 197). They are no longer ignored, as settings, thanks to the work of scholars such as Edwards and Ivison and the contributors to their book, Downtown Canada. But we cannot fall back on assumptions, like the one Anderson implies, about texts and plays set in these cities appealing to a specifically national audience. Michael Turner, a Vancouver-based writer who has set several of his works deliberately in Vancouver (e.g. Kingsway, The Pornographer’s Poem), has decided to make the setting of his most recent novel indefinite. “None of the subjects are named, and neither is the city where they live,” writes journalist Alexander Varty about Turner’s  28  new book. He quotes Turner as explaining, “I wanted my book to make sense if it were being read in Vancouver or Cape Town or Karachi or Buenos Aires.” Turner implies that particularlized settings make sense only, or especially, to particular audiences. It is hard not to read in Turner’s comment a desire to escape the perceived parochialism of Vancouver as a setting. Another Vancouver-based novelist, Kevin Chong, has complained about such limitations in the popular Vancouver newsmagazine The Georgia Straight: “Living in a city that’s neither big nor small, Vancouver writers, in some respects, have the worst of both worlds,” Chong writes. In Chong’s opinion, Vancouver is at once too big to live in affordably and too small and insignificant to provide its writers with powerful publishing contacts or a setting that whets readers’ appetites. Vancouver writers, he claims, cannot “write about our hometown in the same way a London or Paris writer can casually name-drop neighbourhoods to a cosmopolitan (or at least aspirational) readership” (Chong “Writers”).28 Chong’s argument is no longer entirely true, in my estimation. In Chapter Two I discuss novels that appear to presume a worldly appetite for a Vancouver setting and take the liberty of “name-dropping” certain landmarks as if they are indeed widely recognizable to an international audience. But Vancouver is a productive site for my investigation precisely because it is even yet in an uncertain position between those “world cities” which are widely mediated and well enough established as literary settings to command international name-recognition, and those “provincial” centres that might be presumed to resonate with only regional audiences. Vancouver is currently balanced at what David Whitson calls “the periphery of the centre,” as a site for the settings of novels, short stories or plays. It is a big, diverse city, internationally known in some  29  skiing, urban planning, and tourism circles, but not equally as widely known or as rich in cultural cachet as are London or Paris, as Chong complains, or even Toronto or Montreal. And it is a Canadian city. Hence Vancouver’s local writing and theatre has to compete for the attention even of Canadian audiences against the more established culture industries and literary settings of the United States and England, as has long and famously been the case in Canada, even while it has the advantage of association with a national literature that has been notably successful recently in international literary prize competitions (Sugars 80). Whitson’s phrase, “the periphery of the centre,” actually refers to Canada (1215), not Vancouver, and to Canadian cities’ relative international prominence as possible hosts for major sporting events, rather than their appeal as possible settings for novels or plays. Canada is not a peripheral country by most standards. However, since the 1960s, Canadian cities have sought to change the somewhat provincial image they have historically had, and they have used mega-events such as the Olympic Games […] to reposition themselves on the world stage.  (Whitson 1215)  Vancouver’s peripheral relation to the centre of the “world stage” resembles Canada’s own as described here. I drafted this Introduction on the eve of the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, an event which organizers and city officials hoped would attract international attention to the city and register its major landmarks firmly on an affluent, consumer consciousness worldwide. (Whether or not it succeeded in any lasting way is, I believe, still a matter of some debate.) The recent Vancouver novels whose narrators confidently assume for themselves an international audience have already taken a similar  30  step of producing a receptive position for an audience that recognizes this city as an appealing, plausible, somewhat familiar setting for a novel. They have done so without the powerful financial and political machinery behind an Olympic event; indeed, the force of their narrative assumptions is no more powerful than an attempted speech act awaiting receptive uptake. When these novels’ references to recognizable Vancouver landmarks reach actual readers, they contend with those readers’ diverse, idiosyncratic amounts of knowledge of the city. Poised now on the periphery of the centre and becoming more readily available as a certain kind of literary setting, in some writers’ and publishers’ minds, the city has nevertheless had its history of being read as too unknown for an author to use certain rhetorical moves to establish a setting. For example, reading the following review of an early Vancouver novel in a 1919 issue of The Canadian Bookman, it is hard to imagine that its criticisms would be put quite the same way, if the setting were established in the same manner but the references were to a higher-profile city. It is worth quoting at length from this review: English Bay, Vancouver, is beyond all doubt the world’s ideal spot for lovemaking in a canoe; but the reader who has not seen it will hardly imagine it from Robert Allison Hood’s description of its charms at sundown: The shimmering tints of crimson and violet and yellow and gold; the opalescent splendors as the radiance gradually dies away, the dark blues and purples of the hills outlined against the sky; the flickering lights of the fishing boats away out near the horizon; and then, landward, the beach full of people, and behind, the town all cheery with its street lamps and its countless gleaming windows.  31  All of these things are common to several thousand other bays on the world’s surface, and strangely fail to evoke the characteristic quality of English Bay. Nor does the enumeration of such names as ‘Second Beach,’ ‘Ferguson Point,’ ‘Stanley Park,’ ‘Point Atkinson’ do any more for us, though to the writer those terms are doubtless loaded with poetic significance, derived from his personal (“A Vancouver Novel”)29  experiences.  No doubt Hood’s novel is “amateur[ishly]” written, as the review concludes; in the quoted passage, the narrator’s jubilant impressionism does evoke a generalized (and colour-saturated) bay landscape rather than an unmistakably characteristic representation of English Bay. But the reviewer’s assumptions seem to indicate an understanding of how literary settings relate to reading audiences that would require novels set in unknown cities to perform a careful introduction. The reviewer assumes the modern circumstance in which readers who do not know a setting from “personal experience” are an important constituency, a group for whom the narrative ought to “do” things, including reveal to them the setting’s characteristic qualities. And he assumes, rightly, I think, that place names may be replete with significance, for those who know the landmarks they refer to, but empty of this evocative power for those who do not. A novel of the same amateur quality might be set in London, England, and use overly general nouns (like “hills and “bay” here) and uncommunicative proper nouns to the same effect as in this passage, but I suspect that a reviewer for the Canadian Bookman would not have complained with the same confidence about their failure to evoke the setting in that case. He might presume that his reading audience would already know enough about London to accommodate the  32  landmarks’ proper names; indeed, he might feel that to admit his own lack of knowledge would be embarrassing. Vancouver has been one of those settings that would seem to place the burden on narrators to explain and describe, to introduce it to audiences who, more likely than not, have never heard much about it and have no previously-whetted appetite for more stories from its (hitherto) unheralded avenues. To some degree it still is such a setting, despite its pretensions to the world stage. What is remarkable, however, is that while certain novels and short stories set in Vancouver do introduce the city carefully to their audiences, others do not. Perhaps even more remarkably, none of the plays do. This is the writers’ and playwrights’ feat, complementary to readers’ impressive imaginative accommodations: they compose texts and playscripts that play inventively with setting and address, imagining as they do so new audiences and new social relationships to the city that vary widely in their gradations of proximity, intimacy, and sharedness. While most of these creatively imagined audiences and relations might be roughly matched to ideas like neighbourhood, city, region, diasporic or transnational community, or even, in rare cases, nation, they exceed and complicate each of these as well. To further appreciate how different cities’ more and less prominent footprints “on the map” of internationally recognizable literary settings may be experienced by readers—and how they may be playfully acknowledged by texts set in Canada—consider bestselling author William Gibson’s 2007 novel Spook Country. Both the publishing context and the content of this lively, clever novel illustrate the contemporary realities that Appadurai identifies as widespread circulation of texts and audiences. Gibson’s novel was published simultaneously in the United States and in Canada. He was born in  33  South Carolina but has lived in Vancouver for many years. He has evidently traveled widely, and his novels have “been set in “San Francisco, Tokyo, London, Los Angeles and the eastern seaboard of the U.S” (Link 11). Two of the central characters in Spook Country are American, but another is a Cuban-Chinese illegal migrant who speaks Russian, and one of the Americans is a free-lance journalist on assignment for a mysterious transnational magazine called Node, a “European version of Wired,” which is produced by “Belgian money, via Dublin” and staff in London, England (Gibson 2). Spook Country is set mostly in Los Angeles and New York City. I have never been to L.A., and my memories of a single trip to New York are distant and fuzzy, but I know enough about these cities from other novels, as well as from songs, movies, television shows, and the news, to feel a certain sense of recognition when I come across references to the Sunset Strip, Tower Records, Fifth Avenue, Canal Street, or the East Village. (Edward W. Soja argues that “Los Angeles broadcasts its self-imagery so widely” that countless people who have never been there know the city in precisely the way I do [223]; indeed, because L.A. is so thoroughly mediated as well as so spatially decentred and complicated, the city can hardly be “known” except through such mediations [Soja 223-223].) I have admittedly never heard of the New York City locations mentioned in passages like the following: Coming back from the Sunrise Market on Broome, just before they closed, Tito stopped to look in the windows of Yohji Yamamoto, on Grand Street.  (25)  But even here I feel free to improvise for myself a sense of these locations and what they might signify, drawing on the words’ connotations and my growing knowledge of this novel’s setting. Nevertheless, this passage’s multiple and interlinked references to places  34  I do not know make me strain a little to accommodate the unfamiliar without supportive explanation, even as they give me the pleasurable experience of encountering something exotically unknown. What would Tito be seeing, in the windows of this enterprise called Yohji Yamamoto, I wonder?30 Spook Country deliberately plays with the reality that some settings are not so well known to certain audiences as others. The “spook country” of the title is the United States of America, presumably, for most of the novel’s characters are spies, illegal immigrants, members of underground organizations, and black-market profiteers, most of them living in the United States. But towards the end of the novel a group of them escapes pursuit by crossing the border to Canada, and they take pleasurable refuge in a newly secure anonymity here that seems to frame Canada as a perfect new “underground” world—another spook country. When the characters arrive in Vancouver, Gibson’s narrator describes the city from the perspective of people completely unfamiliar with it and seeing it for the first time. The characters perceive it through lenses shaped by media and by their knowledge of other places. The city had been very quiet, as they drove in. Deserted. Scarcely a pedestrian. Strangely clean, lacking in texture, like video games before they’d learned to dirty up the corners.  (254)  This place [was… c]loser to Costa Mesa than San Bernardino, say, at least in this part of town. It did remind him more of California than he would have expected it to, though maybe that was this sunshine, more San Francisco than Los Angeles. […] He looked back and saw an island or peninsula, nothing there but trees, out of which emerged a tall suspension bridge, like the Oakland Bay.  35  (260-261)  In the latter passage, a character named Milgrim registers his first impressions of Vancouver, and Gibson’s narrative frames two of the most famous and frequently referenced landmarks in the city’s literature—Stanley Park and the Lion’s Gate Bridge— as unfamiliar and vaguely perceived new territory. Milgrim cannot see, and does not know, whether the Park is “an island or peninsula.” The city’s apparent emptiness of people and detail, from these outsiders’ perspective, constructs it as a docile wilderness on the far side of a forty-ninth parallel frontier. My reading perspective is that of someone who knows Vancouver well enough to take pleasure in my superior local knowledge when I see that Milgrim has no familiar bearings here. To me, it feels like Gibson is making an inside joke for the benefit of a knowing Vancouverite audience, one who would enjoy overhearing the outsider characters’ naïve perceptions of the city and receive the indirect compliment of having parts of their city likened to California, as here, or to Copenhagen (271). But I am also aware of myself as in a minority, among those widely-distributed readers among whom Spook Country will circulate. Los Angeles and New York City are common knowledge to a majority of the novel’s readers to a degree that Vancouver is not, I presume. And Gibson’s novel seems to make the same presumption, using the city’s status as relatively unknown territory it to introduce the novel’s primary audience as a docile wilderness. Vancouver is named, in the novel, so Gibson’s use of his city of residence as a literary setting does not efface it the way that the American film industry often does. (“Vancouver is North America’s third-largest film and TV production centre after Los Angeles and New York,” and, as Douglas Coupland puts it, “To be blunt, many Vancouverites feel damn pimpy about the fact that we never get to be our own city in any  36  of these movies” [6].)31 In general, cities may be more likely than less populated areas to be named as themselves when they are framed as literary settings, but some cities are perhaps more likely than others to be named as if they are already well-known, in certain international contexts of publishing and distribution. If the global map of literary settings is thus differentiated, so is the experience of being a reading audience for representations of specific places. Reading Spook Country, I am aware of being an “insider,” in one respect, because I have the advantage of superior local knowledge over the border-crossing characters and the novel’s more distant reading audiences. But in the meantime I am also aware of my less secure knowledge of L.A. and New York City, the geographies of which are so comfortably taken for granted in this novel. I am aware, too, of my position outside of communities with the particular geographic consciousness demonstrated by Milgrim and the novel’s other American characters—an audience that the novel’s narrator seems to be addressing primarily. In addition, paratextual information that the novel’s publisher is American and its author has an international reputation makes me especially aware of reading audiences whose limited geographical knowledge of Vancouver contrasts with my own relatively intimate knowledge of the city; because of this information, I think of the international border as the line separating me from that novel’s other audiences. But my description of apprehending my inter-national difference from American readers, in the case of Spook Country, does not account for the potential complexity of how knowledge about city settings is distributed, or of how awareness of this informs our experiences of any given novel set in a particular city. Perhaps no pair of readers ever quite shares precisely the same geographical knowledge and perspective, let alone any set  37  of national citizens. And some New Yorkers know Vancouver more intimately than I do, no doubt. A specifically inter-national differentiation of readerships is only an important context for a small sub-set of the novels and short stories set in Vancouver.32 In part, this complexity arises from the social composition of the modern city, whose spaces and citizens are multiply and diversely linked to other localities, regions, and nations as much as to their neighbours and to the nation in which they are embedded, as urban theorists and literary critics alike have argued (cf. Amin and Thrift 3). It also derives, of course, from the movement and mediation Appadurai identifies. And it reflects the complicated social geography of Canada: a nation that, with its population dispersed in pockets and across multiple time zones, illuminates the problems both with Anderson’s implied argument that (all) national citizens would be likely to know the nation’s cities well and his construction of the nation as a field of “homogenous, empty time” (24). Indeed, in the case of certain Vancouver texts and plays, intra-national differences between specifically Canadian readers more and less familiar with Vancouver form a more important context than inter-national ones. Yet others address audiences who have no particular relation to the nation at all, either as insiders or outsiders.  My approach to setting and audience: introducing “common ground” In this dissertation, I discuss how novels, short stories and plays each address a divided audience. The primary dividing line in question is usually not an inter- or intranational dividing line but one much more unique to the social geography imagined by the particular text or play. I identify how the narrative address in novels and short stories and the dynamics of performance in live theatre specify which audiences are included (and  38  which others are excluded) by the narrator or the performance. I introduce a method for reading the specific inclusions and exclusions of narrative address in novels and short stories in Chapter One, and I modify and extend that method for the purposes of interpreting live theatre performance in Chapter Three. These specificities of address complicate what otherwise might have been a simple differentiation of a given text or performance’s actual readers and audiences into those who are familiar with the setting and those who are not. Both those who are familiar with it and those who are not encounter a third audience, one imagined by the text or performance’s expectations and address. This third group is an audience that has precisely the degree of familiarity with the setting that the text or performance is addressing. Sometimes that address will, marvelously, seem to be designed for just the very person who is reading or attending the theatre: it will introduce the setting as if to someone who has as little (or as much) familiarity with it as the reader or audiencemember actually does. But most often the text or the play will address itself to an audience from which the actual reader or theatre audience-member feels, consciously or not, his or her own slight or great difference. In our colloquial uses of the term, “common ground” is a metaphor: it means a domain of knowledge, experience, or perspective that people share with one another, not an actual expanse of terrain that people occupy together. Common ground means essentially the same thing in linguistic pragmatics, the discipline from which I draw the definition I work with here.33 As Herbert H. Clark defines it, common ground is “the sum of [the] mutual knowledge, mutual beliefs, and mutual suppositions” held by a particular pair or group of people (3). While an investigation of literary or theatre  39  pragmatics might explore a wide variety of domains of mutual knowledge, I am taking up the literal implications of the metaphor “common ground,” in this dissertation, by focusing on references to specific places in narrative language in fiction and in theatrical performance. How much of the particular Vancouver geographies that the narrators or performances know do they assume their audiences know too? How much or what part of Vancouver is common ground for this narrator or performance and its intended audience, and what sort of relationship is that portion of Vancouver thus implicated in? What can this tell us about the city as a social space, as it is mediated by these texts and plays? Technical definitions of common ground, such as Clark’s, differ from our colloquial understanding of the term in just how reciprocally aware they understand the pair of people who share common ground to be of one another and their shared knowledge. When Clark defines common ground as the sum of two people’s “mutual” knowledge, he means something like the sum of things that both of these two people are certain they both know. Clark and Marshall offer an image of two people simultaneously, attentively, looking at a candle and looking at one another as an “example par excellence” of people sharing mutual knowledge of a particular candle (38): they are supremely aware, together, of their knowledge of one another and the candle. This mutuality of awareness is more rarified than simple “shared” knowledge of the candle, because it is reflexive and fully reciprocal. Clark and Marshall’s image of the couple with the candle illustrates mutual knowledge as a triangulated relationship, and in this respect it serves as the model for the particular three-way relationships between texts or performances, their assumed  40  audiences, and the places they establish as their settings that I explore in my own discussion of common ground. (Other critical projects might use Clark and Marshall’s image of a triangulated relationship to investigate how texts and performances and their audiences are positioned in relation to particular histories, for example, or cultural knowledges, rather than settings.) The circumstance of narrative language in novels and short stories is quite different than a face-to-face conversation between two embodied, individual people. As I outline in Chapter 1, when narrators assume that they share mutual knowledge of a specific landmark with the particular audience they are addressing, they generally do so on the basis of an assumption of “community membership” (Clark and Marshall 36-38). That is, narrators assume that they and their intended audiences mutually belong to the community of people who know that landmark. Or, more properly, the ways narrators refer to landmarks in these instances, and the kinds of relationship we might imagine existing between the narrators and the audiences they address, recall the way that people speak to one another when they mutually acknowledge each other to be part of the same community. Even in the case of the theatre I discuss in Chapter 3, where the live performance and its audience do face each other in physical space, the circumstances of reference are not as simple as those described in Clark and Marshall’s example of physical copresence. The “candle,” so to speak, is not exactly present in the theatre along with the performers and the audience, in these plays, since I discuss conventional rather than site-specific theatre. There, too, community membership is the basis on which common ground is presumed shared. What makes the results of my analysis interesting, I believe, is that the “communities” in question in the case of these novels, short stories and plays, are at once so various and so  41  difficult to describe using terms such as nation, region, locality, city, or neighbourhood, or even transnational, diasporic, or cosmopolitan—let alone “universal.” In pursuing this research, I am investigating one of the implications of an argument that all language is essentially social. That argument has been convincingly made by Bakhtin, who wrote in “The Problem of Speech Genres” that all utterances, from the simplest rejoinder in spoken conversation to the most sophisticated novel (62), are constituted by their shared “quality of being directed to someone, [their] addressivity” (95, emphasis in original). The same argument is also a central tenet of linguistic pragmatics. In literary texts and in the theatre, as in all other circumstances, language and performance are social: they mediate between parties, constructing and negotiating their relationships to each other. The style of narrative address, in fiction, constructs a certain relationship between the narrating subject position and its implied audience (cf. Sperber and Wilson 217); likewise, the dynamics of performance in plays implies a certain relationship between the play’s producers and performers and its audience. This implicit address is additional to the “dialogic overtones” that link narrative language responsively to other utterances in circulation at the place, time, and socio-cultural circumstance of its composition. It is social in the sense of being inter-personal— “directed to someone,” or some audience, that is, as well as other utterances (emphasis added). Plays are performed more directly for whoever is in attendance, we might say, than novels or short stories are narrated for whoever happens to finally read them. Nonetheless those theatre audiences actually in attendance at a given performance do encounter the play’s implicit assumptions about who they are. The play assumes a certain relationship to its audience, and the individual people in attendance at the play  42  privately negotiate that assumption, accommodating it to themselves or refusing it, as the case may be. Investigating the implications of this language-is-social argument, I observe that when texts and performances refer to specific places in establishing their settings, they construct and negotiate what amounts to a triangulated relationship between themselves, their assumed audiences, and these places. Perhaps a narrator is very familiar with a certain setting but his audience is not, for instance. Or perhaps they are both quite close to and intimately familiar with it, their relative positions with respect to it overlapping to some uncertain degree. In each case, the narrative language establishes a social relationship based on the difference or similarity of two positions relative to a given place. From the argument that language and performance are social emerges an argument that language and performance about place are social: we negotiate our relationships with one another in part through our claims to relative familiarity and unfamiliarity with certain places. Common ground, in my literal sense, is where our social lives intersect with place: it is the demarcation of what places, near and far, we consider ourselves to share with a particular person or community. And its limits mark out the edges of this relationship: the boundaries, in other words, of the terrain we can jointly claim knowledge of, recognize, or speak about. Crucially for my work here, linguistics pragmatics points out that our assumptions about the extent and limits of the various “grounds” we share with one another show up in our spoken and written language. We do not speak or write without making decisions about who our audience is and, more particularly, how much they know about our subject matter. As Sperber and Wilson  43  (217) and others have shown, decisions about mutual knowledge inform our spoken or written style. Thus, when we speak about place, our spoken and written language mediates our relationship to our audiences, and this relationship is indexed to local and distant geographies. Pragmatics theorists do disagree about whether people interacting face to face can really achieve the near-perfect coordination of meaning and near-total awareness of each other suggested by ideas like mutual knowledge.34 At best, perhaps, people in conversation have the potential to mutually recognize their common ground (cf. Sperber and Wilson 45), and its precise boundaries are almost unknowable. This uncertainty makes all the more wonderful people’s everyday ability to make workable sense of each other’s utterances. That people achieve such coordination, estimating on the fly what cognitive grounds they hold mutually with one another, is attributable to people’s impressive social attunement and (in pragmatics theory) to the chemistry of intimate, real-time, co-present interaction. While I recognize that true mutuality is a rarefied experience, then, especially when we move away from candlelit face-to-face copresence into the realms of reading and theatre-going, I nonetheless find the idea of mutually assured, fully reciprocal common ground a useful one to keep in mind. It suggests something about the social stakes of what readers and theatre audiences do when they imaginatively accommodate references to places far outside of any grounds they might reasonably expect to share—let alone mutually know—with the narrator or performance. As readers and theatre audiences in such cases, we are audaciously, sometimes wonderfully, inserting ourselves into a particular misfit relationship with those places and those people.  44  Chapter One: Tracing Address in Narrative Language This city hovers above the forty-third parallel; that’s illusory of course. Winters on the other hand, there’s nothing vague about them. Winters here are inevitable, sometimes unforgiving. Two years ago, they had to bring the army in to dig the city out from under the snow. […] Spring this year couldn’t come too soon—and it didn’t. It took its time—melting at its own pace, over running ice-blocked sewer drains, swelling the Humber River and the Don River stretching to the lake. The sound of the city was of trickling water. Have you ever smelled this city at the beginning of spring? (Brand 1) An approach to narrative language Throughout this chapter I use the metaphor of a circle of narrative address to illustrate what I understand to be the sociality of narrative language in novels and short stories. “Circle of address” recalls a small audience grouped around a storyteller, present with her in the moment of her telling; it evokes the embrace of a story recounted for you, personally, in tones and in a style calibrated precisely to your relationship with the teller and your knowledge of and interest in the subject matter. For me, the idea of a circle of address has come to indicate, as well, the envelope of reciprocal attention that we create around ourselves when we are in rapt private conversation in the middle of a crowded place. In person, the embrace of inclusion in an address can be constricting or hurtful if its calibrations are off; one can feel spoken down to, shamed, ignored, secretly superior. The circle no longer fits properly, so to speak, and we slip from it—or are expelled. Meanwhile, when the story is told in public, there are always other audiences outside the circle; if they are attending to the story their experience of its telling may have social effects for them, too. Translating the social situation of live storytelling or conversation to an analysis of address in novels or short stories, over the course of this chapter, I begin  45  with the circle itself and then move out to consider those standing outside. It is there that I place readers. My analytical vocabulary allows me to identify the specific audience addressed by a given narrative. Or, rather, it allows me to identify the particular relationship to the narrative subject matter assumed by the narrator for her audience. The audience addressed by a novel or short story is rarely identifiable as an easily labeled social group. Instead, the audience is whoever relates to the narrator’s subject matter in precisely the way she anticipates: this audience’s social position is uniquely contingent on the narrator’s address. When the subject matter in question is a particular place, as it is in my epigraph for instance, the style of the narrator’s language implies certain things about how she supposes her audience relates to that place: how much or how little they know about it, from what socio-economic position they approach it, what attitudes they hold towards it. When the narrator of Dionne Brand’s novel What We All Long For, which was excerpted as my epigraph to this chapter, asks whether “you” have ever smelled this city at the beginning of spring, she leaves open multiple possibilities: the audience she is addressing might have smelled this city; it might not have; she has not decided. But her narrative language elsewhere in this passage presumes, at least, that her audience is receptive to being told things about this city that she knows so well. Winters here are unforgiving. The sound of the city, this spring, was of trickling water. Consciously or not, any individual reader of this narrative encounters his difference from her implied audience in the slight (or great) difference between his own relationship to the place described and the one assumed for her audience by her narrative.  46  My approach reveals in narrative language about place a set of relationships, some of them implicit in the narrative style, others potentially imaginatively projected by the individual reader. As philosophers Dan Sperber and Deirdre Wilson observe, all aspects of style indicate a speaker’s assumptions about his or her addressee and about the relationship between them. “Style is the relationship,” they write. Much of what they argue of spoken language holds for narrative language in novels and short stories as well. From the style of a communication it is possible to infer such things as what the speaker [or narrator] takes to be the hearer’s cognitive capacities and level of attention, how much help or guidance she is prepared to give him in processing her utterance, the degree of complicity between them, their emotional closeness or distance.  (217)  As Sperber and Wilson’s observations indicate, the relations projected by narrative language and imagined by readers are social, in the sense of being inter-personal. To expand on Sperber and Wilson’s point, these relations are characterized by degrees of intimacy, inclusiveness, attitude, power differentials, spatial/temporal distance, and precisely delimited terrains of common ground. Narrative language does not just imply the audience’s relation to the setting of her story; it implies things about the relative positions, with respect to that setting, of both narrator and audience. Hence, narrative language implies their relationship to each other, vis-à-vis that setting: who is closer to, or more intimate with, the setting; how much of it they share as common ground; where their shared knowledge ends. Narrative “address,” to paraphrase M. M. Bakhtin, is a social-seeming orientation to another subject’s responsive understanding (“Discourse” 280). Meanwhile, the individual reader may  47  become aware of his own relationship to both the narrator and her implied audience. Depending on his respective knowledge of Toronto, the city Brand’s narrator refers to, and his imaginative ability to accommodate himself to the narrative style, the individual reader may feel himself almost enveloped by the narrative address—or he may feel that he has been overlooked or left out, as if he were standing outside the circle. He may even imagine other audiences of readers looking on, from their respective positions in the shadows. As I mentioned in my Introduction, my approach and my analytical vocabulary are principally drawn from linguistic pragmatics. Paradigmatically, pragmatics attends to how speakers a) index their language to the physical and temporal context of their speaking and b) design their language to manage their relationships to their particular intended addressees and to their subject matter. In pragmatics theory, spoken language is analyzed as being meaningful within the single and unique physical, social, and cognitive context—the single “arena of language use,” to use Herbert H. Clark’s phrase (xi)—in which it is produced. The classic pragmatics arena, face-to-face interaction, is immediate, in-the-moment, and intimately personal (even when the interacting people are strangers). Spoken language is “anchored” not only in the ongoing physical and social context (Goffman 500) but in the particular bodies, memories, and personalities of the people present at the conversation. It involves meaningful eye contact (Clark 33) and body language (Sperber and Wilson 49). It responds to the preceding language of its immediate addressees and anticipates their reactions in thought and language (Clark and Marshall 48; Bakhtin “Problem” 94). And it reflects speakers’ senses of their relationship to the people facing them.  48  The verbal text of a conversation would be meaningless if it were removed from its original context of speech and reception, according to some pragmatics-oriented theorists (e.g. Toolan). The verbal and stylistic indices that originally anchored such a text to its context (such as pronouns, temporal markers, or signs of empathy, motive, or response) would be cut off from their moorings and set meaninglessly adrift. But pragmatics notes that even in these verbal signs’ severed and aimless attempts to point at contextual features that are no longer present, they gesture to the fact that they had once been part of a physical, temporal, and social context of speech. Like spoken, conversational language, narrative language in novels and short stories seems to gesture at a social context and a temporal moment of address. But it has not been cut off from an original context. Rather, it projects its own context, where narrator and audience are copresent in the time and sometimes the space of what Gérard Genette calls the “narrating instance” (213). Roland Barthes wrote: “It is well known that in linguistic communication I and you are absolutely presupposed one by the other; likewise, there can be no story without a narrator and without an audience” (qtd. in Banfield 68). Narrator and implied audience appear, inseparably, as the coupled subjectivities in a storytelling relationship projected by the single line of the narrative text. The qualities of address and sociality decipherable in narrative language may be complicated, indirect, ambiguous, or multiple, and hence in some texts narrative language may be interpreted more easily as unpinned from any unique, bounded subjectivity than as articulated by a personified narrator.35 As they appear in literary texts, narrating and addressed subjectivities sometimes resolve into sharply differentiated “personalities,” but  49  sometimes they are diffuse or shifting positions, too complicated and disembodied to be properly called persons. Nevertheless, I find it productive to continue to discuss them in terms suggestive of bounded subjecthood (as “narrator” and “audience”) because doing so allows me to emphasize the inter-subjective, relational qualities of narrative language’s address and sociality. The complicated subjectivity of narrative modes such as free indirect narration only adds to the richness of literary address and fuels my interest in analyzing the sociality of descriptions of setting.36 Narrative language’s ability to register complicated blends of subjectivities, in ways that spoken conversational language ordinarily cannot, inspires theories of narrative language that present important challenges to my treating such language as addressed (cf. Banfield). But the stylistic similarities between narrative language in novels and short stories and spoken conversational language enable my crossover analysis. Accommodating pragmatics techniques to textual analysis, I position myself among narratological debates which on one side support Genette’s theorization of a narrative “voice” speaking within a “narrative instance” of storytelling (Narrative Discourse 31 etc) and on the other oppose it, arguing that narrative language in literature must, to quote Ann Banfield, be admitted to be “unspeakable” (Unspeakable Sentences.) I agree with Banfield that certain modes of narrative address in novels and short stories may be far removed from the kind of language that speakers might address to each other in conversation. But I consider pragmatics tools of spoken language analysis to be applicable to written narrative language, despite this difference, because I assume that readers can and do interpret the social stylistics of narrative language in literature in ways  50  comparable to how they interpret everyday spoken language—even when things get complicated.37 Among other social aspects of language, readers distinguish degrees of known-ness and sharedness in narrative language according to the same “familiarity scale” that they use in face-to-face conversation (Prince 245).38 I proceed from the assumption, then, that when readers read the inflections of relationship in narrative language, they construct them as if they are marks of address—inflections that indicate that the language is being directed by a narrator to a particular audience.  My analytic vocabulary I here introduce the analytical vocabularies I draw from pragmatics theory, and indicate how I use them to analyze degrees of sharedness, familiarity, formality, intimacy, distance, and power in the relationship between the narrator of a given novel or short story and his implied audience. In this section of the chapter, I will use the term “audience” to mean that particular audience implied by the style of the narrative language: the specific audience embraced in the circle of the narrative address. Assumed familiarity Central to my analysis are stylistic indices of shared or unshared knowledge. When narrators describe a city, for instance, how much knowledge of that city do they assume their audience shares with them? The coarsest index of sharedness is the amount of explanation required: the more knowledge narrator and audience have in common, the less explanation the narrator needs to offer her audience (cf. Sperber and Wilson on “lightness” versus “heaviness” of style 218). Ellen Prince’s taxonomy of given and new information is my primary resource for analyzing stylistic marks of sharedness, because  51  Prince distinguishes in spoken and written language finely differentiated degrees of what she calls “assumed familiarity.” While Prince uses these strictly to describe speakers’ and writers’ assumptions about how familiar their audiences are with certain objects, I use her terms to describe narrators’ assertions of an assumed degree of sharedness. According to Prince, speakers treat objects they refer to in a number of ways, depending on whether they assume them to be more or less familiar to their hearer. At one end of the range are items treated as “evoked”—very familiar because already present in the ongoing discourse (“textually evoked”) or the salient physical and social context (“situationally evoked”) (236). At the other end are items, treated as “brandnew,” which are assumed to be entirely unfamiliar (235). Between these poles ranges a “familiarity scale” of descending order: after evoked comes “unused,” a designator that identifies items already known to the hearer but not yet introduced in the conversation (235), followed by “inferable,” which identifies items whose identity might be inferred from things already evoked (236), and “brand-new anchored,” which identifies items assumed to be brand new but anchored linguistically to some given item (236).39 (See Appendix.) Prince is skeptical of arguments about sharedness, because she sees how difficult it is for speakers and addressees in practice to be certain of what in fact they do and don’t share with each other. She also points out that the term “shared” connotes that speakers’ and addressees’ knowledge bases are symmetrical (232-3). I use Prince’s familiarity scale to trace narrators’ assertions that certain knowledge is asymmetrically shared between themselves and their audiences.  52  As I interpret them, narrators’ treatments of certain objects as more familiar or less familiar make for relational, socially-oriented narrative speech. Narrators usually address their audiences from positions of knowledge. Their telling styles indicate how close to home their tales are intended to fall; that is, their styles indicate how much knowledge their audiences already share with them about the objects of the story (the place where the story happened or the people and things involved, for example). If they pitch their speech high on the familiarity scale, they are asserting that their audiences already share with them plenty of familiarity with the objects they refer to. If they pitch low, they are clearly asserting an asymmetry between their domain of knowledge and that of their audiences: a lack of common ground. For example, the narrator in the passage from What We All Long For treats very few of the things she mentions as brand-new to her audience; indeed, she pitches her language reasonably high on the familiarity scale, referring to things that are already evoked for her audience or are, she judges, at least inferable from her audience’s general knowledge of cities like this one. Her assumption of shared familiarity helps to account for an apparent warmth and closeness in this narrator’s relationship to her audience that persists despite her expansive, explanatory posture’s indication that her audience does not know Toronto. Her style suggests, perhaps, a diasporic address back from Toronto to a homeland audience elsewhere, with whom the narrator shares plenty of world knowledge. Applying Prince’s taxonomy to narrative language in novels and short stories, I find that it cannot quite account for one set of references. These are referring phrases, typically composed of a definite article and a common noun, that treat the identity of their referents as inferable—except that they are not actually inferable from anything the  53  audience has been introduced to so far. For example, the opening sentence of Malcolm Lowry’s short story “The Bravest Boat,” which I discuss at length in Chapter Two, reads, “It was a day of spindrift and blowing sea-foam, with black clouds presaging rain driven over the mountains from the sea by a wild March wind” (13, my italics). Whereas “the sea” is inferable from the narrator’s earlier reference to “sea-foam,” “the mountains” are not inferable from anything yet introduced. Generally, when referring phrases like this turn up, they contribute to the projection of an implied audience that already knows the referent well. The referring phrases function almost like proper nouns, signaling landmarks that have not yet been mentioned in the narrative but are reliably familiar to the audience nonetheless. Read in its entirety, Lowry’s story projects a rather different scenario: its implied audience is quite unfamiliar with the setting. But the narrator judges them to be nimbly capable of accommodating the sudden appearance of mountains. I think of references like “the mountains” as a special category of inferables particularly suited to and characteristic of narrative in fiction, since such inferables require their audiences to quickly invent mountains and other elements of the storyworld. Grounds for mutual knowledge I supplement Prince’s familiarity scale with Clark and Catherine R. Marshall’s vocabulary of “grounds” for mutual knowledge. According to Clark and Marshall, the sources of what Prince calls familiarity are always social. Narrators’ assumptions about their audiences’ familiarity with a given referent always take into account how much exposure to the referent the narrators believe they share with their audiences. In Clark and Marshall’s analysis, speakers treat the referents as either “mutually known” or not. Speakers use definite referring expressions—for example, noun phrases  54  beginning with definite or demonstrative articles (the, that), proper nouns, pronouns, or indexicals—to refer to those objects which they judge to be mutually known to themselves and their addressees, and they use indefinite referring expressions for things not mutually known. This either/or distinction is not as fine a gauge as Prince’s multilevel familiarity scale, but it explicitly offers the social dimension of sharedness that I interpret as implicit in Prince’s taxonomy. More importantly, Clark and Marshall distinguish between three different sources of mutual knowledge. They also point out that the particular form of a definite reference—pronoun, deictic adverb, definite or demonstrative article, or proper noun—indicates the speaker’s sense of the source, or the “grounds,” of their mutual knowledge (34, 43-7). I cross Prince’s vocabulary with Clark and Marshall’s: if Prince’s familiarity scale is a vertical grade indicating narrator and addressee’s degree of (shared) familiarity with something, Clark and Marshall’s “grounds” are a horizontal index of the social source of their degree of shared familiarity. I consider really mutually shared knowledge of the kind Clark and Marshall imagine to be a new high point on Prince’s scale: a referent utterly familiar to narrator and addressee because they mutually share it. Clark and Marshall’s three grounds for mutual knowledge are “linguistic copresence,” “physical copresence,” and “community membership”.40 Linguistic copresence may be grounds for speakers’ assumption that they can use a pronoun to refer to a given object—a landmark, for example. In this case, speakers assume that the landmark is recognizable as the referent of a pronoun because the topic of this landmark is already alive and salient in the ongoing text of the narrative language, and hence mutually known. For instance, when, in the second sentence of my epigraph, the narrator  55  says, “Winters on the other hand, there’s nothing vague about them” (my emphasis), she is assuming that her audience will recognize that her pronoun “them” indicates “Winters,” her salient topic. Other sorts of definite reference may indicate an assumption of linguistic copresence too. Many of the definite references in narrative language seem to assume linguistic copresence. In the storytelling scenario where a narrator gradually introduces his audience to the setting of his tale, elements of the setting landscape will often be introduced at first as new but, thereafter, be referred to as mutually known on the grounds of linguistic copresence. Prince would ascribe these references to the speaker’s assumption that the referent will be familiar to the addressee because it was evoked previously somewhere in the text’s language; Clark and Marshall argue that that previous reference might need to still be humming with the importance and salience that the chemistry of copresence can give in order to be jointly memorable and familiar to both parties (cf. also Chafe 94). Physical copresence is less likely to be assumed as grounds for mutual knowledge of a referent in narrative language, since narrator and addressee are rarely personified and depicted as present together with each other in a physical context. Where they surface, deictic adverbs and some demonstrative articles indicate narrators’ assumptions that physical copresence with the referent is grounds for mutual knowledge of it. Although my epigraph opens with the phrase “This city hovers above the forty-third parallel” (my emphasis), the narrator generally seems to be speaking to a distant audience, not one who is standing there with her in the city. However, in a sense made possible by the disembodied metaphysics of storytelling in novels and short stories, the narrator and her audiences are nonetheless immediately present to each other in the moment of telling  56  (Genette’s “narrating instance”). The speaker seems to expect her audience to be able to identify which city she is speaking about because they well know where she is. Finally, community membership may be grounds for speakers’ assumption that they can use a proper noun to refer to a given landmark. Proper nouns indicate speakers’ assertions that their audience shares mutual knowledge of the city with them because they know each other to be members together of a given community. When the narrator goes on in the epigraph to mention that the spring runoff swelled “the Humber River and the Don River,” she assumes that her audience shares membership with her in a community that knows Toronto’s major rivers by name. Clark and Marshall’s “community membership” is an important idea for my project, since I am interested in how different Vancouver sub-communities might be imagined around different sets of shared Vancouver landmarks. A proper-noun reference to the Lion’s Gate Bridge assumes that narrator and audience are members of a community of people who know Vancouver—or at least a community of people who know this particular feature of Vancouver. Proper-noun references to the Balmoral Inn (a landmark of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside) or the Yaohan (a Richmond shopping mall selling Asian goods) might, in certain contexts, assume rather different knowledge communities. As I use the term, Clark and Marshall’s “community” of those in the know ought to be thought of as open-ended and ad-hoc. It is the set of people assumed to know the particular references at hand, although such knowing may well be imagined to involve and imply other related knowledge as well. This “community,” so-called, need not exist in any sense of being self-aware—organized and labeled with its membership notified—before it is called into being by a narrator’s reference.  57  Clark and Marshall argue that “in ordinary conversation people go to some trouble to establish the communities of which they are members just so that their definite references will succeed” (37), presuming that people make references only after establishing membership (“Do you know Vancouver? Ah, well then you know the Lion’s Gate Bridge and the Ovaltine Café…”). But it also happens that people make assumptions of membership without elaborate establishing moves, as for example tourists do when they approach passers-by on a city street to ask directions to “the art gallery” or “the Sea Bus.” In such cases the tourists assume that the passer-by is a citizen in the know, and that their use of definite references will do the work of establishing them as members with the passer-by of a community who knows that such institutions exist. Their reference seeks to create ad-hoc community on the spot and on the fly. Literary texts have the creative capacity to re-invent parts of the city as a common ground for a particular community of knowing insiders (for example, the suburban West Van playground of Douglas Coupland’s gaggles of teenage buddies or the secret Stanley Park settlement of Timothy Taylor’s homeless community). And they may include their audiences in such a community by means of proper nouns and other definite references which assume mutual knowledge. I adopt Clark and Marshall’s distinctions between the different grounds of mutual knowledge and the forms of definite reference that indicate them. But, depending on the context of the reference in the literary text, I tend to take the forms of definite reference as indications of something less than certainty of mutual knowledge—as guesses at, or hopes of, a shared familiarity and a somewhat reciprocal social awareness.  58  Ostension and relevance Style is determined both by what narrators do say and what they do not. I focus my analysis primarily on the narrative language that does appear on the page, but Sperber and Wilson offer me an analytical concept—“ostension”—which applies equally to what is left unsaid. In their theory, ostensive behaviour is overtly noticeable behaviour (48-9). Overt noticeability flags for the intended audience the speaker’s deliberate intention that the audience will notice his behaviour. This ostension, Sperber and Wilson argue, assures the audience that the speaker is trying to communicate something, and it offers the speaker’s implicit guarantee that what he is trying to communicate will be relevant to that audience (50). While fictional narrators do not have intentions, marked stylistic features, like tone, diction, or poetic devices, may seem to imply an intentional address. Sperber and Wilson discuss the guarantee of relevance implicit in the ostensive style of “all the figures of style identified by classical rhetoric” (222). And not just positive figures, but ellipsis and other omissions may appear ostensive as well. Unspoken assumptions Pragmatics theory offers several powerful analytical tools for indicating assumptions that are implied though not directly said; these tools are important for my project, because common ground is often located precisely in what is left implicit, not needing to be explained. Janet Giltrow’s analysis of Anita Brookner’s novel Hotel du Lac identifies three sets of linguistic features which ostensively signal certain unspoken assumptions. These are:  59  a) presupposing expressions, which assume rather than assert; b) agentless expressions, which suppress mentions of actors; and c) modality and projection, which assign statements as issuing from contingent conditions. (“Ironies” 215)41 Giltrow explains that all three types of expression may be read as signaling that the narrator assumes certain tacit knowledge to be common ground between narrator and addressee (220, 227). She adds that the novel’s use of these expressions demonstrates how their ostensive signaling of common ground may be used to other social effects than the happy securing of mutual knowledge. Depending on how they exploit differentials of knowledge between narrator and addressee, they may be used equally effectively to assert relative power. Speakers who sustain this way of talking can dominate others with calculated assumptions, presuming common ground to be taken for granted. At the same time as talk of this kind shields propositions from contradiction [by presupposing rather than asserting them to be true], it can intimidate listeners into compliance or pretense or silence them in fear of betraying their lack of privileged experience. (220) Similarly, the epistemic modal expression “Of course” is, in certain contexts, a “compelling signal” that “registers the speaker’s perception of potential resistance and dominates or disarms that resistance, imposing constraints on the listener to profit the speaker” (Giltrow “Ironies” 227). I incorporate Giltrow’s explanations of tacitness, domination and disarmament into my analytic vocabulary, along with the pragmatics concepts of politeness (Brown and Levinson) and presupposition (Levinson) she is working from. They especially help  60  identify the potential social effects felt by reading audiences that notice their exclusion from the circle of narrative address or feel themselves almost welcomed into it. Since, in my work, narrator and implied audience are both understood to be projections of the same stylistic turns of phrase, an I and a you “absolutely presupposed one by the other,” as Barthes put it, I do not find examples of narrators who aggressively or otherwise insincerely address themselves to audiences for whom their style is not generously and politely calibrated. However, the difference between what the implied audience apparently knows and what certain readers could possibly know makes room for the social effects Giltrow identifies, and I return to these later in this chapter. Orientations of address: inter-personality versus a-sociality I take the word “orientation” from two sources. One of these is Michael Toolan’s discussion of basic human sociality, which he calls “orientedness to other.” Toolan argues that this social orientation inclines people to trust that “others are as concerned as we are to resist and overcome the separateness from others that physical and mental separateness—individuality—entails” (112). Without this orientation, people could not have developed language. Indeed, Toolan points out that, as isolated individuals, we cannot achieve truly mutual certainty of anything: not the meaning of words, nor even the intention of the person facing us in conversation to communicate something to us. Using language, and cooperating in any other way, always involves a leap of faith—that is, a spirit of ‘orientedness to other’: a faith that, because of and in spite of the impossibility of certain knowledge of another’s thoughts and feelings, each  61  community member is foundationally concerned to surmount that barrier and to assert and act out a sharedness that can never be proved. (112) Adopting the vocabulary of social “orientedness” from Toolan, I adopt with it his position that mutual knowledge is impossible, but people nevertheless guess at and hope for a shared familiarity and a somewhat reciprocal social awareness. I want to make clear, though, that while with Toolan I think of this orientation as “faith,” I acknowledge that this orientedness to other is as much a feature of “ruthlessly authoritarian social system[s]” as cooperative and nurturing ones (Toolan 112)—an inclination to sociality is not a virtue but merely a pattern of attention.42 While the central arguments of this dissertation are based on the assumption that narrative language can be (and likely often is) read as address—read, that is, as interpersonal orientation—some narrative language reads instead as relatively a-social. Indeed, some narrative language declines to project a markedly social address at the very site where I am most interested in reading and analyzing social orientation: at the site of reference to objects in the storyworld, including elements of the setting. My analytical tools prepare me to interpret references pitched high or low on Prince’s familiarity scale as indices of how familiar the narrator judges the audience to be with the referents, but some narrative language seems to pitch its references high or low according to how familiar these objects are to the story’s protagonist, not to the audience. Wallace Chafe calls this pitch a “protagonist-oriented identifiability, as contrasted with the listener-oriented identifiability that is operative in conversational language” (284, his italics). Chafe’s terminology here is the second source of my word, “orientation.” Discussing, for example, the narrative language in Ernest Hemingway’s  62  story “Big Two-Hearted River,” Chafe points out references to objects in the setting of the storyworld that are phrased as if they are “identifiable,” although they could not in fact be identifiable to any addressee. Chafe records that at the beginning of the story the narrator says, “The train went on up the track out of sight.” Chafe comments, There is evidently no point in asking with whom the knowledge of the train or track was judged to be shared, or who would judge the sharing. What determined [the] identifiability [of these references, and hence their definite expression] was the fact that these ideas were already part of [the protagonist] Nick’s knowledge. (284)43 Chafe’s “identifiability” is intended as one measure of how speakers’ interpersonal orientation manifests itself in the design of their speech. His definition of identifiability is drawn from an analysis of obviously social, conversational language use, like Prince’s “familiarity”—and, in developing a definition for the term, he includes the speaker’s estimate of shared knowledge.44 But when Chafe goes on to analyze narrative language, he proposes that some of its references are not inflected according to a social context of narration. He considers that the inflections of “identifiability” in this language (definite references, for example) have no social significance. They are not calibrated to the speaker’s relationship with his/her addressee, and cannot be read as indications about their relative amounts of knowledge; instead, they represent the protagonist’s developing knowledge of his environment. In the next section, I will discuss the narrative language of Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye, a novel that narrates all of its references to Toronto in language that apparently represents the protagonist’s knowledge of the city instead of accommodating an audience’s knowledge of it.  63  Thus in some instances of narrative language, the very inflections that elsewhere suggest an inter-personal orientation suggest instead that the narrator is absorbed in representing the protagonist’s consciousness. I say absorbed, here, because in such examples as Hemingway’s story the speaking personality is diluted by—absorbed into— representation of the protagonist’s consciousness. Narrators’ personalities are most sharply evident, in narrative language, when they are overtly addressing themselves to audiences who do not share all their knowledge with them: their personality emerges out of differential, inter-personal dynamics of address. Free indirect narration, like that of Hemingway’s narrator in the story Chafe analyzes, turns the narrator’s attention inward to the storyworld and thus away from the audience. Other techniques of fictional storytelling may likewise read as a-social rather than overtly inter-personal in their protagonist-oriented patterns of reference. Indeed, in his book Imagined Cities: Urban Experience and the Language of the Novel, Robert Alter argues that the narrative techniques developed by early twentieth-century novelists, for the purpose of representing new realities of human experience in big, modern cities, were intended to represent individual subjective experience. They are not, in other words, explicitly socially-inflected discursive styles. Alter focuses primarily on free indirect narration (which he calls “narrated monologue” [6], thus underlining its a-sociality); he also places implicit emphasis on stream of consciousness narration. These narrative modes, he argues, were designed to express the private, limited, and ultimately quite unshareable subjectivity of the individual (41, 108, 141; but see also 110). They were thus able to capture, among other aspects of modern urban experience, the sense of personal solitariness amidst a crowd (20), and the awareness of being extraordinarily  64  close to strangers, whose respective subjective experiences are likewise private and solitary. My methodology is designed to analyze explicit and implicit “marks” of social orientedness in narrative language; if I were to encounter a narrative that read as especially a-social, because its stylistic patterns were so protagonist-oriented as to seem oblivious to any audience, I would tend to leave it alone. But I understand novels and short stories to be types of language use that are social, in the sense of being used interpersonally as well as in the sense of being genres worked in and recognized by a particular society. By virtue of being put into circulation, printed, published works are designed to address readers. Free indirect narration may seem to be absorbed in representing a character’s consciousness, but in doing so it presents that consciousness to someone. As I will argue of Obasan later in this chapter, even the most a-social of narrative styles may yet be evidently designed to address a reading audience.45 Chafe’s example of protagonist-oriented identifiability is drawn from a story that is not narrated by the protagonist himself, but by a separate narrator. This narrator is so absorbed by his protagonist’s consciousness that he does not have a distinct personality, but is simply a narrating instance. In other fictional narratives, including Cat’s Eye, the protagonists are themselves narrators. In such narrative, protagonist-orientation reads like self-absorption.  Self-absorbed speech: the example of Cat’s Eye In Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye, the first-person narrator is protagonist Elaine Risley, a narrator whose address reads as at once social and a-social. Her narrative  65  language is particularly a-social in the protagonist-oriented design of its references to elements of the novel’s Toronto setting. Elaine inflects her speech to reflect her own degree of familiarity with the Toronto landmarks she talks about, rather than pitching it to a familiarity scale that would accommodate anyone else. Yet her narration also has qualities of orientation to another. All told, Elaine’s narration, a revelation of bruised, watchful subjectivity, is oriented to an audience, but one more proximate than another person could possibly be. Her narrative is like speech addressed to Elaine herself—hence it is a performance of split subjectivity suitable for a character alienated from herself by the self-hatred bullies have taught her. Its self-absorptive intimacy seems to suffocate any possibility of direct communion with others. Elaine shifts between representing her childhood experiences and her adult ones; she narrates each in the present tense, as if they are both happening presently. When Elaine represents her adult consciousness, her narrative speech describes her experience of exploring Toronto, the city where she grew up, after years in Vancouver. The way she speaks about Toronto demonstrates her changed relationship to it: her alienation from the city’s present glitzy, expanded incarnation and her knowing familiarity with its more subdued past form. Her feelings toward the city have not altered—she declares that she hates Toronto and always has (14)—and nor has her sense of its essential personality changed. But her degree of knowledge of its surface forms has lessened. The pattern of her references to features of the Toronto landscape shows her shifting between a recital or rehearsal for herself of her remembered knowledge of the city and an on-the-spot appraisal of its new features, spoken as if she is learning about them for the first time. Her reciting style suggests a powerful, acquired certainty about the Toronto landscape she  66  remembers. And even her on-the-spot appraisal, although it demonstrates her lack of knowledge of the new city, is confidently assertive: I’ve been walking for hours it seems, down the hill to the downtown, where the streetcars no longer run. It’s evening, one of those gray watercolour washes, like liquid dust, the city comes up with in the fall. The weather at any rate is still familiar. Now I’ve reached the place where we used to get off the streetcar, stepping into the curbside mounds of January slush, into the grating wind that cut up from the lake between the flat-roofed dowdy buildings that were for us the closest things to urbanity. But this part of the city is no longer flat, dowdy, shabby-genteel. Tubular neon in cursive script decorates the restored brick facades, and there’s a lot of brass trim, a lot of real estate, a lot of money. Up ahead there are huge oblong towers, all of glass, lit up, like enormous gravestones of cold light.  (8-9, my italics)  Here Elaine seems to speak to herself. In the first half of the passage, her references are pitched high on the familiarity scale—they consistently introduce features of the city as unused (that is, not yet mentioned but presumably well known nonetheless), marking this treatment with the series of definite articles I have italicized. The chain of restrictive relative clauses linking the wind to the lake, and these in turn to the buildings, anchors an unused reference in other unused references, compounding the sense that Elaine’s knowledge of these Toronto places is part of a personalized web of associations. Besides Elaine herself, perhaps only Cordelia, with whom she acquired this particular geography, would recognize the very place she means. (Elaine’s “we,” in the fourth  67  sentence of the passage, refers to herself and Cordelia. But she is not directly addressing Cordelia here.)46 Elaine generously layers descriptive attributes onto each object she references, in effect making it possible for someone other than herself or Cordelia to get something out of the passage. But this bystanding outsider, listening in, is not addressed; he or she would not be able to locate the place where Elaine is standing “now,” and his or her inability to do so is not accommodated. Meanwhile, while “the place where we used to get off the streetcar” is a feature of a private geography, downtown Toronto towers are not. If anyone were standing with Elaine now on the street corner, looking up ahead towards the towers, he or she would share with Elaine an ability to identify them—they would be situationally evoked, in Prince’s terms, or physically copresent, in Clark and Marshall’s—and Elaine would say something more like, “Look at those huge oblong towers up ahead…” But they are strange new objects to Elaine, and she shares this view of them with no-one. Her intimate self-addressed speech about them demonstrates her estranged relationship to them, introducing the towers and other features of the new Toronto into her speech as new items. In Chafe’s terms, this is protagonist-oriented narrative language. But in Elaine’s case, a protagonist-oriented familiarity scale combines with a style of address that seems to tell her story—although she tells it with such a self-absorbed intimacy of perspective that she often seems to talk to herself. Her narrative style reads as social, as oriented to an other, because Elaine tells of her unfolding experiences in an expository manner, equal parts intimate, informative confiding and schoolish, docile reciting.  68  Lately I’ve caught myself humming out loud, or walking along the street with my mouth slightly open, drooling a little. […] There is no one I would ever tell this to, except Cordelia. But which Cordelia? The one I have conjured up, the one with the rolltop boots and the turned up collar, or the one before, or the one after? There is never only one, of anyone.  (6)  Even when her sentences are interrogative, as in But which Cordelia?, Elaine expands on them explanatorily. In other sentences, her expository phrasing seems overtly social and communicative; it extends knowledge to an audience. Many of her sentences begin, as some of these do, with an existential There, a grammatical place-filler that shifts the substance of her sentences into the position where we ordinarily expect new information. Thus, Elaine’s narrative is structured according to a grammar of telling, a grammar tailored to reveal things that an audience does not yet know. The larger patterns of her narrative, too, are set for story-telling: she discloses some details and explains certain facts but deliberately withholds certain others. Apparently, she withholds things for the sake of building suspense, and for the thematic purpose of demonstrating at the expense of her audience what it is like to be the one left out of insider knowledge.47 Considered by itself, Elaine’s narrative language, with its mixture of protagonistoriented reference and storytelling exposition, reads like self-absorbed, self-addressed speech. References to Toronto are demonstrations of Elaine’s idiosyncratic perspective on the city. However, the novel’s narration does seem conscious of another audience, a set of reading others, for whose information Elaine’s self-address is performed. As a whole, the novel’s narrative address insinuates that this other audience, for whom its assumptions of familiarity are not accommodatingly keyed, is intended to recognize itself  69  as identifying more with Elaine, seeing things more from her perspective, than this audience might have thought possible. To my mind, the references to Toronto in the novel also present the caustic tenor of her opinions about the city to a reading audience expected to have its own opinions about the place. While these demonstrations are, in their protagonist-orientation, apparently careless of outside perspectives, they seem ultimately to assume that certain readers will recognize their own view of the city in Elaine’s. These readers’ resentment of, or delight in, recognizing their own accord with Elaine’s view of Toronto is part of the reception this novel aims to address.  Dissolving the text / context boundary Up to this point I have been representing address in novels and short stories as a matter of fictional narrators addressing fictional audiences in a fictional social context of narration. But now readers have entered the arena. In this case they enter precisely because of references to real places: it is because Elaine is speaking about Toronto that I imagine the novel looking out the corner of its eye at readers who already have a relationship to the city. In studies of the pragmatics of literature, references to actual locations have long been central to debates about who is addressed by fictional discourse. At least since philosopher John R. Searle declared that “along with the pretended references to Sherlock Holmes and Watson, there are in Sherlock Holmes real references to London and Baker Street and Paddington Station” (Expression 72, my italics), pragmatics theorists have been divided on whether proper nouns like “Baker Street” in fiction do indeed refer to the actual locations. Their respective answers to this question differ according to whether  70  they think that authors address fictional discourse to their readers and therefore refer directly to real places (Martinich and Stroll 9-10; Searle) or whether they think that fictional narrators address their discourse to equally fictional addressees, articulating discourse that cannot refer to real places because it is spoken entirely in a fictional context of address (J Adams; Pagnini; Martinez-Bonati). Taking the latter view in their book-length studies of the pragmatics of fiction and literature, for example, both Jon-K Adams and Marcello Pagnini posit a boundary that envelops a fictional communicative context—a boundary segregating what I call the circle of address from any other audience. Adams argues that the Sherlock Holmes narrator refers to fictional places, not real ones. “Sherlock Holmes could not have walked in the same Baker Street that we can walk in today,” he claims (20). I take philosophers A. P. Martinich and Avrum Stroll’s opposing view that references in fiction may indeed refer to the real world, if readers perceive them to do so. As Martinich and Stroll insist, theory ought to be consistent with the fact that most readers “think that Sherlock Holmes lived on Baker Street in London, and that this street and city are the same ones they can visit” (11). In agreeing with this statement, I am arguing against the idea that there is an impermeable boundary separating fictional contexts of narration from the real world. I am denying what, in The Pragmatics of Literature, Marcello Pagnini calls “the autonomy of literature” (106). “Even when the work proposes to ‘mirror’ or ‘imitate’ a real object—let us say ‘describe’ it,” Pagnini argues, that description is part of the “complex of relationed signs” that is the discursive system of the work (106).  71  I do not disagree with Pagnini that the reference to a landmark in a fictional work is also read as part of the system of the work, as an element in a fictional geography; nor would I deny that references to landmarks in “ordinary” conversations are likewise part of a discursive “complex of relationed signs.” But I think that at the moment when readers identify the fictional reference as indicating a landmark they recognize from the real world, they integrate what Pagnini calls “the referential plane of literature” with the plane of “ordinary experience” (106), if only momentarily. Readers may re-experience the landmarks of their ordinary worlds by encountering them as part of a fictional geography. But I assume that they perceive no more distinction between the landmarks being spoken about by a fictional narrator and the landmarks of their real world than they would if they overheard the same landmarks being spoken about by strangers sitting beside them on a public bus. Narratologist David Herman argues that in certain instances the pronoun you in fictional discourse “exceeds the frame (or ontological threshold) of a fiction to reach its [reading] audience” (341), thus breaking the boundary between a fictional context of address and extending narrative address to the real readers. But this boundary is not strict to begin with, at least when novels are recognizably set in the real world. In my Introduction I wrote about the variety of people, near and far, who may have a relationship with any given public place, whether they know it from long personal acquaintance or from a distance via mediated representations. I also wrote about novels, short stories, and plays as the sort of public texts that selectively address a particular audience even as they circulate widely, likely reaching audiences who are quite different from the one addressed. In such circumstances, the narrator’s address to a particular  72  audience in a novel like Cat’s Eye may be read as articulated in the potential presence of other audiences than its primary audience because the novel puts this address into public circulation. Among these other audiences are people who hold the whole range of possible relationships to the places described in the novel. I claimed earlier that Cat’s Eye seems to be conscious of another audience than its primary audience: its descriptions of Toronto are so ostensively, caustically irreverent that I cannot help but read it as casting a tart, saucy sideways glance at the community of those who might be used to thinking about Toronto differently. I might now say the same thing differently: as a reader who recognizes Toronto, I apprehend the potential presence of an audience other than Elaine’s primary, implied audience: a possible reading audience who might find her comments about Toronto personally relevant. The novel’s very move of setting the narrative in Toronto prompts me to imagine this audience’s presence listening in on the circle of Elaine’s narrative address, because Toronto is a city I recognize as a public site that many others know and relate to. In some novels, I apprehend the potential presence of another audience who might find the narrative personally relevant when the social pattern of the narrative address changes (cf. Banting forthcoming). Address is subtle, complicated, and shifting in novels and short stories; it feints and hints, taking knowledge for granted one moment and then turning aside to explain it the next. Shifts often seem to imply that the narrator is pitching his address to other audiences beyond his primary audience, and I attempt to analyze the complicated audience designs suggested by these shifts using the same analytical tools I use for primary address: mutuality and/or assumed familiarity; formality; intimacy; distance; power; relationality. However little the written address  73  acknowledges it, at least one audience always exists besides the implied audience—that is, the audience of actual readers—and address in literary writing is complicated and playful, perhaps, precisely because it is destined for reception by someone it can never quite address. Audience design Clark and Thomas B. Carlson’s pragmatics-oriented theory of “audience design” offers vocabulary that neatly describes the complicated relations between a narrator and his several audiences. Clark and Carlson argue that, in complicated social situations, speakers design their utterances to simultaneously “say” different things to different people. By so doing, speakers also ultimately design audiences by means of their language: they divide the set of people present in the arena of language use into audiences of addressees, side-participants, bystanders, and eavesdroppers (218; Clark and Schaefer 250). As Clark and Carlson theorize audience design, each audience is in part distinguished from the others by the relative degree to which audience and speaker mutually recognize how the speaker intends to position that audience (222). Addressees are those to whom the speaker is ostensively directing her utterance, and the speaker intends that they will mutually recognize this position with her. In the circle of narrative address at work in novels and short stories, the addressees are the primary audience implied by narrative style. Side-participants are likewise intended to mutually recognize, with the speaker, that they are to participate directly and immediately in the speaker’s address, but they are also to recognize that they are not the designated addressees. The mutuality—the intensely shared reciprocal awareness of self and other—with which these immediate audiences are intended to recognize their positions with respect to the speaker  74  and his/her address makes audience design an extraordinarily powerful social lever. By overtly differentiating between addressees and side-participants, speakers might make their addressees feel positively or negatively singled-out: politely privileged, for example, as in the case where the speaker defers to their special knowledge, or rudely condescended to, as in the case where the speaker turns aside to offer them knowledge she wrongly supposes they lack. Likewise, by having side-participants recognize that they are not the designated addressees, speakers may make them feel either colluded with or brushed aside. In my research for this project I have not encountered narrative language that manages to bifurcate its primary audience into positions of addressee and side-participant, although certain narratives do shift between different primary audiences. I explain Clark and Carlson’s theory of audience design at length, here, because it provides such scope for analyzing the social effects of exclusion and inclusion that do arise when we imagine reading audiences attending to the narrative from just outside the circle of address. Clark and Schaefer argue that common ground is a resource for audience design (257): while speakers intend both addressees and side-participants to fully understand their utterances, speakers may differentiate between the two audiences by assuming themselves to share different grounds in common with the two groups. For example, depending on how speakers manage the subtle social politics of their address, they might make side-participants feel either colluded with or brushed aside by explaining something to an addressee which they feel the side-participants already know—the subtext of the explanation being, for the side-participants, either a winking Poor Addressee hasn’t a  75  clue what’s going on or a dismissive It’s not important to me that this is all old news to you.48 The social dynamics of address work differently between speaker and bystanders or eavesdroppers than between speaker and addressees or side-participants (Clark and Carlson 221). Both bystanders and eavesdroppers fit under the umbrella category of “overhearers”; the difference is that the speaker is aware of bystanders but not of eavesdroppers. These latter two audiences are outside of the circle of mutual awareness and knowledge: even if speakers intend bystanders to understand what they are saying, they do not offer bystanders the certainty of a mutual acknowledgement that they are being included in the address. (Thus bystanders cannot insist, for example, that a speaker intended to insult or flatter them, if he manages to do so; the most they can claim is that he did so indirectly and by accident.) Clark and Schaefer point out that speakers may hold attitudes of disclosure, indifference, or concealment toward overhearers (256). These attitudes call for complicated audience designs accommodating addressees’ and side-participants’ degrees of knowledge while managing to inform, or conceal information from, bystanders and/or possible eavesdroppers. The social dynamics between speaker and overhearers are more indirect and diffuse than those between speakers and addressees, because the former dynamics lack the eye-to-eye reciprocal awareness of mutual recognition. But they are potentially powerful nonetheless. Sideparticipants who are pushed so far to the “side” of a speaker’s address as to verge on being treated as ignored bystanders may feel vaguely excluded from a (possibly) warm circle of copresence and mutual awareness; bystanders who are extensively disclosed to might begin to feel eerily as if they have been interpolated as addressees. And  76  eavesdroppers who hear themselves blithely talked about are not directly addressed, but they feel the social force of their relationship to the speaker nonetheless! Thinking of fictional narrative in novels and short stories as designing its audiences, I come again to Adams’s and Pagnini’s idea of a boundary around fictional storyworlds. Mutual recognition, as Clark and Carlson theorize it, is impossible for narrators and actual readers. Thus readers permanently occupy the position of “overhearers” with respect to fictional narrators’ audiences, and the social effects the narrative may have on its readers are not directly personal. Novels and short stories may cast different sets of readers as bystanders or eavesdroppers, and as disclosed to, treated indifferently, or concealed from, but they cannot cast them as their primary audience. Indeed, fictional addressees crop up because of the inevitable difference, however slight it might be, between the audience projected by the narrator’s address and the actual person reading that address. A reader imagines the fictional audience just the way a person will look over her shoulder, expecting to find someone else there, when a stranger who has mistaken her for someone else addresses her out of the blue. Nevertheless, the boundary proposed by Adams and Pagnini blurs as readers identify themselves and/or other communities in their social world as among the bystanding or eavesdropping overhearers potentially present in the receptive arena they imagine surrounding the circle of address. Perhaps the social force of mutuality is, anyway, most sharply felt at the edge of its circle.49 Like the side-participant who is edged out or the bystander who is pulled in, readers may be overtaken by a sharp sense of social relationship—exclusion or inclusion, or something in between. They may feel that their shared knowledge is pointedly not  77  being recognized (when it ought to be), that they are positioned as eavesdroppers when the writer ought to have known that they would be listening in, or even that they are somehow, impossibly, being directly addressed by the narrator. The pragmatics of reading literature is the realm of nearly and/or remotely mutual relationships, so to speak—the spine-prickling realm of uncertain, guessed-at, glancing, sidelong connection. For even if actual readers may not technically be identical to fictional narrators’ audiences and side-participants, narrators may make very proximate bystanders or very self-conscious eavesdroppers of them. And literary texts’ references to recognizable landmarks are sites where readers may feel copresence and common ground to be almost possible in their relationships to other personalities in and around the text, including narrator, audience, and the other potential audiences imaginable at the periphery of narrative address. Since novels and short stories usually name their writers, as well as seeming to project a narrating persona, we might say that literary texts can prompt readers to imaginatively close the gap between the context in which the writer wrote the text and the distant, separate contexts of their reading. Indeed, when readers decide that a text is making reference to elements in their own, lived worlds—such as landmarks in a place they know—they establish a point of identity between three contexts: their own, the fictional storytelling context inscribed in the text, and the writer’s context. Deciding to recognize the words “Lion’s Gate Bridge” in a literary text as referring to the very bridge they know in Vancouver, for instance, readers construe both fictional narrator and actual writer as referring to that bridge. At this point of linkage between the three contexts, these readers apprehend the storytelling address inscribed in the text as articulated in their  78  own respective lived worlds. For them the social context of literary storytelling overflows the boundaries of the fictional storyworld. It comes to include not only the narrator, the fictional audience, and the reader herself, but also the writer, who composed the narrator’s narrative reference to the landmark. The reader now knows that the landmark is part of the writer’s lived world.50 Thus, because of the newly imagined connection between the reader’s social, geographical context and the writer’s, writer and reader are put indirectly into social relationship with each other by means of the text-as-utterance. The text’s address may come to seem newly, sharply, personally relevant to the reader, as if the writer had designed its effects, whatever these might be (education, entertainment, social commentary, the establishing or foreclosing of common ground…), to hinge on their personal relevance to the reader. For some Torontonians or people who know Toronto well, for example, Elaine’s irreverence in Cat’s Eye may read as if Atwood had composed it especially to gall them or to make them laugh. The text’s address becomes a “social action” not in the sense of the performance of a classic speech act—like informing, asking, commenting, etc.—but in the sense of an inter-personal social “move” made by the writer, between herself and the reader. This move may have multiple dimensions of precisely the kind I attempt to trace at the level of details of the text’s language, such as, for example, an assertion of relative power; an inclusive enfolding into a group of “insiders” or an exclusion from it; an assumption of intimacy or estrangement; of identity or difference; and/or an acknowledgement, denial, or delimiting of common ground.51  79  In Chapter Two, where I review the variety of different primary audiences addressed by novels and short stories ostensively set in Vancouver, I will not take the step of commenting on the possibility of readers imagining writers making social moves with their texts, partly because I can only ever speculate about what readers might imagine. In the final section of this chapter, however, I offer a reading of the powerful social moves that might be attributed to the writer of a particular novel. The moves I describe depend, in this case, on the individual reader recognizing the Canadian institutions and the Vancouver landmarks referred to in the text as part of his own social world. Exactly where we might locate the writer of a novel or short story in the increasingly complicated social scene of a circle of narrative address depends on the rhetorical maneuvers of the particular text: perhaps in some cases the narrator glances up suddenly, in the person of the writer as it were, to look the bystanding readers in the eye. In the case of a novel like Joy Kogawa’s Obasan, I imagine the figure of the writer suddenly appearing behind the scene of the circle as a conductor animating the storytelling, rather like the “implied author” described by Wayne Booth “as stage manager [or] as puppeteer.” She is not like Booth’s third image for this figure, “an indifferent God” (151), because her appearance on the scene is as one directly engaged in the sociality of her audience design.  Recognizable landmarks and audience design: the example of Obasan Joy Kogawa’s Obasan challenges my interpretive approach. The narrative is absorbed in the protagonist’s consciousness, but its style occasionally sends a flickering glance outwards; meanwhile, Kogawa presents a narrator’s pose of private self-reflection  80  while ultimately composing a public appeal to a particular readership. I argue that style and narrative address vitally affect how a novel or short story presents itself to its reading audiences, but this novel illustrates how complicated a narrative’s interface with its readers may be. Nevertheless, analyzing the audience-designing effects of place references does allow me to sort out some of the novel’s complex rhetoric. Obasan’s primary social move is to present itself publicly to non-Japanese Canadians, asking them to admit the injustice of internment and to recognize that Japanese-Canadians “come from” Canada just as they do (Kogawa 226); a secondary social move is to make selfconscious overhearers of non-Japanese Vancouverites. But this rhetorical purpose hinges on a primary address to quite a different audience. The primary narrative address is itself difficult to characterize. Like that in Cat’s Eye, Obasan’s narrative style is at once other-oriented and private: at once addressed to someone “other” than the self, an outsider, and seemingly addressed to the self, or addressed within a circle of familial and perhaps racial identifications. Considering the novel’s status as a public text that offers itself to readers, I think that the tension between these two simultaneous qualities finally may be resolved by deciding that the novel reads as an authorial staging, for certain reading “others,” of a woman’s private self-address. But the tension in the narrative language’s fictional address subtly complicates even this account of audience design. What follows is my description of the narrative address and its complicated interaction with the whole novel’s self-presentation to readers. (In referring here to the “whole text,” I am thinking of Bakhtin’s concept of “addressivity,” in which the literary text enters the social world as one entire utterance, oriented to a particular audience as managed by its genre as well as its style [“Problem” 62; see  81  footnote 13].) I comment in particular on how certain social effects of the novel’s audience design come into effect if readers recognize the novel’s references to Canadian institutions and specific Vancouver landmarks as part of their social world. The complicated character of narrative address in Obasan matches the novel’s thematic tension between silent acceptance and public outcry. Most of the fictional narrator, Naomi’s, family members have chosen to be silent about the pain of internment—Naomi’s uncle declares it “not very Japanese-like” to speak out (Kogawa 40). However, her aunt Emily is determined to speak publicly about their history of suffering: “All her life,” Naomi tells her audience, “Aunt Emily toiled to tell of the lives of the Nisei in Canada in her effort to make familiar, to make knowable, the treacherous yellow peril that lived in the minds of the racially prejudiced” (40). Naomi is torn between the two impulses (to be silent, to tell); she recalls with gratitude her mother’s “Japanese” unwillingness to probe and expose her childhood experiences of pain and confusion (59), but she is gradually convinced by Emily’s insistence on drawing pain out into expression. When she can bear to recall it, fictional narrator Naomi tells the story of her family’s internment, speaking as if to an audience who does not already know the story. She patterns given and new information in a way that projects an address to someone unfamiliar with her life experiences. Her “telling” style pins new attributes onto given items in familiar, informative phrase structures, leading her audience gently into knowledge, as in “The house was large and beautiful,” for example, in the following passage:  82  All right, Aunt Emily, all right! The house then—the house, if I must remember it today, was large and beautiful. It’s still there on West 64th Avenue in Vancouver. […] I looked it up once […] It used to have a hedge and rose bushes and flowers and cactus plants lining the sidewalk […] If I search the caverns of my mind, I come to a collage of images—sombre paintings, a fireplace and a mantel clock with a heavy key like a small metal bird that fits into my palm. The living room is the darkest room, the walls of dark wood lit with dim lights. On the floor is a deep blue Indian rug with a complex border of multicoloured designs and a ribbon of rectangles and roads that can be traversed like a maze by Stephen’s toy train.  (50, my italics)  In this passage, where she begins to think back to her childhood and recall the losses her family suffered, Naomi introduces intimately-known features of her childhood home (indicated in italics) as if they are new to her audience. But her narration is nevertheless privately spoken. When it addresses someone explicitly, it apostrophizes an absent family member—as it does Emily here (cf. also 194), or her mother (240-1). Naomi’s desire for peace and privacy makes her resist the compulsion to tell, and her narrative process is tortured by the pain of recollection; for these reasons, perhaps, Naomi’s narrative language suggests an audience who is, as in Cat’s Eye, so close to the narrator that she could hardly be an “other,” and is instead like a version of the narrator’s self. As Laurie Ricou points out, “we might read” the fictional narrator’s narrative “as a woman’s journal” (Arbutus 72); indeed, her first chapter begins with a diary-like record of the time and date of writing. Also, Naomi embeds into her narrative a thirty-page excerpt from her Aunt Emily’s journal—an excerpt which is  83  formally a series of informative letters to her sister (Naomi’s mother), letters that will never be delivered. These undelivered letters, whose declared address to Naomi’s mother gradually dissolves into a series of diary entries (cf. 101-3), model a style of confessional, informative address that ultimately tells (no-one but) the narrator herself what she already knows. Naomi’s narration reads like another such layer of informative, explanatory, private speech. So where her account of her childhood household’s furnishings takes the narrative form of explanatory telling, it poses as a recital for a private audience: a tiny circle of address arranged only for one. Private telling is thematically asserted by the intensely personal focus of Naomi’s narration and stylistically underlined by her use of the present tense to narrate both her childhood experiences and her adult ones. She slips quietly between times, for example, at the paragraph break in the passage quoted earlier. Like Elaine in Cat’s Eye, Naomi narrates a personal process of remembering and re-learning. She gradually revisits her own buried past and re-learns her family’s history, reconsidering it in the light of what Emily teaches her about their involvement in a collective Japanese-Canadian history of internment, acceptance, and finally resistance. She narrates both her childhood experiences and her adult ones in the present tense, as if she is (re-)experiencing the two times in tandem. The present-tense narration suggests a narrator absorbed in her own ongoing experience, not in a public address. And the explicit purpose of this narration, the painful, deliberate remembering of things she otherwise cannot bear to recall, frames this fictional address as a private one—especially when its purpose is declared as an apostrophe to an absent family member.  84  Private address is particularly evident, but also particularly complicated, in Naomi’s references to public Vancouver landmarks. Naomi’s remembering, re-learning mode requires that she retrace her life experience, and when she comes to Vancouver landmarks she narrates them in such a way that things that were familiar to her at the remembered time are phrased as givens, and things that were then unfamiliar to her are phrased as new. (This is different than her stylistic treatment of the furnishings of her childhood home, such as somber paintings and a mantle clock; those she referred to with indefinite references, phrasing them as new information, although she herself knew them intimately as a child.) Naomi’s general pattern of referring to the Vancouver landmarks she remembers implies that the landmarks are also perfectly well known to her audience—and, in the context of the dominant style of the narration, this pattern suggests a private address. I am tempted to claim, instead, that it suggests an address to other people who share exactly Naomi’s knowledge of Vancouver geography: this interpretation would be most consistent with my pragmatics assumptions of otherorientation. But while it may sometimes feel eerily like an address to people with exactly overlapping knowledge for readers who do happen to share that Vancouver geography with her, I cannot think that these samples of narrative language clearly project such an address, given that they are embedded in the context of Naomi’s intimate, self-absorbed narration. In general, Naomi’s narrative style does not indicate common ground shared with unfamiliar others; it rather seems to recall to herself her own knowledge of familial ground. Naomi has not been back to Vancouver since being relocated, as a child, to the British Columbia interior and then again to Alberta, although she has since learned from  85  Emily about Vancouver sites in the political geography of Japanese-Canadian internment. Her narrative language reflects her personal knowledge of the city, which is combined from her circumscribed, childhood experience of urban space—a domestic interior, a backyard and neighbouring house, and a disconnected set of public locations (familiar oases she remembers having enjoyed with family members)—and her learned adult knowledge. The narration in which Naomi re-experiences her childhood reads like a recital (to herself) of the things she knew at the time; among these givens familiar to her childhood self are several Vancouver neighbourhoods, streets, and landmarks: 1)  Stephen is in grade three at David Lloyd George School.  2)  When Grandpa Nakane walks, […] his right arm dangles loose […] close to his knees like some of the monkeys at Stanley Park.  3)  (70)  (71)  Grandpa Nakane at Sick Bay? Where, I wonder, is that? And why is it a cause of distress? Is Sick Bay near English Bay or Horseshoe Bay? When we go to Stanley Park we sometimes drive by English Bay. Past English Bay are other beaches, Second and Third Beach where I once went to buy potato chips and got lost. Grandpa Nakane came ambling out of the crowd that day and took my hand in his strong one without saying a word and I fed him my potato chips one by one as if he were one of the animals at the zoo. If Grandpa Nakane is at the beach now, could he be lost the way I was? Should we not go to find him?  4)  (74)  Obasan told me Grandma and Grandpa went to visit friends and their old boat shop on Saltspring Island as they do every year. They have still not come back to their house in New Westminster.  86  (74)  In these excerpts, Naomi does not seem to be informing an outsider audience. She names places (the school, Stanley Park, English Bay, etc.) using their proper names without further introduction, as if indicating that her audience—that is, herself—shares these places with her as common ground. Her phrasing is explanatory and informative (“Past English Bay are other beaches, Second and Third Beach”). But especially in excerpt (3) it reads like a recital—a child’s repetition, to herself, of the things she knows—and a retracing of known, familiar geography in her silent mental search for a place to put the unknown place, “Sick Bay.” Naomi narrates this passage as a re-articulation of what she was thinking silently as she eavesdropped on her adult family members talking; it did not then and does not now get said aloud. My interpretation of these passages as recollected experiences narrated by Naomi to herself is also informed by how they compare to passages from another segment of the book: the embedded passage from Emily’s journal of letters to Naomi’s mother. The following excerpts are from Naomi’s sample of Emily’s journal. They are not narrative—that is, they are not addressed by the novel’s narrator—so they help establish Naomi as absorbed, as introverted, by her re-learning process rather than as extroverted into speech by it. According to Naomi, she reads the journal language rather than speaking it. The embedded journal passage also serves as another example of language which inflects its references to Vancouver to indicate the narrator’s assumption that they are common ground for narrator and audience and does so as part of a private address. I have added all of the following emphases. They indicate marks of assumed sharedness: mentions of streets and buildings by proper name and definite reference.  87  5)  A torch was thrown into a rooming-house and some plate-glass windows were broken in the west end—things like that.  6)  Business on Powell Street is up slightly since most of us who usually go to the big department stores like Woodwards don’t any more.  7)  (82)  The government has requisitioned the Livestock Building at Hastings Park, and the Women’s Building, to house 2,000 ‘Japs pending removal.’  8)  (80)  (88)  […] the confinees in the Hastings Park Pool […] we’ll all be chucked into Hastings Park […] I’m afraid that those kept in the Hastings Park will be held as hostages […] This morning Dad got out of bed and went to the Pool bunkhouse for men (the former Women’s Building).  (90-96)  9)  The bulletins posted on Powell Street aren’t available to most people. (93)  10)  The other day there were a lot of people lined up on Heather Street to register at the RCMP headquarters and so frightened by what was going on […](100)  11)  [“the kids,” Naomi and her brother, are] spending the night in the church hall at Kitsilano. I’m going over there too […]  (110)  When Naomi opens Emily’s journal, she is confronted by the sense of eavesdropping on a private conversation: “I feel like a burglar as I read,” she says, “breaking into a private house” (79). But she reminds herself that Emily has now sent the journal to her, redirecting its original address. In effect, as Emily educates her niece, she extends her diary to a wider readership. By contrast to Emily’s other efforts at making public the wrongs suffered by Japanese-Canadians, however, this extension of the diary’s address still keeps Emily’s personal history within the family, so to speak. In this respect it reinforces the general privacy of language use in this novel.  88  However, Emily’s journal is also one of the places in Obasan where the fiction of a private, personal address wears thin. The text’s language seems to respond here to the writer’s designs for the presentation of her whole novel to readers, as well as to the designs of Emily’s intimate address. While the fiction of an epistolary diary is maintained by Emily’s familiarly-styled reference to places she knows to be common ground shared with her sister, it is weakened by these references’ occasional slips into over-explanation. “The big department stores like Woodwards,” for example, is unnecessarily specific for a sister who knows the city well and even more so for the self who is the diary’s primary audience. It suggests that the narrative has designs on another audience; an audience, say, of overhearing readers who know Woodwards, to whom Kogawa wants to disclose the information that “most of us” patronize that particular department store. Emily’s reference to Woodwards in excerpt (6) might be read as indicating the writer’s intention to introduce the news that Vancouver’s Japanese frequented stores beyond of Powell Street’s “Japantown.” “The church hall at Kitsilano” has a similar effect. If, by re-directing her diary’s address to Naomi, Emily intends to teach her niece how, as Japanese-Canadians, their acquaintances were forced into a terribly constricted geography, then by staging this address Kogawa seems to intend to teach readers who recognize Woodwards’s and Kitsilano’s places in the social geography of Vancouver just how settled and widely distributed Japanese families were in the city. Like Emily’s diary, Naomi’s narration swerves occasionally into over-explanation of Vancouver place references. Excerpts (1) to (4) tempted me, earlier, to interpret them as other-oriented precisely because their familiarity-assuming proper nouns were so formally and completely set forward. “Stephen is in grade three at David Lloyd George  89  School” is stylistically appropriate to a child’s recital to herself of what things she knows, but, for those bystanding audiences who recognize that school, its deliberateness also ostensively invites their recognition. Naomi narrates perhaps half of the novel from her adult perspective, the other half as if she is re-experiencing her young life. When speaking as an adult she occasionally styles her references as if deliberately for an audience outside her intimate circle. In this case, the outsider is someone who does not recognize Vancouver landmarks. Of the following excerpts, only (13) suggests an assumption that the places referred to—parts of Vancouver Naomi knew as a child—are known to her audience: 12)  I can imagine that my grandmother said much the same thing [“Too old”] those dark days in 1942, as she rocked in her stall at the Vancouver Hastings Park prison.  13)  (17)  There were all the picnics at Kitsilano, and the concerts at Stanley Park. And the Christmas concert in the church at Third Avenue when tiny Stephen sang a solo.  14)  (20)  The house in which we live is in Marpole, a comfortable residential district of Vancouver. It is more splendid than any house I have lived in since.  15)  (49)52  Sick Bay, I learned eventually, was not a beach at all. And the place they called the Pool was not a pool of water, but a prison at the exhibition grounds called Hastings Park in Vancouver. Men, women, and children outside Vancouver, from the ‘protected area’—a hundred-mile strip along the coast— were herded into the grounds and kept there like animals until they were  90  shipped off to road-work camps and concentration camps in the interior of the province.  (77)  Excerpt (12) stretches an apparent assumption of Vancouver common ground (a definite reference and a proper name) into a more explanatory phrase. Compared to the shorthand references to “Hastings Park” and “the Pool” in excerpt (8) from Emily’s journal, the lengthy, formal precision of Naomi’s reference here to “the Vancouver Hastings Park prison” belies its design for an audience who shares her knowledge of a particular geography of Vancouver. And excerpts (14) and (15) are plainly explanatory, glossing familiar references (“Marpole,” “the place they called the Pool,” “the ‘protected area’”) with indefinite references (a district, a prison, a strip of coastline) that gently introduce the audience to new knowledge. Swerves into explanation tend to reflect Naomi’s process of re-learning, and may be read still as a recital to herself of learned knowledge. But these glosses pick up the narrative rhythm of other glosses in Naomi’s narration (childhood and adult), which are usually translations into English of Japanese words: 16)  ‘Kawaiso,’ she says under her breath. The word is used whenever there is hurt and a need for tenderness. […] ‘Kawai,’ I whisper to Obasan, meaning that the baby is cute.  (113)  Glosses indicate design for two audiences: a primary one, who will not be alienated by the narrator’s immediate treatment of something (a Vancouver landmark or a Japanese word) as well known, and a secondary one, whose lesser knowledge needs to be accommodated after the fact with a follow-up explanation. These unconcealed nods to a secondary audience that does not know Hastings Park’s prison and does not speak  91  Japanese complicate Naomi’s address, puncturing the apparent privacy of its speech with moments of obvious orientation to an other. I read the explanatory glossing in passages like (15) as showing Kogawa’s awareness that there are others beyond Naomi herself for whom this revelation about “Sick Bay” is relevant and engaging (horrifying!) information. Unusually, Obasan includes details that suggest that its intended, secondary audience of bystanding readers has a particular political profile. Non-Japanese Canadian readers are deliberately disclosed to and ushered towards the circle of address by Kogawa’s audience design. (I specify “non-Japanese” because of the narrative glossing of Japanese words.) This set of details includes Naomi’s references to Canadian institutions and policies and the dialogism established between Kogawa’s novel and the government documents, official letters, news reports, and popular slogans that are woven into the text.53 Readers may perceive Obasan as responding to public statements precisely when they recognize elements of their own social contexts so pointedly being referred to in the novel. That is, if an individual Canadian reader decides to identify the storyworld in Obasan with his own lived world, he galvanizes what Bakhtin would call the novel’s addressivity. He imaginatively draws himself so close to the circle of address that he becomes a recognized part of its rhetorical situation. He constructs Kogawa as deliberately disclosing to him, no longer just as an anonymous reader free to engage with the story or not, but as a Canadian for whom the history of internment is indeed personally relevant. The novel’s references to Vancouver landmarks, in turn, offer additional relevance for readers who recognize them. Like the Canada references, when readers  92  recognize these Vancouver landmarks as part of their social world, these references bring to life a particular social dimension of the text’s audience design. But the Vancouver references do so differently. They do not design “Vancouverites” as a sub-set particularly disclosed to among Canadian audiences. Rather, the novel’s references to Vancouver landmarks make self-conscious eavesdroppers of people who identify its landmarks as part of their lived reality (perhaps especially those among them without Japanese heritage). It makes them eavesdroppers by not addressing them as an audience that shares these landmarks with Naomi and Kogawa, all the while staging the landmarks as a common ground for Naomi and her private audience. The majority of Naomi’s references to Vancouver locations make readers who know Vancouver aware that Naomi’s fictional audience is someone close to her, with whom she shares parts of the city as a common ground. This address demands nothing of them personally. Naomi will never know that they know Vancouver too. But they may nevertheless feel an eavesdropper’s sense of coming undetected upon a private conversation that is personally relevant to them. (To dramatize: Naomi and her closeknit family share memories of time spent together in Kitsilano, in Stanley Park (20). I know those places too, I share them with these characters, but of course they couldn’t know that…) Meanwhile, considering that Kogawa would know that, among her audience of Canadian readers, some readers would have a specially close knowledge of the city, I think that these readers’ knowledge of Vancouver landmarks may then make them especially self-conscious as eavesdroppers. The conversation they have secretly happened upon is relevant to them personally; it is almost as if Kogawa must in fact know that they are there, listening in, even if she gives no sign of awareness.  93  An explanatory passage like (15) exemplifies Vancouverites’ position as especially self-conscious eavesdroppers. Here is (15) again: 17)  Sick Bay, I learned eventually, was not a beach at all. And the place they called the Pool was not a pool of water, but a prison at the exhibition grounds called Hastings Park in Vancouver. Men, women, and children outside Vancouver, from the ‘protected area’—a hundred-mile strip along the coast— were herded into the grounds and kept there like animals until they were shipped off to road-work camps and concentration camps in the interior of the province.  (77)  This passage urges Canadian readers to construct a geography of internment that did exist during the war, and offers them landmarks that continue to exist as reference points for that construction. The reference-point landmarks are “Vancouver,” “the coast,” and “the province”—not points that require an intimate familiarity with the city of the kind, for example, that Emily’s journal demonstrates with its unglossed references to “Powell Street” and “Hastings Park.”54 Recognizing those landmarks as indeed parts of their lived experience (even if only as points on a map), Canadian readers recognize that the narrative address has conjoined with their reality, and Kogawa is addressing them as Canadian readers with a certain knowledge of place, for whom the story has become personally relevant, rather than anonymously as readers. But readers who know Vancouver well recognize those landmarks as more intimately part of their respective lived experience than that of Canadians in general; thus they note that Kogawa is not addressing them as a special group. Their eavesdropping position is a self-conscious one, however, because she might have addressed them—and what if she actually knows they  94  are there, listening in? The landscape she is referring to is far more personally relevant to them than to the general Canadian audience she is addressing. Perhaps these readers feel rather like Naomi does when she begins reading Emily’s journal. It is not addressed to her, but it is personally relevant nonetheless: Should I be reading this? Why not? Why else would she send it here? […] I feel like a burglar as I read, breaking into a private house only to discover it’s my childhood house filled with corners and rooms I’ve never seen.  (79)  The effect of this social move of non-acknowledgement is a gentle exclusion, of those who identify with the Vancouver she refers to, from any group of people with special proximity to the events. Meanwhile, Naomi’s fictional address to her private audience assumes certain very central and popular Vancouver locations—Stanley Park, English Bay, Kitsilano, Powell Street—as a common ground shared between them. Positioned outside of this private sharing of spaces they know, and excluded from any special shared proximity to the characters and events of the novel, readers who recognize Kogawa’s Vancouver are spared the sense of being accused of any extra guilt inherent in their proximity. But they are also denied the sense that they share with the characters this terrain of childhood innocence and adult pain.  95  Chapter Two: Vancouver Common Grounds and the Edges of Fiction In the park of the seaport the giant trees swayed, and taller than any were the tragic Seven Sisters, a constellation of seven noble red cedars that had grown there for hundreds of years, but were now dying, blasted, with bare peeled tops and stricken boughs. (They were dying rather than live longer near civilization. Yet though everyone had forgotten they were called after the Pleiades and thought they were named with civic pride after the seven daughters of a butcher, who seventy years before when the growing city was named Gaspool had all danced together in a shop window, nobody had the heart to cut them down.) (Lowry 13) In Malcolm Lowry’s short story “The Bravest Boat,” Vancouver is not common ground. Lowry’s narrator assumes a primary audience for whom Vancouver—or Enochvilleport, as he names his fictional version of the city—is unknown territory, a place off the map of specific and shared place-knowledge. He introduces his audience to the city, building it for them as a vivid place, as fresh and as-yet-unimagined to them as it is thoroughly known to him. He positions it relative to landmarks and geographies they know, gradually placing it in the Pacific Northwest (16), near the American border (13, 15), and north of Cape Flattery (19), and hypothesizing that his audience might have thought its park “quite like some American parks […] save for the Union Jack” flying there and the appearance of a posse of the RCMP (16). In the passage quoted here the narrator starts building the city by describing the park, introducing his audience to the Seven Sisters and to the legendary butcher from the city’s early history. Although he begins by phrasing his references to features of the park as if they were inferable from knowledge already shared with his audience—general knowledge about parks and seaports and giant trees— his narrative language gradually reveals that the specific identities of these trees, this park and this growing seaport city are unknown to them. He treats these features’ identities as new information.55 He continues to do so with other Vancouver landmarks throughout 96  the story, as he builds the setting outward from the trees to the city downtown and its surrounds, introducing his audience to new items—to “the stretch of water below known as Lost Lagoon” (14), to “dilapidated half-skyscrapers” and other buildings populating the city centre (16), and to “a harbour more spectacular than Rio de Janeiro and San Francisco put together” (17).56 Lowry’s narrator and his audience do share some general knowledge about the world outside of Vancouver, and their shared knowledge partly constitutes their relationship to one another. They both know of Rio de Janeiro and San Francisco as spectacular sites, for example. And the narrator assumes enough concordance in their world-views and sensibilities to allow him occasionally to use an abstracted secondperson pronoun to focalize the narrative perceptions—a “you” that hypothetically unites speaker and audience. Describing the city centre with rage and distaste, mentioning the religious buildings, he narrates the appearance of dwarfed spires belonging to frame facades with blackened rose windows, queer grimed onion-shaped domes, and even Chinese pagodas, so that first you thought you were in the Orient, then Turkey or Russia, though finally, but for the fact that some of these were churches, you would be sure you were in hell […]  (17)  The narrator presumes the intimacy and shared general knowledge of community membership in his relationship with his audience, but their common ground stops at the American border. The brave boat in the story makes a twelve-year-long and wandering journey to travel the distance between Fearnought Bay, U.S.A. and Enochvilleport, Canada—“that voyage of only some three score miles as the crow flies” (22-3)—and that same distance represents a gap in the common ground shared by Lowry’s narrator and his  97  audience. When the narrator addresses them from the far side of this borderland divide, he speaks to them from unknown territory. The limits of narrator and audience’s shared world-view, and the audience’s lack of knowledge about Vancouver, make up the social context in which the narrator tells his story. (The dramatic difference between this narrator’s geographical knowledge and his audience’s characterizes Lowry’s story as what I will be calling a city-building narrative, in contrast to a place-sharing or edge-setting narrative.) In “The Bravest Boat,” the lack of common ground is part of this narrator’s motivation to tell his audience a story that builds for them such a vivid and allegorized setting. Enochvilleport’s position beyond the far edge of his audience’s knowledge makes it for them an open field of as-yetunimagined possibilities. The narrator’s own deep knowledge of the place and his fully developed feelings about it motivate him as well.57 And his storytelling about this unknown place claims relevance for his audience, in Sperber and Wilson’s sense, when he links the new information he offers them to the knowledge they already share in common. The narrator and his audience’s already shared appreciation for the moral and aesthetic contrast between park and city allows him to sustain the scene-setting description for pages, positioning his sympathetic central characters deliberately on the side of goodness (“for nearly all people are good who walk in parks” [15]) within a charged scene. He implies to his audience that even in distant Enochvilleport—even, that is, in Canada, where the mixed influences of Britain and America make a laughable picture out of “the posse of Royal Canadian Mounted Policemen mounted royally upon the cushions of an American Chevrolet” (16)—the ugly forces of modernization and international cultural exchange threaten goodness. But here goodness is to be found,  98  albeit barely, on the very verges of a city park that in “its beauty [is] probably unique” (16). Storytelling that builds the city out of unknown space, for an audience that is not already familiar with it, is just one of the narrative modes in which novels and short stories set in Vancouver handle their references to the city. I refer to this mode as city building. Later in this chapter I will discuss city building in other texts, including writing by Ethel Wilson and Timothy Taylor, which also introduce Vancouver to an audience from elsewhere: Wilson’s to an English audience and Taylor’s to a North American one. The Vancouvers built in these other texts are not, like Lowry’s Enochvilleport, explicitly fictional places, although they are all versions in fiction of the real Vancouver that these writers knew, respectively, in the early 1940s and 1950s and at the turn of the twentieth century. Of the several ways in which narratives handle references to a real city, city building is perhaps the one most congruent with the qualities of fiction telling. Fictions are what storytellers create when they recount worlds and events removed from the real world (cf. Herman on the distinct space-time coordinates of the “storyworld” 14) or when their accounts are not responsible to reality (cf. J Adams 21).58 (Such a definition of fiction remains current even despite fiction’s longstanding freedom to reference recognizable real-world locations or historical characters.) Narrators of city-building narratives develop settings that are new to their audience. Thus the writers seem to offer their stories to the reader-from-elsewhere, instead of especially trying to reach an audience with more particular, local knowledge. Reading audiences who really do know the city are positioned as eavesdroppers. Like Obasan, these narratives tend to ignore  99  these knowing audiences (except when, as in Stanley Park, they omit to explain a reserved few landmarks, or otherwise acknowledge that there are some things about the setting that cannot be explained to an outsider, thus preserving some privilege for the knowing locals listening in). In this narrative mode, a setting’s prior obscurity (as construed by the narrator) confers authority on the storyteller, giving her room to make a story of the city without being crowded or held accountable for faithful representation. As Lowry’s construction of Enochvilleport exemplifies, as well, this narrative mode allows a writer to confer a particular value on the city, presenting it as newsworthy and relevant even for those with no prior relationship to it.59 “The Bravest Boat” incorporates Vancouver into Lowry’s exploration of moral and aesthetic opposites and showcases it as a prime example of their vivid contrast; other city-building narratives set up the city as a frontier space allowing one to consider new social alignments or a metropolitan centre providing a classy new vocabulary of taste. Before discussing city-building in other Vancouver texts, I will discuss two other major ways in which narrators handle references to the city. I refer to the first of these as place-sharing. Place-sharing narrators, who appear in Shani Mootoo’s “Out on Main Street,” Wayson Choy’s The Jade Peony, and Douglas Coupland’s Girlfriend in a Coma, among other works, refer to their Vancouver settings as if the city, or at least the particular terrain within it where their narrative takes place, is common ground shared with their audience and a basis for community membership with them. In the second mode, which I refer to as edge-setting, narrators share a certain extent of city terrain with their audience but markedly not all of it. In Bowering’s short story “Two Glasses of Remy” and William Gibson’s “The Winter Market,” for example, narrative demarcates  100  an edge between shared and unshared ground. Narration in these stories is motivated by a desire to invite the audience to venture over that edge, to meet the narrators in a part of the shared city that the audience had not yet imagined. In place-sharing and edge-setting narratives, narrator and audience already share some literal ground in common when the storytelling begins: they jointly know at least part of the story’s setting.60 By referring to that ground, the narrative language indicates their located social relationship, emphasizing that the storytelling context is defined in part by a shared experience of place in these cases. In city-building narratives, narrator and audience likely share some more general worldview or wider knowledge—such as their cosmopolitan familiarity with Rio de Janeiro and San Francisco in “The Bravest Boat”—but the narrative focus steps them off their shared map, when it takes them to Vancouver. Indeed, the principal differences between these three narrative modes arise at the point where the narrative steps off the shared map. In all three of these modes, fiction-telling mixes with reference to and reconstructions of a recognizable social world: starting from known territory, each story reveals new characters, histories, and places that overhearing readers may receive as freely invented. But city-building narratives unfurl their Vancouver settings as part of the story to be told. Edge-setting narratives are similar, although they start from closer to home, so to speak; they excavate hitherto unknown places within the larger frame of the shared city, and reveal their stories in the process. Place-sharing narratives tell a story about what happened here, on already common ground; typically, they pointedly reveal private lives, domestic spaces, and personal histories otherwise invisible in the anonymously shared public spaces of a city. These modes differ, then, in the pragmatics of their work with setting and, accordingly, in  101  how they position themselves socially with respect to reading audiences who are less and more familiar with the setting. For the remainder of this chapter, I focus on what place-sharing, edge-setting, and city-building narratives set in Vancouver can show us about how a city is experienced as social space and how novels and short stories mediate that experience for their readerships. When I mentioned earlier these narrative modes’ difference from a basic social context of fiction telling—in which narrators unfurl an unknown setting removed from the real social world known by their audiences—I did so not because novels and short stories set in Vancouver are much different from texts set elsewhere in their handling of references to recognizable place (although Vancouver’s situation at “the periphery of the centre” puts certain pressures on these texts’ setting-work).61 Rather, I mentioned it because of the question these texts’ departure from the basic “fiction” paradigm seems to pose: what real-life social relationship to the settings of these stories are the narrators claiming for their audiences? The implied audience’s relation to the setting, and how this relationship affects narration, has not been much discussed in scholarly or popular analyses of novels and short stories. By contrast, reviewers have noticed temporally-specific storytelling contexts in some fiction. Coupland’s novels, for instance, make many references to ofthe-moment icons of Western popular culture. His novels have been repeatedly read as written out of an international and specifically contemporary moment (cf. T Adams, Daley, Jefferson), despite their decidedly local setting. I contend that it is worth noting that novels and short stories’ circles of address usually are positioned somewhere with respect to the stories’ settings—even if only vaguely, as in the “Bravest Boat” narrator’s  102  address to an audience across the border. Existing theories of narrative address in fiction are not designed to notice this positioning, influenced as they are by the idea that an unlocatable reader is the primary audience of any written narrative.62  Cities and narrative Urban theorists and cultural critics have long emphasized anonymity and alienation as the defining experiences of modern social life in cities. Confronted by the size and diversity of the modern metropolis, the solitary citizen feels alone and separate in the anonymous crowd.63 In The Country and the City, Raymond Williams identifies in a Wordsworth poem the first expression of what has since become a dominant experience of the city. […] Wordsworth saw strangeness, a loss of connection, not at first in social but in perceptual ways: a failure of identity in the crowd of others which worked back to a loss of identity in the self, and then, in these ways, to a loss of society itself, its overcoming and replacement by a procession of images [...] No experience has been more central in the subsequent literature of the city. (150, my emphasis) As Richard Lehan observes in The City in Literature: An Intellectual and Cultural History, intellectuals of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries “on both sides of the Atlantic saw the city give rise to a radical individualism” (xv) and anonymity replace community (4). Accordingly, in Imagined Cities: Urban Experience and the Language of the Novel, Robert Alter argues that the great late nineteenth- and early twentiethcentury urban novelists (from Flaubert to Dickens, Woolf and Joyce) developed new narrative techniques capable of expressing the new experiences of modern urban life, and  103  Alter characterizes these as increasingly enclosed in the individual’s solitary subjective perspective. In Alter’s view, the “distinctive character of urban existence” came to be found in “anonymous individuals, their real nature disguised, encountering one another in a noisy crowd, appetites sharpened and nerves frayed in a dense swirl of provocative and dischordant stimuli” (32). The individual’s experience of the city, as that experience is embodied by the experimental prose style of a writer like Flaubert, is too private and too fragmented to be communicated to another mind, Alter argues. Hence he reads Flaubert’s prose style, especially the writer’s development of a free indirect style of narration, as illustrating “the isolation of person from person and individual from community” in the modernist metropolis (19). As I have explained in Chapter 1, I persist in reading even free indirect narration as addressed, as uttered in the social context of a narrator-audience relationship. In my view, narrative is an attempt to relate, and to relate something, to an other. Hence narrative is a medium by which the isolated urbanite can attempt to make social connection out of his or her experiences of city life. One conception of city living does frame individual city-dwellers as sharing place. In this view, the individual subject anonymously and impersonally shares a physically unspecific public realm with an indefinite population of others. In Imagined Cities, Alter sees in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway an image of this sort of imaginative, unspecific experience of sharedness. Although he maintains, based on his reading of canonical city fictions, that “the great modern city […] is not a place of community” (115), he argues that For Clarissa the pulsating presence of the world—‘this, here, now, in front of her’—has the power to break through the barriers of private consciousness that  104  constantly registers and constructs the world […] so she entertains the idea, straddling fantasy and existential revelation, of being part of everything around her, even ‘part of people she had never met.’  (110-115)  Alter reads in Mrs. Dalloway an experience not of shared place but of shared presence. Woolf’s narrative language, he says, manages to convey that for Clarissa, private empathetic consciousness may serve as medium for her, as a city-dweller, to imagine herself sharing presence with the diverse people around her. But I would offer that city-dwellers may also imagine this shared presence as located—as precisely an experience of shared space—in part by perceiving themselves surrounded by an open set of citizens who also make their lives within the boundaries of the city. Meanwhile, some urban theorists have argued that city-dwellers imagine a kind of vaguely located community membership thanks to the mediating power not of consciousness but of texts. As David Henkin explains in City Reading: Written Words and Public Spaces in Antebellum New York, when living in a city began to involve reading all sorts of different texts—street names, advertisements, public announcements, signs of rules and directions—posted on the city’s every physical surface, a new sense emerged of being an anonymous member of a collective population located in those specific streets.64 In contrast to the lone, alienated urban subject that many theorists and critics see represented in the urban writing, the various narrative voices in Vancouver fiction instantiate distinctly social experiences of the city. While they range from assuming common ground to introducing unknown territory, these short stories and novels imply social contexts for their narration. They make references to specific parts of the city in such a way as to manifest social relationships of storytelling and address that position  105  both narrator and audience with respect to the physical terrain of the city. Thus they offer instances of located, urban social relationships which range from intimate and proximal to alienated and distant, but which are certainly not solitary.  Place-sharing narratives The conception of the individual as an anonymous member of the urban community offers one interesting context for my reading of place-sharing narratives in Vancouver stories. Usually place-sharing narratives assume common ground without assuming at the same time a personal relationship to the audience: mutually shared place (and, often, a certain mutually shared worldview as well) allows a real degree of social intimacy between narrator and audience that is nonetheless impersonal. This impersonal intimacy is, we might say, an urban condition, comparable to city-dwellers’ ability to imagine themselves part of an urban public sphere. Place-sharing narratives set in Vancouver show us a variety of urban common grounds, which tend to take the shape of extended neighbourhoods: sizeable areas of the city that are shared by narrator and audience. While several of these grounds loosely correspond to official Vancouver neighbourhoods, such as Chinatown, or to smaller cities within the metropolitan region, such as North Vancouver, they usually also include high streets and major landmarks from the city’s downtown, which lies beyond those official neighbourhoods’ borders, and from other outlying parts of the city as well. Place-sharers also tend to share a wide swath of the city’s grid of streets at its coarser resolutions, mutually knowing the city’s major bridges, streets and intersections by name and relative location if not more intimately. And place-sharing narratives set in Vancouver almost  106  always assume that the dramatic topography of the city’s north-western coastal edge—the high-relief horseshoe formed around Burrard Inlet by the North Shore mountains and the Vancouver peninsula—is mutually well known to the narrator and the audience. For example, Alice Munro’s narrator, in the story “What is Remembered,” assumes few details of the city to be common ground but instead assumes her audience’s knowledge of a broad, regional overview of the city and its surrounding municipalities. The focalizing character in this story lives on Vancouver Island, and the narrator assumes that what knowledge this character has of metropolitan Vancouver is equally well known to her audience. Farther-flung municipalities like Horseshoe Bay and White Rock aside, the well-known neighbourhoods and landmarks in this story cluster tidily around the Burrard Inlet: Bowen Island, West Vancouver, Dundarave, Hollyburn Mountain, Lynn Valley, the Lion’s Gate Bridge, Prospect Point, Stanley Park, Kitsilano, UBC. (Even narrators who assume that very little about Vancouver is known to their audience will frequently make exception for the more famous features of this picturesque horseshoe view: the North Shore mountains, the inlet, Stanley Park, and the Lion’s Gate Bridge.)65 A study of the common grounds assumed in literary texts adds to our understanding of how citydwellers experience their city as shared space by describing urban common grounds as territories larger than neighbourhoods, territories that are experienced as shared on some other basis than that the sharing community members simply live nearby one another. By assuming mutual knowledge of certain Vancouver grounds, place-sharing narrators make such knowledge part of the social context of their respective circles of address. If place-sharing narratives offer a survey of some of the kinds of larger-thanneighbourhood urban territories that city-dwellers experience as shared, they also offer  107  information about relationships that people experience as forming the social basis for such common grounds. In other words, if (as I observe to be the case) Clark and Marshall’s “community membership” is the assumed basis for most narrators’ assertions of common ground (cf. Chapter One), these narratives illustrate instances of the kinds of community that city-dwellers experience, as well as instances of the sorts of common ground. Assumed community and in-common terrain both vary from narrative to narrative (and, in some cases, from one point to another in a given novel). In most cases, however, the narrators are apparently motivated by the following assumption: that the stories they tell will engage their audience because they share a sympathy of locality, and a sense of personal relevance, invoked by references to their common ground. As members of a community that shares such grounds, their audience will care to hear where the story’s events happen. They will care to hear what happened there because they know the place too.66 Outside of the narrator-implied audience relationship, it may be true, as Chong asserts, that worldly reading audiences are bound to dismiss these texts, not knowing for themselves the Vancouver territory they see treated as common ground in them (Chong “Writers”). But I would prefer to keep open the question of whether, when encountering these narratives, such readers would recognize themselves as lacking in the very sympathy and sense of personal relevance that they witness being assumed as the social context of the storytelling, and whether they experience that lack with displeasure, indifference, boredom, confusion, curiosity, or, perhaps, yearning. Shani Mootoo’s short story “Out on Main Street” reveals that urban common grounds may be diffuse and geographically uneven. In this story the protagonist-narrator and her audience’s mutual knowledge gathers together dispersed patches of Vancouver’s  108  terrain. Their shared ground covers the Punjabi Market on south Main Street; downtown Vancouver, several kilometres away from the market; and the unspecified storytelling location, which I read as possibly suburban and certainly ex-centric—that is, as somewhat distant from both of these centres. (It also includes, apparently, some knowledge gleaned from similar life-experiences in distant elsewheres. Although the narrator does not assume that her audience knows Trinidad as she does, her figures of speech assume Caribbean knowledge. For example, commenting that men never notice her when her girlfriend is with her, she says, “with Janet at mih side, I doh have the chance of a penny shave-ice in de hot sun” [50].) The narrator and audience’s shared map of these dispersed Vancouver places is also unevenly intimate and fine-grained. In fact, neither of the specific Vancouver locations that the narrator mentions is known mutually in any closeness of detail to the narrator and audience, although they jointly know of those places. For instance, they share knowledge of the Punjabi Market area of Main Street as a significant location. The story’s opening lines imply that Main Street is a deeply relevant place for this narrator and her audience. The question of going there or not is an obvious and important topic between them, one that motivates the telling of this story. The narrator begins as follows, taking Main Street’s relevance and specific identity for granted as well known: Janet and me? We does go Main Street to see pretty pretty sari and bangle, and to eat we belly full a burfi and gulub jamoon, but we doh go too often because, yuh see, is dem sweets self what does give people like we a presupposition for untameable hip and thigh.  (45)  109  The rest of her story explains the other reasons she is “real reluctant” to visit Main Street (48). It is an uncomfortable place for her, a kind of touchstone of ethnic and sexual identity. There she experiences with shame her “watered-down Indian” heritage when faced with the “good grade A Indians” who work and shop there (45), and there she feels her lesbian sexuality scorned and threatened. Her audience apparently knows well the character of her “Main Street,” for the narrator does not need to explain which part of the long, diverse Vancouver high street she is referring to.67 The narrator judges that her audience will recognize the Punjabi Market stretch of Main Street as obviously her referent, given their common ground; it is the hub of Indian culture in Vancouver. However, despite their mutual knowledge of this particular “Main Street,” the narrator assumes that her audience needs an introduction to one of its prominent restaurants. Accordingly, she describes the restaurant, offering the details as new information: In large deep-orange Sanscrit-style letters, de sign on de saffron-colour awning above de door read Kush Valley Sweets. Underneath it in smaller red letters it had Desserts Fit for The Gods. It was a corner building. The front and side was one big glass wall. Inside was big. Big like a gymnasium.  (49)68  Having been there—having experienced there the ambivalent desires and the complicated shifting allegiances and alienations around ethnic identity and sexual orientation that are the point of her story—the narrator now knows Kush Valley Sweets in intimate detail. Her audience does not know the place, so she must accommodate their lack of knowledge by offering scene-setting information. Mootoo’s place-sharing narrative suggests that urban common grounds can be generalized, coarse-grained understandings of different  110  parts of a city. People may share knowledge of a place and speak about it as common ground without knowing it intimately. In “Out on Main Street,” the narrator’s one brief reference to Vancouver’s downtown suggests that she and her audience do not know it intimately either, although they both know of it. In this case, the narrator treats the downtown as if it were known to herself and her audience, but she does not refer to it with the specificity that would indicate close, detailed knowledge. I read her as referring to it with a sense of its distance from herself and her audience—personal, felt distance as well as, perhaps, physical distance. I tuck mih elbows in as close to mih sides as I could so I wouldn’t look like a strong man next to [Janet], and over to de l-o-n-g glass case jam up with sweets I jiggle and wiggle in mih best imitation a some a dem gay fellas dat I see in downtown Vancouver, de ones who more femme dan even Janet.  (50)  Overt performances of markedly gay male sexuality are not as common in some parts of downtown Vancouver as in others. If Mootoo’s narrator wanted to evoke a shared intimacy of downtown place-knowledge, to summon that feeling into her conversation with her audience, she might have said, “some a dem gay fellas dat I see down on Davie,” referring specifically (and in familiar shorthand) to the West End street where men’s performances of gay identity are most at home. But she chooses to generalize distantly instead. This story’s narration implies for the narrator-audience relationship a close overlap of world knowledge and a diffuse, generalized Vancouver common ground. It also implies a mutual comfort with Indo-Trinidadian-Canadian English and a shared  111  conversational interest in confessing personal experiences and views (the story ends with, “So tell me, what yuh think ’bout dis nah, girl?” [57]). And this story about an outing on Main Street is relevant, in the social context of this relationship, because the narrator and her audience together find its particular ambivalences and anxieties of ethnic and sexual identity personally compelling. These sympathies are more extensively foregrounded in this narrative than is a sympathy of specific locality: despite the title’s spotlight on a particular place, this narrative is not as interested in the geography of queer experience as “The Bravest Boat” was in a geography of moral and aesthetic contrast. But the few references to the narrator and her audience’s Vancouver common ground do serve to show the sympathy of their orientation towards the Vancouver places, Main Street and downtown, and to map the complexities of identity onto the space of the city. Narrator and audience’s sense of mutual distance from these known places suggests for them, as I have said, a location ex-centric to both centres. In my mind, their location is somewhere to the east of Main, towards the suburbs, where I imaginatively locate large immigrant populations. But in fact it is impossible to place their location on a map of Vancouver. George Bowering’s short story “Standing on Richards” implies a common ground that precisely maps part of downtown Vancouver. The protagonist-narrator of “Standing on Richards,” whose name is Aubrey, tells his story to an audience who also knows those parts of the city, but he tells them things about a nighttime street life there that he assumes they do not know. Because he shares with his audience a map of this part of the city—although they share no street-level knowledge of its nightlife—Bowering’s narrator’s reference to this common ground invokes a place-based sympathy of interests. For Aubrey and his audience, sharing a common ground interests them in the difference  112  between their experiences of that place. By comparison, Mootoo’s narrator and her audience’s primary sympathies are based on their shared interest in personal experiences of racial and sexual identity, not on their shared knowledge of Main Street and downtown Vancouver. In “Standing on Richards,” common ground is a small segment of the city’s downtown, extending along Richards Street from its intersections with Drake, Davie, Helmcken, and Nelson to Georgia Street, and stretching from Howe Street on one side of Richards down to False Creek on the other. It is neighbourhood-sized, perhaps, but not known as a neighbourhood in any residential, next-door sense. Aubrey knows this terrain as a network of sidewalks, and by spending time there he has come to know the other people who work those sidewalks: I don’t look like anyone else standing on corners along Richards. You go down to Richards and Nelson, and you get your tall young women in high heels. In the summer you can see the cheeks of their asses […] A couple blocks in the other direction you’ll see the boys and the young men trying to look like boys, around Richards and whatever that street is on the other side of Davie. […] I do not look in any way like a boy.  (2)  While explaining about these groups of people, Aubrey takes the street names for granted as well known by his audience. Even the reference to a street whose name slips his mind assumes common ground, in its casual reliance on his audience to be able to supply the identity of “that street.”69 His audiences know this terrain well too, but not by having been there with Aubrey. He relies on them knowing this ground from walking it in the daytime, perhaps, or from driving these streets. Those who stand on corners in this story  113  rely on customers who flow through this area as part of a steady stream of car traffic, and while both street workers and their clients can thus presume shared knowledge of the street grid, they do not have equivalent relationships to the place. Common ground for them would be an acknowledged local field of contact between two quite different social positions and experiences of urban place. I am tempted to read the social context of this story’s narration as just such a street-worker/client encounter, but Aubrey’s narration is not designed for face-to-face address to a client. (Face-to-face with his audience, he would not have needed to describe his own physical appearance.) And while Aubrey and his audience’s common ground is precisely an acknowledged local field of contact between different experiences of place, their relationship is marked by a class-based sympathy, as well as a place-based one. The narrative’s social context is a substantial similarity of perspectives on and experiences of the world, a similarity that stops at the exceptional fact that Aubrey now stands on street corners. The narrator-audience relationship in this story is not based on prior personal acquaintance, nor on extensive shared world-knowledge—Aubrey introduces himself in full, and explains at length things he knows about, including the histories of various Vancouver street names and of Harris Tweed—but their relationship is apparently informal, sympathetic, and between equals. Explaining why he quit being a professor, Aubrey assumes his audience’s sympathy, saying “So you can imagine how I felt […]” (5). Several turns of phrase suggest that he assumes his audience’s inside knowledge of universities (4-5); his tone of address might be called collegial. More generally, a shared knowledge of the mainstream, middle-class map of Vancouver is an important part of the social context of this narrative. Bowering’s narrator is an odd-ball,  114  a failed former university professor in out-of-date clothing trying to sell his mind on a street corner, but he is not as ex-centric in his relationship to Vancouver’s centres of mainstream culture as is Mootoo’s narrator. He knows, for example, about daily life in Vancouver’s genteel, middle-class territories. While he is spending time with his first client he asserts that, meanwhile, “On the south side of False Creek young marrieds put their white plastic bags of fresh farm vegetables on the floor and began to consume threedollar cups of coffee” (13). Nevertheless, Aubrey has ventured, so to speak, away from the mainstream, middle-class experience of the city into social territory unknown to his former university peers. And his audience apparently belongs to that middle-class world; they are unfamiliar with the dark parking lot his first client takes him to. For their sake he refers to it as new: “a lot down by the north side of False Creek” (12, my emphasis). Aubrey’s narration is motivated by a sense that the new detail and colour he can add to the downtown street grid that is their common ground will be relevant, interesting information. While “Out on Main Street” and “Standing on Richards” imply contexts of narration defined by sympathies of social position (involving ethnicity, class, gender, and mobility within the city) as well as sympathies of locality, The Jade Peony does not: rather, it draws on place-based sympathies to compell attention despite social difference. Choy’s novel assumes a common ground that extends substantially beyond the borders of Chinatown and neighbouring Strathcona to take in downtown and east-central Vancouver landmarks—Gastown, Granville Street, St. Paul’s Hospital, Stanley Park, the North Shore mountains, King Edward High School, the Ocean View Cemetery, the intersection of Fourth Avenue and Alberta Street, and Hastings Park.70 (See Figures 1 and 2. Images  115  courtesy of Google Maps.) None of the novel’s three protagonist-narrators establishes edges for this Vancouver ground. The wider city is apparently so well known to these narrators and their audience that perhaps any part of Vancouver might have been mentioned off-handedly, without introduction. But the common ground that their narration establishes is, more narrowly, an extended neighbourhood, a corridor of central and east Vancouver that dwindles as it stretches northward and eastward, as spoken-of landmarks get thinner on the ground at those extremities.  Figure 1. The Jade Peony's extended neighbourhood in regional context  116  Figure 2. The Jade Peony's extended neighbourhood (detail)  This novel’s neighbourhood is densest, most detailed as a closely knit-together urban terrain, in the area that the three narrators define as the Chinatown where they grew up. (The density and detail of known territory is, in part, a function of how mobile a person is in the city; unlike some other Vancouver narrators, these three are confined to a small area by their youth and lack of access to automobiles as well as, especially, by the social pressures of white racism.) Their Chinatown covers the area stretching between Main Street to the west and Maclean Park to the east, and between Hastings Street to the north and Union Street to the south. False Creek’s fringes, which at that time verged on 117  the corner of Main and Georgia Streets, are included at its outermost corner. Jook-Liang and Sek-Lung’s narratives, especially, repeat again and again the prominent street names of this neighbourhood for their audience. The narrators recollect repeatedly, and block by block, the pathways of their habitual on-foot movement through Chinatown. They treat the specific streets as pointedly relevant. Jook-Liang, for example, recites in order all the primary east-west streets of her neighbourhood while she describes the look of the houses in that area: “Those damp shacks decaying on their wooden scaffolding, whose doors you reached only by negotiating rickety ramps—all the one- and two-story houses parallel along Pender and Keefer, Georgia and Union” (51). The narrators announce the streets by their proper names, as if casually treating them as well-known information. For example, Jook-Liang says of the path of her walks with an elder friend, Wong Suk: Wong Suk and I were, as usual, going to have a lunch of leftovers, then walk two blocks down Pender, across Main, down to Hastings near Carrall, to the Lux movie house. Hastings Street, outside of Chinatown, was where people always stared at the two of us—stared at this bent-down agile old man with the funny face […], at this almost nine-year-old girl with her moon face—but we didn’t care.  (45)  And Sek-Lung, whose attention to geographical detail prompts him to record the length of his “five-block sprint [home] from Strathcona” Elementary School (200), also recites as if with casual precision the pathways he traveled with his friend Meiying: Instead of turning south on Jackson, over the cobblestone roadway towards Maclean Park, Meiying turned north and walked even faster […] towards Hastings Street […] She double-timed over the tracks […] Meiying turned down a side street. […] She pointed towards the end of the block […]  118  (208-9)  Identifying the major Chinatown streets by their proper names, these narrators deliberately mark their assumption that their audience shares these places as a common ground. Indeed, their apparently casual certainty that each street and landmark is reliably familiar begins to seem ostensive as the proper nouns accumulate and repeat. The Jade Peony’s place references almost command recognition; but in their generous abundance they also leave room for laggard audience-members, who might not have quite recognized yet the Chinatown geography they reference, to catch up. Tracing and re-tracing the geography of the narrators’ childhood experiences, this novel’s narration offers its audience a homegrown Chinatown perspective on the street grid.71 On the first page of her narrative, for example, Jook-Liang notes that during her stepmother’s pregnancy, her “Grandmother, or Poh-Poh, was going regularly to our family Tong Association on Pender Street to pray for a boy” (13). This account places her Poh-Poh’s “Old China” customs, including a desire for grandsons, firmly within a Vancouver neighbourhood. Jook-Liang’s generously informative narrative style assumes that the Tong Association she mentions is not entirely unknown to her audience—that is, she treats it as inferable when anchored to the known entities “our family” and “Pender Street”—but her manner of speaking works to build up, as if from scratch, a textured impression of a lived Chinese-Canadian experience in this neighbourhood. The three narrators are consistently, generously explanatory, addressing themselves to a specifically contemporary audience, an audience that does not know anything about the historical experiences of Chinese-Canadians living in Vancouver. They consistently gloss Chinese words, explain “Old-China” customs and Chinese-Canadian experience and points of view. And they explain things about pre-1950s Vancouver. “During the Depression and  119  the opening of the war years, you could only buy such a classic coat on Granville Street,” offers Jung-Sum, for example (93). Amidst all this explanation, the assumptions of common ground implied by proper names such as “Granville Street” stand out: as I have argued, these narrators deliberately assert that their audience shares with them extensive knowledge of present-day Vancouver geography. As part of the social context of narration in The Jade Peony, this common ground is the basis for invoking a strong local sympathy, and a shared sense among narrator and audience of the place-based personal relevance of the war-time experiences the novel’s three narratives relate. The audience here has no Chinese heritage, no historical memory of Chinatown, and does not speak Mandarin, but is presumed to share with the narrators a mutual interest in the events related precisely because the events took place on their shared ground. Importantly, then, the common ground assumed in the narrators’ address differs from the racialized geography that they describe having experienced as children.72 They describe distinctly defined neighbourhood borders, outside of which they encountered the stares and rudeness of a white, English-speaking, middle-class Vancouver. Jook-Liang recalls being stared at on Hastings Street. Sek-Lung recalls that outside of the safety of Chinatown’s borders, “on streetcars or in shops where only English was spoken,” he and his classmates encountered “the humiliation and the mockery” of Anglo-Canadian racism (177). And Jung-Sum recalls the up-market men’s clothing stores on Granville Street, west of Chinatown, as places where salesmen in “black suit[s] sniffed at Chinamen” (93). One of their friends, Liang reports, believes that all young Chinese-Canadians should “have real English names. When we’re outside of Chinatown,” she thinks, “we should try not to be so different” (124). Evidently, white, Anglophone, middle-class Canadians  120  were only to be encountered outside of Chinatown, in the experience of these three narrators.73 And yet their own audience, which is Anglophone and presumably not Chinese-Canadian, shares the neighbourhood streets with them. While the novel’s primary audience is people familiar with Vancouver, its references to Vancouver landmarks are so generously phrased and so often repeated that the narrators seem to adopt a disclosing attitude towards a secondary audience of bystanding readers whose grasp of the geography is imperfect. The narrators repeatedly refer to certain places and institutions using their full proper names—“the Vancouver Health Inspection Board” (32), “St. Paul’s Hospital” (32, 151), “the North Shore mountains” (51, 81, 155, 165; Sek-Lung only finally shortens his reference to “the mountains,” on page 207, after twice speaking of them more formally), and “the Anglican Vancouver Chinese Mission” (91) for example—which thus give those bystanders who do not actually recognize these places a few extra, descriptive words to help them accommodate the reference.74 At the same time, however, these repeated proper nouns emphatically call upon their primary audience to recognize their Vancouver specificity. As an important example, one of the sites that is referred to with repeated formality is the former Carnegie Library. Jung-Sum mentions it first, treating its identity as inferable and in fact phrasing his reference less than formally, by saying, “the library at Main and Hastings” (76). But Sek-Lung later elaborates more formally, referring first to “the Carnegie Library at Hastings and Main just off Chinatown” (219) and then to “the Carnegie Library at Hastings and Main, between the boundaries of Chinatown and Little Tokyo” (223-4). By waiving his narratorial right to treat the Carnegie, on its second mention, as already textually evoked within his storytelling address, Sek-Lung refuses to  121  let the library become simply a textualized referent for his audience. He insists on their recognizing it as a specific Vancouver landmark they already knew. He thus calls on them to recognize it as people for whom this library and its Hastings and Main location are especially and mutually relevant because of the landmark’s intense visibility in a contemporary Vancouver landscape. (By rehearsing this landmark’s importance as a boundary-marker, Sek-Lung also reframes the well-known site within his description of a specifically Chinese-Canadian experience of the place.) What the narration of The Jade Peony expects to summon, in its audience, is a shared sense of the personal relevance for them—as well as for the narrators—of what growing up in this neighbourhood felt like. Other novels that reconstruct a historical experience of Vancouver Chinatown life—notably SKY Lee’s Disappearing Moon Café and Jen Sookfong Lee’s The End of East—are not so consistent in their patterns of reference to Vancouver locations and landmarks as Choy’s The Jade Peony. Their narrators tend to shift unpredictably between assuming local knowledge shared with their audience and introducing local neighbourhoods and landmarks as if they were unknown. The social contexts of their narration are less clearly defined by an extent of physical common ground than by a shared fascination with the juicy and “intricate complexities of a family with chinese roots” (S Lee 19), in Disappearing Moon Café, and a shared interest in the aesthetics and emotional tensions of the narrator’s attempt to reconcile herself to her own inherited, complex, Chinese-Canadian family history, in The End of East. However, it is worth pointing out that these two novels construct maps of a known Vancouver that are distinctly similar to The Jade Peony’s map. In each of these two novels, the accumulated points of local reference that the narrator does assume to be common ground overlap  122  substantially with the extended neighbourhood outlined in Choy’s novel. Each of them assumes knowledge of a very similar corridor of central and east Vancouver, a corridor densest in Chinatown but stretching northward to Stanley Park and southward to landmarks in central residential Vancouver—Oak Street and the Connaught (Cambie Street) Bridge in Disappearing Moon Café, and South Cambie street in The End of East.75 Despite their differences, all three suggest that city-dwellers may assume common grounds that extend beyond conventional neighbourhood boundaries. They also suggest that, as un-textured grids of streets and sparse assortments of landmarks, these grounds may be assumed shared even despite very different, differentially racialized, experiences of the place. The extended neighbourhood featuring in Coupland’s Girlfriend in a Coma, like that in The Jade Peony, is well known as a densely coherent terrain at its centre and more sparsely known at its outer fringes. Unlike Choy’s narrators in The Jade Peony, these narrators really are casual about their assumptions of local familiarity; in their nostalgic and fated attachment to their childhood neighbourhood, they seem to have imaginatively insulated themselves from the differences of perspective that mark a diverse urban modernity. Coupland’s protagonist-narrators, Jared and Richard, share with their audience a nearly perfectly mutual knowledge of the conjoined suburb cities of North and West Vancouver. In particular, they share both fine-grained details of certain parts of this north-shore urban area and a coarse-grained overview of the rest of it: they mutually know the streets and back alleyways of several small, tucked-away residential neighbourhoods; major and minor features of the conjoined cities’ topography (Grouse Mountain and the runs and chairlifts of its ski hill, the Capilano River, the Cleveland  123  Dam, a golf course, the Capilano canyon forest and the pathways of that forest); its major highways, central city streets, and bridges; and its city-central public spaces, such as Park Royal Shopping Centre and the Lonsdale Quay.76 At its sparser fringes, this common ground terrain stretches out southward to include a few major landmarks (but not street names) from Vancouver proper: the famous Aquarium at Stanley Park, the landmark Hotel Vancouver, and, “off […] across town,” the University of British Columbia (57). It even extends southward from there across the international border, to the small American weekend-trip destination towns Bellingham and Birch Bay.77 It does not, however, extend northward past the ski runs: Grouse Mountain’s slope climbs steeply up behind their suburb, cutting off their knowledge of the terrain behind them. Jared and Richard share their knowledge of this extended neighbourhood with their audience in just as much intimate detail, and just as casually, as the group of lifelong friends who are the novel’s central characters share it with each other—and the latter grew up side by side, exploring the place together. For example, when he and his friend Linus take a shortcut together from one part of the suburb to another, Richard narrates their route to his audience as offhandedly as if he had been mentioning it to another of their friends. “We decided to walk up the hill to Pam’s [movie] shoot while Hamilton drove,” he says. “We shortcutted through the golf course and […] arrived at the location on Southborough Drive bemucked” (87). The suburban neighbourhood terrain of common ground assumed by Coupland’s narrators supports two new observations about how city-dwellers experience urban terrain as a shared place. For one, several of Coupland’s works of fiction, Girlfriend in a Coma included, are collectively remarkable among other Vancouver fictions for the  124  position they take with respect to the city. Whereas most narrators look out from the central Vancouver neighbourhoods of the Point Grey Peninsula or downtown, across the Burrard Inlet, towards the North Shore mountains, Coupland’s narrators look down from the North Shore slopes at the central city.78 Their ex-centric perspective suggests that even city-dwellers who live at the fringes of a city, at a remove from the majority of the population and the city’s most public spaces, easily conceive of their neighbourhood as a common ground shared with unknown others. Even the quiet back-streets of Jared and Richard’s suburban home neighbourhood are as well known to their audience as the central Chinatown streets are known to Jook-Liang and Sek-Lung’s audience. Another new perspective is offered by this place-sharing narrative’s example of urban common grounds that include both official and unofficial pathways through parkland and scrubland. North Vancouver’s residential neighbourhoods are tucked in among forested folds in the mountainside, and Jared and Richard’s audience share with them an intimate knowledge of the off-grid byways into and through these folds as well as of the street grid. The social context of narrative address is layered in this novel. Hence it suggests two rather contradictory things about the community assumed to know the narrators’ North Vancouver. On one hand, Richard and Jared’s style of address suggests that their primary audience grew up with them in North Vancouver. How else do people come to know quiet suburban neighbourhoods so well, except through long residence there (and especially childhood exploration and visiting)? Neither this novel nor the analyses of urban life I have read offer any other explanation. Unlike the numerous landmarks the narrators refer to, which are visible, public spaces likely well known to most North  125  Vancouver residents if not to a wider Vancouver community, most of the many street names they assume to be equally well known are not busy public thoroughfares but quiet Drives. For Richard especially, lifelong intimacy with the extended neighbourhood prompts a nostalgic, cherishing attention to the specific place, and he assumes that his audience will indulge if not share in his nostalgia about the place. Richard names backstreets and other landmarks with an insistence on their inherent relevance and mutually shared importance as specific places. He does not recite places’ full proper names with the same deliberate ostension of Choy’s narrators, but he returns repeatedly to certain landmarks’ names. For example, he mentions Park Royal Mall five times during his narrative, calling it “Park Royal mall” or “Park Royal” (37, 75, 153, 179, 181), and other characters refer to it in their reported speech an additional three times. His references seem to replicate local habits of speech: Vancouverites in my acquaintance confirm that “Park Royal” is not markedly informative phrasing but rather the colloquial name for this particular mall. He also narrates specific and extensive sequences of street names and pathways, offering his audience a careful charting of the characters’ movements through their neighbourhood. For example, he narrates at length the exact route one character takes when she needs a roundabout long cut: she hops onto [her motorcycle] and guns it up Delbrook Road, through Edgemont and across the Cleveland Dam. By now it’s fully dark. She takes the utility road up to Glenmore and then bombs down Stevens and into Rabbit Lane.  (195)  On the other hand, while their patterns of reference to North Vancouver streets and landmarks seem to assume primary audience who are longtime residents, even nostalgic fellow-neighbours, other elements of Jared and Richard’s style of address  126  suggest a second, much wider audience. Like the narrators of Coupland’s other works of fiction, Jared and Richard’s narration is saturated with the big brand names of international capitalism and American popular culture, and their brand name-dropping is carefully dated. When describing the events of the characters’ teenage lives, in 1970s North Vancouver, these narrators refer with equal casualness and assumed familiarity to Pebbles Flintstone, Charlie’s Angels, Tab, and La-Z-Boy as they do to now-obsolete features of a 1970s-era North Vancouver, such as Grouse Mountain’s old Blueberry chairlift (13). And describing the year when the world ends (“just before dawn, November 1, 1997” [278]), the narrators call on their audience to recognize Range Rovers, NutraSweet, and Shoppers Drug Mart. This signature of Coupland’s style has been widely read as speaking from a pointedly trans-local cultural moment, capturing the spirit and vocabulary of a particular international generation. (See, for example, Blencoe and Cowley’s argument that Coupland “is careful to set all of his novels in the year they are written, so that his oeuvre provides a history of the changes in [trans-local] contemporary culture” [my emphasis].) In my view, Girlfriend in a Coma is an exception among Coupland’s other works of Vancouver fiction, because its fixed focus on a local common ground addresses a primary audience of local people who know the international brand names simply because these brands have been part of their North Vancouver lives. JPod, by comparison, addresses itself primarily to an international audience who by default does not know North Vancouver. Nevertheless, in every respect except for the style of their references to local common ground, even Girlfriend in a Coma’s Jared and Richard would seem to be addressing a broadly international audience of white, middle-class,  127  North American suburbanites. Their corporate and pop-culture frame of reference is reinforced by their steady attention to the material artifacts of 1970s and contemporary middle-class suburban life, and the nostalgic attitude expressed in their references to these items assumes that their audience recognizes their own nostalgic and cherishing investments in the same lifestyle. Jared and Richard open their narrative by framing the city of Vancouver, and their North Vancouver suburb within it, in explanatory ways that abstract it from its local specificity and make it a symbol of the promise and possibility of (white, middle-class, Western) human culture. Richard opens his narrative by first affirming that his audience shares local knowledge with him, and then re-framing and introducing the well-known city as “a city” with a certain special abstract quality: Karen and I deflowered each other atop Grouse Mountain, among the cedars beside a ski slope […] Here is where I go back to the first small crack in the shell of time, to when I was happiest. Myself and the others, empty pagan teenagers lusting atop a black mountain overlooking a shimmering city below, a city so new that it dreamed only of what the embryo knows, a shimmering light of civil peace and (7)79  hope for the future.  He is looking at “the lights of Vancouver before the 1980s had its way with the city” (15), and although he sees a specific city here, he and Jared frame the loss of its innocence as integrally part of a world-wide cultural shift. The 1970s ended, they explain, and “With them left a sweetness, a gentleness. No longer could modern citizens pretend to be naïve” (46, my emphasis). When “the world” resumes its progress again for  128  the novels’ characters, Jared frames its re-genesis as happening simultaneously across the globe: In London the supermodels wear Prada and the photographers snap their photos. The young princes read their Guinness Book of World Records. In California, meetings are held and salad is picked at. […] The world indeed wakens: The Ginza throbs and businessmen vomit into Suntory whiskey boxes to the giggles of Siberian party girls […] cities shine: cities of gold and tin and lead and birch and Teflon, molybdenum, and diamonds that gleam and gleam and gleam.  (283)  When combined with the narrators’ casual assumption of their audience’s knowledge of international popular culture, their framing of local events as part of a world-wide apocalypse seems to address itself to a broadly-based audience. The contradiction between these two layers of address—Jared’s and Richard’s primary address to nostalgic fellow-neighbours and their simultaneous framing of events for a secondary, apparently international, audience, who would likely never have heard of Rabbit Lane or the Capilano canyon pathways—can only be finally resolved in individual readers’ accommodating imaginations. For me the combination of these two tendencies in the novel’s address does two things. For one, as I mentioned, it reminds me that even the most neighbourly and locally-based contemporary community shares a frame of reference shaped at least as much by international corporate brands and popular culture as by physical common ground. For another, it suggests to me a more unexpected conclusion: that Coupland is offering the city’s suburban pathways as common ground to an international audience as if they know it—as if they would somehow recognize this quiet North Vancouver neighbourhood, inhabited by “the middlest of middle classes”  129  (40), in all its specificity, as home. This latter conclusion recalls the notion that suburbs are the same everywhere, that the experience of living in a North American suburb is removed from any sense of local specificity. But Coupland’s nostalgia for a specific suburb denies that notion, strangely implying instead that international audiences have inherent knowledge of his North Vancouver home. Collected together, these place-sharing narratives—Mootoo’s “Out on Main Street,” Bowering’s “Standing on Richards,” Choy’s The Jade Peony, and Coupland’s Girlfriend in a Coma—suggest a few useful points about how city-dwellers experience parts of their city as shared places. Mootoo’s and Coupland’s narratives indicate that city-central landmarks and downtown street culture may be part of many city-dwellers’ relationships to one another even if these downtown sites are held as distant grounds. Bowering’s and Choy’s narratives suggest that people assume common grounds that are no less thoroughly shared for being very differently experienced. People’s relative positions with respect to certain grounds, and therefore the different textures and degrees of their intimacy with these places, may be based on radical differences in their racial and class identities, their freedom of movement, their access to personal and professional legitimacy (as judged by mainstream national and municipal society), and/or their historical memories. But they nonetheless recognize themselves as sharing these grounds. What I have been calling the sympathy of locality, the shared sense of the narrative’s personal relevance implied for narrator-audience relationships by the narrators’ reference to such territories, is not, then, necessarily an easy, happy experience of civic equality based on the sharedness of place. Common ground is not necessarily either comfortable or politically neutral. It is an experience of contact mediated by  130  narrative address, and it may evoke awareness of reciprocal alienation or differentials of power even while acknowledging shared territory. These place-sharing narratives suggest as well that narrators may assert common ground precisely in order to claim sympathies of locality. Choy’s narrative—and Coupland’s too, to an extent—make their references to common ground deliberately ostensive, lavishly repeating and sequencing local place names, so as to claim the shared personal relevance of these places. The Jade Peony asserts the shared personal relevance of common ground in the context of a racial divide between narrators and audience, and Girlfriend in a Coma suggests it in the context of race and class identity, but both claim it to assert the importance of events which happen right here, on shared ground.  Edge-setting narratives Edge-setting narratives in Vancouver fiction show us a complementary picture to the one illuminated by place-sharing narratives. They show the areas of the city that are off shared maps: distant zones at the city’s fringes, fine-scale details of the residential neighbourhoods that fall between the coarse lines of the city grid, specific little restaurants and pubs known by name only to their locals, and neighbourhoods marked off as the territory of other classes or ethnic others. Among other things, they reveal the city to be a terrain that can be known to a range of different degrees of resolution; or, to use a non-visual metaphor, a terrain that can be sensed at a range of different textural grains.80 Theories and analyses of urban life offer one context for understanding the edges set in these narratives. This context is a widely-shared concern with the socio-political  131  pressures that limit or even prevent experiences of collective membership of urban place. I think of these pressures as setting limits on common ground in certain circumstances. As urban theorists Doreen Massey, John Allen and Steve Pile argue in their book City Worlds, city-dwellers experience their cities as divided into multitudes of different worlds, some mutually exclusive and some overlapping.81 No one person can access all of the different worlds being lived in a single city. And, importantly, while few people would feel comfortable in or even be able to find many of the city’s worlds, some people are radically restricted (by their marginalized class status, ethnicity, gender, age, literacy, or physical ability, etc.) in what worlds they are allowed or enabled to access comfortably.82 When different worlds collide, as people move about the city or make their homes next to each other, there are several possible outcomes, according to Steve Pile: One outcome […] is that people reject difference and draw ‘walls’ around themselves and their communities, either to defend themselves or, more commonly, to protect their advantages. This is the point at which physical boundary lines are drawn across a city in an attempt to fix its spaces. Another, more fluid possibility, however, is for people to remain indifferent to the close proximity of others, remote in their ways despite their nearness to everyone. (85) In both of the cases Pile describes, people react to others’ difference from themselves by instituting boundaries between themselves and their fellow city-dwellers. In neither case is the outcome positive, because they both indicate people’s refusal to recognize the equal worth and mutual responsibility, the basic human commonality, implied by their physical nearness to one another.83 However, only one of these cases—the former—indicates a  132  complete refusal of the commonality I am discussing. Common ground in my sense requires no personal relationship at all. The most reciprocally indifferent (or even hostile) pair of city-dwelling strangers might still recognize that they share knowledge of a certain place. But by barring others from “their” urban terrain, people establish physical limits on shared place. They may do so by actively building physical walls (like those around the gated communities Pile discusses) or hiding behind barriers (such as freeways dividing areas of a city), by policing areas (formally, or, as in neighbourhood watch programs [Ahmed 27], informally), by gentrifying neighbourhoods to the point where some people do not feel comfortable in and cannot afford to frequent them, or by removing neighbourhoods to distant areas accessible only by car (cf. white flight [M Bennett 176]; cf. the reported anxiety of former Richmond city councilor Kiichi Kumagai that the Canada Line will bring drug-users into his city from central Vancouver [Pablo]). Concerned with these barriers to place-sharing, and recognizing that differentials of power and access mean that some groups of people suffer from the limits of common ground in ways that other groups do not, urban cultural critics have emphasized urban experiences of strangeness (Ahmed, Sennett, Simmel) and segregation (M Bennett), rather than mutual recognition and sharedness. As a context for my reading of edge-setting narratives, these concerns remind me to investigate what dynamics of power and exclusion are at work at the particular edges defined by these narratives. They urge me to examine where authority and power of access are located: do they rest with the narrators, who know enough to tell about areas of the city beyond the limits of their common ground, or with their audience, for whom those areas have, until the storytelling moment, remained mysteriously or invisibly  133  beyond the pale? They prompt me to consider how storytelling authority holds up against other kinds of empowerment or disempowerment, as the case may be. As I have argued, my reading of place-sharing narratives like Choy’s The Jade Peony showed that some narrators conceive of themselves as sharing common ground with their audience despite differentials of power and exclusive access. Their narratives relied on a sympathy of locality to claim their stories’ personal relevance to their readers. In these cases, claims of common ground were a source of authority for narrators whose inheritance of a racially marginalized social position had historically stripped them of claims to social power, belonging, and community-membership. Edge-setting narratives may handle narrative claims to power differently, strategically setting limits on common ground rather than strategically asserting its sharedness. As it happens, I do not find many strong examples of this sort of strategic edgesetting in Vancouver fiction, although Bowering’s story “Two Glasses of Remy” establishes an edge that is distinctly class-based. The two texts that I will discuss as examples of edge-setting narratives, “Two Glasses of Remy” and William Gibson’s “The Winter Market,” illustrate the limits to common ground exerted by what might be better called city-structural pressures, rather than socio-political pressures. Structurally speaking, a city is just too big in both physical expanse and population for the individual city-dweller to know every part of it or every person moving within it. The open domain of public space that city-dwellers like Woolf’s Clarissa Dalloway might imagine sharing, and the open set of citizens with whom they might imagine sharing it, are imaginative extrapolations from everyday experience. Citydwellers’ sense of potential access to all the public spaces and all the other people in the  134  city is balanced by their recognition that one could never access them all. And, meanwhile, cities collect together vastly different places and vastly diverse populations of people, as urban analysts emphasize. Parts of the city differ from one another according to, among other things, location with respect to the city centre; function for residential versus commercial versus recreation uses; age, economic value, style, and state of repair of the built environment; and the demographic of the people who live there. The sorts of walls and boundaries I have listed as established by socio-political pressures curtailing experiences of shared place—gated community walls, freeways, policed zones, differentials of gentrification, un-walkable distances—certainly also count as structural pressures delimiting experiences of common ground by separating one part of a city from another. A city’s diversity of parts is widely acknowledged. But I have not found a theoretical account for which parts of a city might be more likely to be treated as zones beyond the pale of common ground, versus which are likely to be treated as shared. I perceive that parts of a city differ in relative degree of apparent privacy or publicness, as well as in all the ways listed in the previous paragraph. I assume, accordingly, that citydwellers who imagine themselves sharing the city’s spaces with an indefinite group of fellow citizens are likeliest to be imagining the city’s public spaces as shared. There must be some correlation between relative publicness and the likelihood of a sense of sharedness. (On the flip side, there must be some correlation between relative privacy and sharedness, too. We are most certain of sharing place with a particular set of people—as opposed to a generalized, indefinite group of other citizens—when we share exclusive access to a certain private place.)  135  My own list of the parts of cities that seem especially public (and therefore especially likely to be shared with unknown others) includes busy high streets with wide sidewalks, centrally-located open squares and parks, green spaces, transit stations, and open-air markets. It also includes highly visible and distinctive buildings and monuments. The sheer visibility of a distinctive landmark makes its existence widely knowable, I suggest, even when a building’s interior is barred to public access. In Vancouver, the strict gridlines of the street network prevent citizens from getting a sense of their city’s landscape, Lance Berelowitz has argued, except in the moments when, traveling over bridges or taking scenic routes along the city’s ridges and the peninsula edges, citizens break free of the grid (52-3) and see Vancouver’s city- and waterscape unfold as a panorama around them (136-7). (Where the grid’s orientation skews at the hinge-point between the bulk of residential Vancouver and the downtown peninsula, the grid does briefly acknowledge topography.) In this city, then, the landmarks that might be most easily assumed to be widely shared are precisely those landmarks that are strikingly visible in the panoramic views—among them the mountains, the downtown skyscrapers, the oddly shaped entertainment venues on False Creek’s shores (BC Place and Science World), and the bridges themselves. On my list, more private-seeming areas include walled homes and policed areas, of course, but also quiet residential streets, outof-the-way parks, and smaller, less-visible shops and restaurants.84 My own experience of living in Vancouver suggests that the physical environment’s gradations of visibility and apparent publicness or privacy offer some context for understanding fictional placements of the edges of common ground.  136  George Bowering’s short story “Two Glasses of Remy” establishes the outer reaches of Point Grey as territory off the edge of the common ground shared by the narrator and his audience. In this case, differences of class and lifestyle apparently are part of what sets the limits on common ground. As in Bowering’s “Standing on Richards,” the narrator-audience relationship in this story is characterized by a familiar, among-equals tone of masculine camaraderie that is calibrated, in this case, to a shared working-class identity. References to their Vancouver common ground help establish this social position by means of both a shorthand, colloquial mode of reference and an assumption of shared affinity to parts of Vancouver that contrast with wealthy, suburban Point Grey. For example, at a moment when, in the middle of telling his audience about his brief, enchanted encounter with a wealth and class he had never before experienced, the narrator feels that his story might be stretching his audience’s credulity, he reaffirms his own comfortable, working-class identifications by saying, I’m not a gold digger, I’m not a gigolo, I’m a recently separated man with a taste for beer parlours and movies. Willy had been driving me home from the soccer game and a meatball sandwich on the Drive. Well, here I was, a short climb from the Fourth Avenue bus.  (65)  Here the narrator positions himself socially by indicating his own familiarity with Commercial Drive, which is a mixed-income East Vancouver neighbourhood with relatively low real estate prices and a history of immigrant settlement (or at least it was such a neighbourhood in 1999, when Bowering’s story was first published). He assumes his audience shares in his familiarity with that neighbourhood; they both know what soccer game he means, and together they can refer to the street as “the Drive.” The  137  narrator assumes they also both know Fourth Avenue, which runs westward to Point Grey. He uses their shared knowledge of the street to help express himself efficiently and communicate implications, as he exclaims (“Well, here I was”) over the distance he travels from that familiar neighbourhood in his story. And even in his reference to this street he positions himself as socially separate from the Point Grey resident he meets in his story: he knows the street best by its public bus-line, whereas she takes taxis and drives a Cadillac. As I mentioned, the class difference between this mysterious, wealthy woman on one hand and the narrator and his audience on the other partially determines the limits of common ground in this story. Having followed her into her quiet residential neighbourhood and driven with her to the Point Grey lookout, the narrator now knows them and can report back about them to his audience, for whom, he assumes, these places are unknown territory. Narrating his journey into this woman’s world, he reports, The taxi had been turning right and left. Now it turned left off Blanca, I guess, and into Belmont. These were all million dollar houses when a million dollar house was still something. The taxi turned into a circular drive in front of a big white mansion, I guess you’d say. Now what, I thought.  (65)  Here the major street grid and substantial landmarks of the area are still within the bounds of common ground for narrator and audience, but their details—the texture of the neighbourhood and its specific houses—are not mutually known to them, these details being known, by implication, only to those who live a certain lifestyle.85 Likewise, although the route to the lookout is well-known to both the narrator and his audience, the lookout is not. Driving the woman’s Cadillac, a new experience for this narrator (“I’d  138  never driven a Cadillac before, and I’d never driven any kind of car during the year it was first bought” [66]), the narrator reports, I took two rights and headed out the drive to the university. […] We went past the Japanese garden and south along the ring road, the ocean to our right, beyond some trees that were made to look like a forest in a book […] she motioned toward the lookout. This is a little parking space for about four cars. You can point the nose of your Toyota or Cadillac toward the edge of the cliff overlooking the Strait, and catch a glimpse of the log booms below. If you’re in a Cadillac, your back bumper isn’t all that far off the road.  (67-8)  Landmarks along the road out to the lookout are familiar to his audience, the narrator assumes, but perhaps not intimately enough known for him to presume to use proper names for them. He expresses them instead as inferable (speaking of “the university” and “the Japanese garden” instead of “UBC” and “Nitobe Garden”), placing them lower on Prince’s familiarity scale (cf. Chapter One) than he otherwise might have done. Having first phrased the lookout as inferable as well, he then immediately treats it as new, offering full explanation (“This is a little parking space…”). The Point Grey fairy-land this narrator tells his audiences about, with its richness and its storybook forests, are beyond the pale of their common ground, in part because of the limiting pressures of class. But the luxurious places of Point Grey may in part also be off the edge of common ground, in this story, simply because they are so distant from the city-central locations the narrator assumes to be mutually known. The social context of the narratoraudience relationship is grounded in places like the Drive and Cambie Street, which are  139  busy commercial high streets near downtown Vancouver. The mysterious woman’s residence is on a curving suburban cul-de-sac in a steeply-graded, treed, hillside neighbourhood distant from the city centre. The lookout is even farther west, at the very tip of Point Grey, and thus it is separated from the downtown by a steep hill and a broad belt of forest. (The neighbourhoods surrounding the university, at this tip of Point Grey, are not counted as part of municipal Vancouver.) The lookout is small, too, having space only for four cars, and it looks away from the city, over the ocean. By contrast to Commercial Drive and Cambie Street these places are not very public, in my sense. They are not central, or popularly frequented, or highly visible; from the Cadillac the characters do not look out over the iconic, postcard view of the mountains but in the opposite direction. The narrator in “Two Glasses of Remy” is willing to assume that his audience knows the general area of the story’s events—hence he phrases as inferable rather than new his references to other landmarks—but these tucked-away spots are not so likely to be known to fellow city-dwellers, he assumes. The gradations of publicness and privacy play a part in establishing the edges of common ground, and, in this story, they complement the differentials of class. In William Gibson’s story “The Winter Market,” common ground has edges because the city is simply too big and too various for the narrator and his audience to know all of the same terrain. The protagonist-narrator’s style of address suggests that he has a prior acquaintance with his audience: they already share knowledge of someone named Barry, for example (172). The narrator speaks with casual familiarity to an audience with whom he shares very similar cultural and professional frames of reference, an audience with whom he is on an equal class footing and who, he assumes, relate easily  140  to his aesthetic and value system. Certain parts of Vancouver are common ground he shares with this audience, but they do not hang out in the same places, and he has the advantage over his audience when it comes to detailed knowledge of his home neighbourhood and the areas he frequents socially. By mentioning their mutually-known geographical reference points, in the process of narrating a story that involves his own rambling movements through the city, he acknowledges this common ground, by paying friendly, polite tribute to the overlap in their respective Vancouver terrains. He uses short forms for certain place names, for example, to indicate his awareness that they share knowledge of Fourth Avenue (“Fourth,” he says) or to indicate his certainty that they both know which market is the relevant one to his story (“the Market”).86 But to convey properly the emotional texture of the setting and events of his story, he has to explain the places his audience does not know in any detail. “Trash fires gutter in steel canisters around the Market,” he offers, treating the steel canisters as items new to the audience’s awareness. Or he adds aesthetic and social texture to a neighbourhood otherwise known to his audience only from a distance: “Up in Fairview’s arty slum-tumble, someone’s laundry has frozen solid on the line” (161). His audience share a coarse map of his neighbourhood with him—he can name his home intersection casually to them, calling it “Fourth and Macdonald”—but they know none of its specific buildings or the small businesses, and he treats all of these as unknown: “I have two rooms in an old condo rack at the corner of Fourth and MacDonald, tenth floor” (152), or “We eat samosas in a narrow shop on Fourth that has a single plastic table wedged between the counter and the door to the can” (166). Later in the story, when he wanders away from his well-known  141  neighbourhood to an area of the city he does not know well, he assumes his audience will not know the bar he finds there, either: he winds up in a West End club that looked as if it hadn’t been redecorated since the nineties. A lot of peeling chrome over plastic, blurry holograms that gave you a headache if you tried to make them out. I think Barry had told me about the place, but I can’t imagine why.  (172)  “The Winter Market” shows us that the limits of common ground may be imposed by the sheer size and variousness of a city: even people who move in very similar cultural circles, and who share the same generalized map, are bound to delineate edges for their shared space, addressing themselves to acquaintances who live across the city. The pattern of address I describe characterizes most of the narrator’s references to Vancouver places and establishes the story’s primary layer address. But there is a second audience design built into the story: a sideways, tongue-in-cheek wink at bystanding local readers. Gibson wrote “The Winter Market” on commission for Vancouver Magazine in 1985. In accordance with its mission to inform and entertain “people who engage with the city” (“About Us”), the monthly magazine wanted a story set in Vancouver (Wiebe D5). Because the story is science fiction set in a high-tech and dystopic Vancouver sometime in the not-too-distant future, the street-level texture of the city that the narrator takes for granted as ordinary is as yet unimagined for the Vancouverite audience to whom the story was intended to circulate. While Gibson wrote a narrative that addresses people who are the narrator’s contemporaries in the future, he was always aware of the bystanding 1985 Vancouver readership. The story plays with their familiarity and unfamiliarity with the city it refers to; it assumes that the local  142  reading audience will take interest and perhaps pleasure in reading offhand narrative references to places they know well but do not know as having the textures assumed for them by the narrator. For example, in 1985 there was no “condo rack” at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Macdonald Street (there is none there still), and Gibson relies on his reading audience to know that fact, even while he has his narrator claim to live on the tenth floor of an old condo rack there. Likewise, while Gibson might have imagined that readers of Vancouver Magazine could see potential, in elements of the Fairview neighbourhood they knew, for it to eventually develop into the “arty-slum tumble” Gibson’s future narrator describes, they would not likely have known it as such at the time.87 This audience design for bystanding local readers in “The Winter Market” suggests more about city-dwellers’ experience of reading fiction set in their city, perhaps, than about city-dwellers’ experience of the city as a shared place. But part of their experience of reading a story like this is a dawning awareness of a writer who lives nearby and whose writing involves his fellow citizens in a shared joke about their city. And perhaps it is not incidental that Gibson’s story, which clothes the city in the hightech, dystopic trappings of an as-yet-unimagined future, should also exploit in its primary narrative address the city-dweller’s experience of not sharing certain neighbourhoods at any level of detail. Perhaps there is something productive and convenient for fictionspinning in the everyday urban experience of the city as a differentiated terrain, an uneven map of well-known and unknown areas. Bowering’s story seems to hinge on the same everyday experience of city life: while both stories refer very faithfully to the major lines and landmarks of a recognizable contemporary Vancouver, both of them also  143  give that recognizable city a fictional twist just where they slip off the edges of common ground. At the hidden fringes of the mutually known city live mysterious women and storybook trees, in “Two Glasses of Remy”—and things happen there to the questing everyman that are worth returning home to tell about! And in “The Winter Market,” the telling of a sci-fi story about a future Vancouver to contemporary local readers hinges on the same turns of phrase that, in the social context implied by the actual narration, fill in the blanks in the future audience’s rough-grained knowledge of certain areas of the city.  City-building narratives Living in a city that’s neither big nor small, Vancouver writers, in some respects, have the worst of both worlds. We’re not in a publishing centre like Toronto or New York City […] Nor can we write about our hometown in the same way a London or Paris writer can casually name-drop neighbourhoods to a cosmopolitan (or at least aspirational) readership.  (Chong “Writers”)  As I mentioned in my Introduction, novelist and journalist Chong asserts that Vancouver is just too small to be common ground shared with a sophisticated international reading audience. And indeed Chong’s own novel Baroque-a-nova (2001) is not a place-sharing narrative—Chong’s narrator-protagonist Saul introduces his audience to a place he does not expect them to know (an unnamed version, if I read it right, of Ladner, BC): I lived in a flat, drained municipality thirty minutes south of Vancouver whose outskirts were populated by faded barns and electrical towers. […] From the overpass I could see the traffic wash in from the city along Highway 17 past the  144  intersection, the hockey and curling rink, the cow pastures where new housing developments were planned, the highway stretching toward Tsawassen and the ferry to Vancouver Island. We were right by the ocean.  (16)  Saul begins this description of his hometown with an indefinite article (“a flat, drained municipality”), setting a tone of introduction from the beginning. He reinforces the indefinite article’s implication that his audience do not know the town by following it with mention of “faded barns and electrical towers,” elements of the place which he treats as new information. His story hinges on the strangeness of a turn of events that brings “the world” to little Ladner (51): the body of his internationally famous late mother is returned from Thailand, a German documentary crew comes to film the spectacle, and his suburban home is suddenly globally networked. Saul’s narration, accordingly, is designed to introduce his unknown little town to a cosmopolitan pop-culture audience. But even Chong’s Saul takes certain elements of his local place for granted as being recognizable to this distant audience. In the passage quoted here he treats Vancouver, Tsawassen and Vancouver Island as already known—at least by name—to his audience.88 Later in the novel, when he is recounting events that take place in Vancouver proper, Saul assumes his audience knows of Kitsilano and of Jericho Beach (133-4). In Baroque-a-nova, Ladner may be just too small to be an international common ground, but Vancouver has a fighting chance. The bigger centre wins. The place-sharing and edge-setting narratives that I have already discussed show Chong to be wrong about Vancouver, at least in part. Their narrators go ahead and assume various parts of Vancouver to be well known to their audiences. The writers of these novels and short stories decided that their fictions would emerge in a circle of  145  narrative address involving Vancouver common ground and an attendant Vancouverbased sympathy of location, a mutual sense of the personal relevance of local events to both narrator and audience. And they decided to circulate these narrative instances of address, in the form of short stories and novels, to as wide a reading audience as their published distribution could reach. (By contrast, William Gibson’s “The Winter Market,” with its Vancouver Magazine publishing venue, relies on the general map of Vancouver to which it refers being well known to its readers, as well as its implied audiences.) The writers’ respective decisions may have been motivated, in some cases, by a desire to transpose into a fictional narrator-audience relationship their own affinities to and knowledge of the city. Jen Sookfong Lee, for example, says that it does not “come off right” when she tries to write fiction set anywhere else (Wiebe D1), and Douglas Coupland apparently writes out of a personal sense of nostalgic connection to and intimate knowledge of his city: I notice striking resonances between his narrators’ perceptions of the city, in fictional texts like Girlfriend, Life After God, Everything’s Gone Green (a feature-length film), and even JPod, and Coupland’s own non-fiction persona’s sentiments about the city, as expressed in essays (cf. The Vancouver Stories) and his book, City of Glass: Douglas Coupland’s Vancouver.89 Other writers’ decisions to treat Vancouver as common ground in their fictions might have been driven by a desire to speak, however indirectly, to a specifically local reading audience. We might say of Choy’s work, for example, that it seeks to set up a receptive position for a potential readership that is personally invested enough in the city as a social space to respond with fully local sympathies. The Jade Peony’s uptake by the Vancouver Public Library’s One Book, One Vancouver promotion suggests that it has been received as especially  146  addressed to such an audience (cf. Grafton)—indeed, as able to include diverse local readerships in its scene of address. The city-building narratives I discuss in this section emerge out of fictional social contexts in which Vancouver is not common ground. The city (or part of it) is wellknown to the narrator, but not to his or her audience, and something about this difference in their knowledge of and intimacy with the city motivates the narrators’ storytelling. Lowry’s narrator and the other city-builders show us instances of city-dwellers selfstyling as knowledgeable insiders with a personal (and sometimes a specifically aesthetic) relationship to the city, insiders who express their relationship to it by means of an address to people they position as relative outsiders—a more or less distant audience for whom Vancouver is unknown territory. The social context of the storytelling address involves in each case, then, a gap in physical common ground, a gap in mutual knowledge of place. The boundary dividing the outside audience from insider knowledge is usually a more or less spatialized boundary of some kind. These narratives offer examples of the boundary spaces that are relevant to Vancouver narrators: a borderland, such as the borderland crossed in Lowry’s “The Bravest Boat,” for example, or the span from centre to fringe of a colonial space, or the distance between opposite poles of a diasporic trajectory.90 But in these city-building narratives, narrators and audience usually share other-than-spatial domains of mutual knowledge: they are not foreign to one another. The city-building narratives thus offer instances of the kinds of physically distanced social relationships that motivate narrators to bridge gaps in common ground by introducing their audience to Vancouver. Meanwhile, by speaking across those gaps  147  in common ground, these narratives bring dispersed, distantly located subjectivities into relationship, establishing relative spatial positions within a cross-spatial address. Theories and analyses of urban life offer an important context for my reading of city-building narratives. As I have claimed, the city is theorized as a space experienced as shared only by an imaginative leap facilitated by texts, and then only shared anonymously with an indefinite set of other citizens. When it comes to urban subjects’ experiences of more directly personal and specific relationships, such relationships are increasingly theorized as not located in a shared place.91 An often-repeated understanding of spatialized social relations is that shared local place is no longer a relevant experience in contemporary urban life, since, thanks to high-speed transportation, freeway networks, electronic communications, globalized systems of media distribution, and global capitalism, people rarely develop personal relationships and a sense of social context that are anchored in specific, shared place. As influential geographer Doreen Massey puts it, the contemporary world is a place of “stretched-out” social relations (147), not localized ones. According to Massey, many important social ties stretch outwards, away from the place where people find themselves, rather than exclusively binding people together in and to a specific place. Therefore, she argues, local places are best understood not as bounded grounds but as articulated moments in networks of social relations and understandings, […] where a large proportion of those relations, experiences and understandings are constructed on a far larger scale than what we happen to define for that moment as the place itself, whether that be a street, or a region or even a continent.  148  (154)  In other words, the particular character of any place you might name is determined at least as much by its multiple links to people and places elsewhere as by the proximal elements of the place itself. (Vancouver’s Punjabi Market, for instance, is defined as much by its links to the “social relations and understandings” of the broader Indian diaspora as it is by the relations between neighbours and properties along those few blocks of Main Street.) Hence, in their book Cities: Reimagining the Urban, Ash Amin and Nigel Thrift argue that accurate and responsible theories of urban life ought no longer to emphasize propinquity, proximity, or spatial intimacy as keys to social experience. They propose instead a vision of the city as spatially stretched patterns of communication, bringing distant sites into contact (maybe through visits to family and friends), but also separating adjacent spaces (as with neighbours with little in common with each other).  (22)  What these theories offer my reading of city-building narratives is a way of contextualizing the narratives’ address outwards to a distant audience, one with whom the narrator shares some social relationship that is not located in shared physical place but rather stretched out across a gap in common ground. These theories suggest that relationships with distant audiences are part of contemporary city-dwellers’ everyday experiences. In this context, city building narratives show storytelling in novels and short stories to be one medium among others by which city-dwellers connect across space to distant audiences. The medium of their narration acknowledges differences in knowledge of place and recognizes gaps in common ground. Social relationship is stretched out, but not ignorant of relative place. And these theories of urban social relations as stretched  149  out suggest the sort of social bonds that we might expect would draw audiences into the circle of address in these narratives, if novels and short stories are indeed comparable to other media of relationship: perhaps they resemble the bonds that Amin and Thrift imagine connecting people to their distant family and friends? The identifications of people who have interests and orientations “in common”? Or the tastes and desires that drive consumer capitalism? Recalling as well the kinds of discursive community I reviewed in my Introduction, I am prompted to ask whether the bonds connecting narrator and distant audience resemble the imaginative affiliations of diasporic nationality or the ethical allegiances of transnational political awareness, both of which bonds critics have seen depicted in urban Canadian novels. Each narrative offers a different version of such relationship, and hence each implies different motivations for narrating a story that builds a Vancouver for its audience. Generally, shared tastes and ethical orientations are not pinned to any easily specified geo-political allegiances, and storytelling scenarios do not match neatly with the theorized social bonds that I listed in the previous paragraph. In Ethel Wilson’s stories, however, values, sympathies, and aesthetic sensibilities are so closely aligned, despite what seems to be the substantial geographical distance separating the members of the circle of address, that I find myself reading her stories as narrated in the stretched-out social context of empire, as if by a voice writing home from the imperial outskirts. Lowry’s “The Bravest Boat” conjures its Enochvilleport for an audience whose geographical orientation we might specify as American, because it approaches the Canadian border from the south. Yet in other respects he does not assume a specifically American audience but more precisely an audience whose moral compass matches his  150  own and who is his equal and in worldly acquaintance with exotic and beautiful locations. Timothy Taylor’s novel Stanley Park speaks about Vancouver as if engaging an international connoisseur consumer’s appetite, appraising eye, and slight regional preference—appropriately so, perhaps, since Stanley Park is in part a novel about classy cooking. Appadurai’s theory of the production of locality in the modern world offers one additional theoretical context for the city-builders’ motivations. In Appadurai’s view, people work daily, by means of quotidian ritual and cultural practices, to produce the structure of feeling that is locality (182). In order to define their neighbourhoods, they must define as well the elsewheres, the “contexts against which their [neighbourhoods’] own intelligibility takes shape” (184). They are motivated to do so by the need for places within which they can be recognized as belonging and “empowered to act socially” (181). As Appadurai acknowledges, neighbourhoods cannot be considered closed to the outside world, and locality is now produced within a globally “engaged cultural and political literacy” (197). In my view, city-building narratives are engaged in trans-local “flows” of cultural and political information of the kind Appadurai identifies, but the motivated direction of their information-flow is the opposite of the one he describes. He points out that people draw information from the wider world in to their neighbourhoods and use it to produce a globally-engaged sense of locality: in his words, “global flows add to the intense, and implosive, forces under which spatial neighbourhoods are produced” (197). And indeed such a globally-literate production of locality, incorporating information (knowledge, ideas, images, aesthetic dispositions, sensibilities) drawn in from various elsewheres,  151  characterizes many of the Vancouver narrators’ implied senses of their local places. Choy’s definition of Chinatown involves immigrant attachments to “Old China” and his narrators incorporate Chinese ideas of person-hood into their senses of their local, social selves; Malcolm Lowry’s Vancouver-based narrators (in “Ghostkeeper,” for example) combine British and American national influences, and various European literary influences, in their local identities; Douglas Coupland’s narrators locate themselves in an international corporate culture; Timothy Taylor’s narrators (in his novels Stanley Park and Story House) incorporate various European and Asian aesthetics into their perceptions of locality. But if they draw influences in while constructing their Vancouver neighbourhoods, these narrators also direct influence outward: they work in the opposite direction to Appadurai’s “implosive forces.” Their address is directed outwards to more or less spatially distant audiences. By means of this address, city-building narrators offer their portraits of Vancouver to outsiders, extending to these audiences a relationship with Vancouver and hence a new set of Vancouver-specific information that these audience might now use in constructing their own respective senses of locality, elsewhere. As I have mentioned, the city-building narrators I discuss are each apparently motivated by different storytelling impulses. Some narrators seem to speak out of a desire for selfexpression, offering their own aesthetic responses to Vancouver as inherently interesting to outsiders because they reveal the narrators’ inherently interesting personalities (Bowering’s narrators in Burning Water and “Ebbe and Hattie,” or Coupland’s persona in City of Glass, for example). Others, however, seem to consider the city itself, in the various vivid incarnations they give it, to be relevant for their distant audiences’  152  respective senses of “cosmopolitan” knowledge (in Chong’s sense), or global literacy, so to speak. Their motivation may be a desire to expand their own connections to distant audiences by expanding the mutual cognitive environment they share with them, offering Vancouver as a relevant extension to that environment; or they may simply aspire to locate their city on distant people’s maps. And these narrators also construct Vancouver as a relevant and fascinating source of images and of information ripe for distant others to incorporate in producing their respective localities. If this last point seems unexpected, it may be because much of the literature of this city has not, I believe, been widely included within canons of relevant contemporary literature elsewhere. (And in the world of movie-making, Douglas Coupland is fond of reminding readers, Vancouver is far more often filmed as a stand-in for settings elsewhere than as a setting in itself [City of Glass 6].) Hence Kevin Chong’s frustration: there may not yet be a ready-made, cosmopolitan appetite for Vancouver-specific cultural wisdom and aesthetics. But city-building narratives seek to cultivate such an appetite, in part by assuming that it already exists and treating Vancouver as relevant new information. And Chong can take heart, if not simply by reveling in the courageous example these narratives set, then by enjoying the fact that as a city (if not yet as a literary setting), Vancouver is reportedly being observed and mimicked by city-planners worldwide. As urban analyst Lance Berelowitz writes, Vancouver has emerged as the poster child of urbanism in North America. In recent years, through a series of locally grown strategies, Vancouver has consciously willed itself into becoming a model of contemporary city-making.  153  […] places such as Shanghai, San Francisco and even Toronto [are] now hiring Vancouver architects and planners to fix their cities.  (1)  City-building narrators, too, have something to say about how dwelling in Vancouver is an experience worth sharing. Well before Vancouver’s urban form began to attract the attention of international city planners, Ethel Wilson was deliberately and attentively setting her stories in the city. In her novels The Innocent Traveller and Swamp Angel and her short story “The Window” in particular, the narrators position themselves as addressing English audiences from Vancouver, speaking back across the span of distance between colonial centre and fringe with its attendant gaps in knowledge.92 I say an English audience, and would add a friendly and interested one, although the audience’s nationality is not specified. These narrators have such confidence in a complete sympathy with their listeners as to suggest that they mutually share a national culture and perhaps a class background as well.93 But they must nonetheless introduce Vancouver to this distant and unknowing audience, setting out the city in its surrounding landscape for them, as in this passage from The Innocent Traveller: If you arrive in Vancouver on a fine day and go up into a high place, to Little Mountain perhaps or even to the top of some high office building, you will come under the immediate spell of the mountains to the north of you, and of dark coniferous forests. You will see high headlands sloping westward into the Pacific Ocean, and islands beyond. And then you will turn again and look at the mountains which in their turn look down upon the grace and strength of the  154  Lion’s Gate Bridge, upon the powerful flow of the Narrows, upon English Bay, upon the harbour, and upon the large city of Vancouver.  (123)  This passage is typical of Wilson’s narrators in its characteristic introductory and assuming mixture of new referring statements, inferables, and proper nouns—a mixture that I will shortly discuss—and in its slow, step-wise unfolding of Vancouver as one continuous panoramic view. There are distinctly similar passages in Swamp Angel (7), “A Drink with Adolphus” (73), and “The Window” (197). A deep affection for the place and its people motivates these narrators’ storytelling, just as it motivated Wilson herself (cf. Giltrow and Stouck 233). These narrators know and love Vancouver, and the stories they tell are not only about the subtle twists and shifts, flows and ebbs of affection and alienation in the mental and social lives of the characters (the “currents of disturbance, […] vulnerability or precariousness” [221] that Janet Giltrow and David Stouck convincingly identify as thematically and stylistically central in Swamp Angel). Wilson sets her characters’ consciousness and experiences firmly into the specific landscapes of Vancouver, telling stories that are also about the characters’ and narrators’ perceptions of the city. Thus, for example, in Swamp Angel the narrator suspends the plot, at the point when Maggie leaves the city of Vancouver, to comment on the different characteristics of the several roads leading from Vancouver to New Westminster. Her commentary plays a teasing game with her audience, which is led to assume as she introduces each new road that she is now telling them about the one Maggie takes, and that its character reveals something about Maggie’s destination and destiny. Will she take the first road, “a highway bright with motor hotels, large motorcar parks, small shops, factories of various sizes,” whose  155  development gradually obliterates the graceful remnants of a rural past (Angel 17), or will she take the second way, “called the river road,” where there remains yet “the agreeable illusion that the few pleasant and small rustic houses that stand alone amongst the trees […] are really permanent in their aloneness” (17)? When finally the narrator reveals that Maggie’s taxi takes the third of these roads, one which “had no special characteristics” (16), the narrator also reveals that she had stepped aside from the plot of the story on purpose to incorporate discussion of Vancouver’s expansion and development into her story. “The landscape is being despoiled, as it must” (17), she concludes, establishing an urban/rural contrast, and thus the expanding modern civilization’s threat to old values, as part of the thematic point of her story. And her use of proper nouns (Vancouver, New Westminster, the Fraser River) and precisely observed local details indicates that it is an urban/rural edge specific to Vancouver that generates her analysis: it is specifically “the city of Vancouver [that] is crawling on” (17).94 Apparently, where they are concerned with perceptions of the city, Wilson’s narrators are motivated to tell these stories to their distant audience by two impulses. One is a desire to share, with an audience whose worldview and aesthetic/sentimental value systems overlap extensively with the narrator’s, the effusions and the subtly cutting critical edges of the narrator’s feelings about the place. This impulse motivates the narration of The Innocent Traveller especially. Sperber and Wilson might explain that these narrators share with their audiences such an extensive mutual cognitive environment—an environment defined by a shared aesthetic as well as shared world knowledge—that they assume with certainty that their audience will feel the personal relevance of their observations and feelings, even about a place so far from the audience’s  156  daily experience. Because they share so much mutual knowledge and aesthetic perspective, but so little Vancouver common ground, Wilson’s narrators introduce the city to their audiences with their distinctive and unusual mixture of referring expressions. While their descriptions of the city are phrased as introductory, and they mark their assumption that their audience does not know the city by setting up information about it as news, they also use proper nouns liberally (in a special, Wilsonian way). And they frequently express things as inferable, as if their audiences, who know so much of what the narrators themselves know, could infer the identity of landmarks and place-names in a city they have never themselves seen. The opening page of Swamp Angel offers a good example (and it echoes passages from Wilson’s other stories): She looked out over the small green garden which would soon grow dark in the evening. This garden led down a few steps to the wooden sidewalk; then there was the road, dusty in fine weather; next came the neighbours’ houses across the road, not on a level with her but lower, as the hill declined, so that she was able to look over the roofs of these houses to Burrard Inlet far below, to the dark green promontory of Stanley Park, to the elegant curve of the Lion’s Gate Bridge which springs from the Park to the northern shore which is the base of the mountains; and to the mountains. The mountains seemed, in this light, to form an escarpment along the whole length of the northern sky.  (7)  The narrator’s pattern in the references in this passage is to refer to each feature of this panorama as if it were either inferable from general knowledge of cities and landscape or as if it were unused—that is, already known uniquely, as implied by use of a proper noun—but meanwhile to attach richly descriptive modifying phrases to each reference.  157  Thus, for example, “the […] garden” is helpfully described as small and green, as about to grow dark, and as leading down “a few steps” (which steps are themselves treated as new). More pertinently, Burrard Inlet is “far below,” Stanley Park is a “dark green promontory,” and the Lion’s Gate Bridge curves elegantly and “springs from the Park to the northern shore” (which shore is itself “the base of the mountains”). The narrator builds the panorama outward from where her character stands, by linking one feature of it to the next, so that each landmark is knit textually to the ones around it. The pattern of inference that the narrator requires of her audience here urges them to draw on the general world knowledge and on the aesthetic sensibilities they share with the narrator to infer the unique identity even of things that she introduces as well known but which they do not know (that is, the Inlet, the Park, and the Bridge). She relies on the accuracy of their imaginative inference, assuming that—with the help of her own generous descriptions—they will be able to conjure up accurately resonant connotations for the names “Stanley Park” and “the Lion’s Gate Bridge.” Perhaps, even at their distance, this narrator’s audience has heard of these few iconic Vancouver landmarks: in their letters home to England, the characters in The Innocent Traveller exclaim to their audience, “You should see Stanley Park” (121, 122, emphasis in original), apparently quite assured that they have heard of the place. But the narrators in both stories generally assume an introductory posture, setting Vancouver out for unknowing audiences. Their proper nouns, in this context, ask from their audiences the imaginative inference I described in the previous paragraph, expecting that audiences who share such an extensive worldview with them will infer accurately. Consequently, the narrator of The Innocent Traveller can use proper nouns for street names and  158  landmarks that her audience has presumably never heard of, as she does when, in one chapter, she repeats the name “Barclay Street”: So Rose and her Great-Aunt started off down Barclay Street in very good spirits on a sunny July afternoon.  (146)  So Great-Aunt and Great-Niece proceeded down Barclay Street towards English Bay, Rose bowling her hoop […]  (146)  She pranced up Barclay Street, carrying her Minutes […]  (153)  The narrator repeats the street name here out of a sort of cherishing pleasure she takes in casting this street in her account of a wonderful day. In its repetition, the street name becomes a mild joke about Topaz’s silly buoyancy, but it also becomes an incantation: abstracted from its deictic value, the proper noun comes to evoke the narrator and audience’s growing joint understanding of the happy connotations of this street. Ethel Wilson’s narrators are motivated by a desire to share this kind of aesthetic and sentimental accord with their audience, by introducing their audience to the Vancouver that has become so resonant for them. The other impulse motivating Wilson’s narrators to introduce Vancouver to their distant audiences is an impulse to bring home, so to speak, a narratorial perspective on English and Anglo-Canadian society, and on individual characters, sensibilities and patterns of consciousness within this society—a perspective that has been sharpened and clarified by the narrators’ exposure to the frontier.95 In this sense, Wilson’s narrators consider their perceptions of their characters’ social and mental lives in the city to be relevant for their distant audiences’ sense of local subjectivity. As a city of beauty, as a new city taking shape right at the edges of wild natural landscapes, as a city that harbours  159  English society at a great distance from England, and yet as a city where different social classes, religions, and ethnicities mix with some freedom (cf. Innocent 121), Vancouver and the perceptions it evokes offer a source of images and social analysis relevant to the English audience’s respective production of its own located subjectivity. That is, the narrators introduce Vancouver to their implied audiences as an elsewhere, a distant context, that sheds new light on their English here, by force of contrast. To paraphrase Appadurai, Vancouver and its environs offer their audiences a context against which their own home neighbourhoods’ intelligibility takes shape. This implicit motive is evident in the treatment of Vancouver in “The Window” and, less pointedly, in Swamp Angel, but it is most clearly marked in the narration of The Innocent Traveller. (See endnote 92.) The latter novel also provides a model for the narrator’s address back to England in the letters written home by the family newly settled in Vancouver. The letter-writers’ enthusiasm for Vancouver’s beauty is summed up in their repeated, written exclamations of “You should see Stanley Park…” (Innocent 121-2)—exclamations that seek to explain and describe for their unknowing audience the aesthetic and sentimental texture of this city, but which resort to using proper names to refer to unique landmarks, as if the names alone might almost explain the rapture one feels experiencing these places firsthand. The narrators of Wilson’s Vancouver fictions construct the city for their audience as, variously, a place where modern time and frontier space combine to emancipate the Englishperson settling here (Innocent, “Window”), as a beautiful object of contemplation which inspires introspective spiritual questing (“Window”), and as a multicultural urban centre where one who is seeking emancipation from normative social bonds formed within “white” society (cf. Angel 21) can find avenues of both imaginative (22) and  160  actual (21) escape with the help of racialized strangers. Offering these images and constructions of the city to their English audiences, these narrators provide them with new imaginative materials for the production of their own relationships to local place. Assuming that their audiences share with them extensive mutual world-knowledge and a sympathy of aesthetic/sentimental perspective, Wilson’s narrators assert that the images they offer and stories they tell about experiences of self, society, and place (in Vancouver) will be relevant to them. And introducing them to the unknown little city in the West, where the perceptions and experiences they tell about take place, the narrators offer their audience a sense of their own distance from the frontier-like elsewhere whence these images and stories come—a sense of otherness to be incorporated into their own locality. Timothy Taylor’s novel Stanley Park is the final city-building narrative, and indeed the final text, I will discuss in this chapter. In some respects it brings me full circle from Lowry’s “The Bravest Boat,” since like this story it introduces its audience to a Vancouver that it builds carefully for them, slowly expanding their knowledge of the city outwards from a Lost Lagoon location where the narrative begins. Like Lowry’s story too, Stanley Park constructs a vivid Vancouver, a densely-built modern city so rich in moral and aesthetic contrasts that it verges on becoming an allegorical space polarized between park and city. Taylor does not explicitly declare his story’s Vancouver a fictional space, as Lowry did by naming it Enochvilleport—indeed, Taylor’s “Author’s Note,” which announces that “One strand of [his] novel is based in fact,” expressly links the Vancouver named and described in the novel to the existing city. But Stanley Park, like “The Bravest Boat,” fictionalizes the city in the process of introducing it to its  161  audience. That is, even while the novel, like the story, refers very extensively and attentively to the specific geographies of the real city, it also lifts its Vancouver off the real map, allegorizing the places referred to, layering their mundane surfaces with luscious textures, and inventing new spaces within it. Taylor’s narrator, unlike Lowry’s, seems to recognize the bystanding presence of a local audience. Vancouver has grown, since Lowry and Wilson were writing, and Taylor and certain other contemporary, locally-based writers frame their city with (what seems to me) a luxuriant assurance that an in-the-know local audience exists to appreciate the implicit resonances of their setting-work. Perhaps, indeed, this assurance is the mirror twin of their greater confidence in the city’s national and international cultural salience.96 Two passages from the first chapter of Stanley Park show the narrator addressing what I discern to be a wide audience in a style that integrates an address to knowing locals. Like the narrators of Ethel Wilson’s stories, this narrator mixes references high on the familiarity scale with references assuming no familiarity; like Wilson’s narrators, too, this narrator often treats parts of Vancouver as inferable, even if the audience generally implied by his audience design is not likely able to identify those places in fact. The novel opens like this, shuttling its audience straight into the midst of an unfolding storyline, as novels often do (Giltrow “Ironies” 217): They arranged to meet at Lost Lagoon. It was an in-between place, the city on one side, Stanley Park on the other. […] Now the Professor was late. Jeremy Papier found a bench up the hill from the lagoon and opened a section of newsp