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As Others See Us, The Toronto Star, December 14, 1991

EDITH IGLAUER, a journalist from Cleveland, Ohio, who became a regular writer for The New Yorker, first gained attention in this country with her 1969 profile of Pierre Trudeau, published in that magazine. It remained the best piece of writing on Trudeau until Richard Gwynn's 1980 biography, The Northern Magus. Her last book, Fishing With John, a chronicle of her life with a British Columbia fisherman who died suddenly in 1978, four and a half years after their marriage, was also a notable success. She has written books, as well, about the Canadian Arctic (Inuit Journey) and B.C. architect Arthur Erickson (Seven Stones).

Her latest book, The Strangers Next Door, is a collection of journalism ranging from articles she wrote in New York City in the 1940s on the singer Marian Anderson or the construction of the U.N. building, to more recent explorations of life in the Canadian Arctic and British Columbia.

The book takes its title from an article on Canada that she wrote for The Atlantic Monthly in 1973, just before she moved permanently to British Columbia. The article is serious, well-researched - she explains to her American readers, among other things, the intricacies of the auto pact between Canada and the U.S. . . It also conveys unambiguous good will towards this country. She chides her audience for its indifference to its northern neighbour, pointing out that "even those Americans who use Canada as a vacation land are remarkably ignorant of the Canadian personality." She presents Canadian goals, in that heyday of English Canadian nationalism, as eminently reasonable: "With increasing emotion, Canadians are coming to think that they have a country whose special qualities are worth defending."

. . . the piece served as a useful summary, for American readers, of Canadian attitudes. On the whole, one prefers Iglauer to the much more scintillating Mordecai Richler - who would rather be amusing than just to his subject - as an interpreter of Canada in the American press. She cannot be blamed, either, for failing to foresee the era of free trade and government retrenchment a decade or so in the future. No one else did.

. . . Her virtue as a reporter - and it is not a negligible one - is thoroughness. She interviews her subjects for hours. In the Trudeau piece, she not only obtained extensive interviews with the Prime Minister, but she had the wit to seek out his old Jesuit mentor, Father Robert Bernier, and to interview him at length, as well. His recollections say a great deal, not always directly, about Trudeau's intellectual background, and are chiefly responsible for giving the article its depth.

She also has the journalist's eye for the piquant detail. In her Erickson profile, she quotes at length the man who supervised the competition for the design of Simon Fraser University, which Erickson won. She includes his off-hand comment about another competitor, a luckless architect whose wife went to the hairdresser on her way to deliver his drawings, and so missed the deadline.

Iglauer's essays add up to an honorable body of work, solidly crafted and scrupulously researched. . . a model to any aspiring journalist.
-Philip Marchand, Toronto Star


A Troubled Nation Turns Its Eyes To - Literature by Dave Wesley, The Hamilton Spectator, December 28, 1991

The Strangers Next Door, by Edith Iglauer (Harbour Publishing): Though she now lives and writes in Garden Bay, B.C., Edith Iglauer basically sees Canada through American eyes. Now in her 70s, she was born in Cleveland, graduated from the Columbia School of Journalism in 1939, and for years wrote in the U.S. for such publications as The New Yorker, where her then-husband Philip Hamburger was a prominent critic.

She was at the centre of the Manhattan social scene, but as America changed and she changed, she 'found' Canada. She wrote a number of essays and articles about Canada - our north and Inuit, THE definitive profile of Pierre Trudeau, our political and social systems - for major U.S. publications, and eventually came here to live, and remarry, this time to a west coast fisherman.

She still writes and speaks out -- now in anger at Brian Mulroney and what his Tories have done to a country she chose.

'There was a time,' she said recently in Toronto, 'when I thought the U.S. should look to Canada for a model - its medicare sytem, how to live peacefully - but now I see fewer differences.

'When I look around I feel despair at what's happened here - government by the priviledged few for themselves. Brian Mulroney and his friends have simply stuck their hands in the till to grab what they can before they leave the scraps of what was once Canada for the new American companies to clean up.'

Of most interest in this collection, though, are Iglauer's pieces from the early 1970s telling Americans what Canada is like -- they make for sad, nostalgic reading.

Only 20 years ago Canada had a broadcasting system that 'looked and felt' different from that of the U.S. There was less violence here, less emphasis on making big money, more on caring for each other.

On a popular level, 311 of the 323 players in the NHL were Canadians, all CFL teams were Canadian-owned, Canada Post delivered mail, Ryerson Press was still Canadian.

In areas where we haven't become more American, we haven't progressed much. In 1973 the only two Canadian authors to break the domination of Americans on the best-selling fiction top ten list were -- Margaret Atwood and Robertson Davies.

The good part about reading these essays and realizing how American we've become in 20 years, is remembering we weren't always this way, and if we wish, can still choose not to be.

-Dave Wesley, The Hamilton Spectator