Harrison, Keith 1945-

views updated

HARRISON, Keith 1945-


Born June 18, 1945, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; son of John Robert (a teacher, journalist, and industrial relations manager) and Margaret (a teacher; maiden name, Reid) Harrison; married, 1965; children: two. Ethnicity: "Scots-English." Education: University of British Columbia, B.A., 1967; University of California, Berkeley, M.A., 1968; McGill University, Ph.D., 1972. Hobbies and other interests: Travel, cross-country skiing, basketball, tennis.


Home—Hornby Island, British Columbia, Canada. Office—Department of English, Malaspina University College, 900 Fifth St., Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada V9R 5S5. Agent—Ursula Vaira, Box 416, Lantzville, British Columbia V0R 2H0, Canada. E-mail—[email protected].


Dawson College, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, instructor, 1971-91; Malaspina University College, Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada, instructor in creative writing and English, 1991—.


Modern Language Association, Writers Union of Canada.


Okanagan Short Story Award; McConnell graduate fellowship; MalaspinaUniversity-College grants, 1996 and 2001; BC 2000 Book Award, 2000, for Furry Creek; Qspell Award nomination for Eyemouth.


Dead Ends: A Novel, Quadrant (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1981.

After Six Days, Goose Lane Editions (Fredericton, Canada), 1985.

Eyemouth, Goose Lane Editions (Fredericton, Canada), 1990.

Crossing the Gulf: Stories, Oolichan Books (Lanceville, British Columbia, Canada), 1998.

Furry Creek, Oolichan Books (Lanceville, British Columbia, Canada), 1999.

(Editor) Islands West: Stories from the Coast, Oolichan Books (Lantzville, British Columbia, Canada), 2001.

Contributor of scholarly articles to periodicals, including Canadian Literature, Journal of Canadian Studies, Canadian Review of Comparative Literature, and Annales du Monde Anglo.


A novel set on the Gulf Islands of British Columbia.


Keith Harrison is a writer and scholar based on the west coast of Canada. His body of work includes short stories, novels, and literary criticism. He has become known for experimental writing that utilizes a wide variety of themes and styles. His first book, Dead Ends, is "a novel wrapped around another novel," to quote Douglas Hill in Books in Canada. The work's central character, Jessica Trudel, is struggling to write a thriller set in Vancouver while she deals with the problems in her own life. Hill observed that "Harrison maintains a level of insight and tension … that's constantly high, demanding, rewarding."

After Six Days uses interior monologue to introduce two married couples struggling with the specter of infidelity. One of the wives becomes suspicious of the other, when in fact the errant husband is having an affair with a stranger. In Books in Canada, Douglas Malcolm praised Harrison's "artful rendering" of his characters' thoughts as "at once entertaining and entirely convincing." Eyemouth is a historical novel done in epistolary form. Its characters are Scottish workers who weather tragedy and hardship in a small fishing village not far from Edinburgh. Books in Canada contributor Gordon Phinn found the novel "a diverting, heartwarming study of peasants pummelled by 'fate.'"

Harrison's Furry Creek is built around an actual event: the 1975 murder of Canadian poet Patricia Lowther, whose corpse was discovered in the creek on Canada's Thanksgiving Day. The novel is a pastiche of fact, fiction, and rumination by people both living and fictitious, all centered upon the deceased poet and her life. "To package this book as a novel seems somewhat misleading," observed J. M. Bridgeman in January Magazine. "Furry Creek is more like a file. A case file. A vertical or clippings file. Label: Pat Lowther. With bits and pieces stuffed in, all connected, however tenuously, to the poet's body, or to her name. She is the hook, anchoring the line of poems, stories and ephemera." Some reviewers concluded that Furry Creek is less about Pat Lowther than about the writing process and Harrison's own central concerns as an author. In the Canadian Book Review Annual, M. Wayne Cunningham concluded that the work is "a scrapbook-like collection that mixes fiction and nonfiction but does not manage to fuse the two into a unified whole." According to John Lennox in Canadian Literature, the "generic hybridity is intended … to create a sense of the intricacy of human relations and the impossibility of truly knowing another person." Furry Creek won the BC 2000 Book Award in British Columbia, Canada.

Harrison is also the editor of the short-story collection Islands West: Stories from the Coast, thirty stories that portray life in Canada's western provinces. In her Globe and Mail review, Moira Dann concluded: "If you like well-wrought stories, you will find plenty here to savour."



Toye, William, editor, The Concise Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2001.


BC Bookworld, autumn, 1998, Alan Twigg, review of Crossing the Gulf: Stories, p. 16; spring, 2002, Alan Twigg, review of Islands West: Stories from the Coast, p. 18.

Books in Canada, May, 1982, Douglas Hill, "Experi-mental Fiction," pp. 28-29; March, 1986, Douglas Malcolm, review of After Six Days, p. 20; January, 1991, Gordon Phinn, review of Eyemouth, p. 48.

Canadian Book Review Annual, 1999, David E. Kemp, review of Crossing the Gulf, p. 195; 2000, M. Wayne Cunningham, review of Furry Creek, p. 147.

Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), January 5, 2002, Moira Dann, "Bicoastal Briefs," p. D12.

Malahat Review, 2002, Jay Ruzesky, review of Islands West, pp. 118-119.

McGill News, fall, 1998, Patrick McDonagh, review of Crossing the Gulf, p. 32.

Monday Magazine, May 7-13, 1998, Brandie Weikle, review of Crossing the Gulf.

Nanaimo Daily News (Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada), April 16, 1998, David Wiwchar, review of Crossing the Gulf.

Navigator, March 17, 1998, Joelene Heathcote, review of Crossing the Gulf.

Vancouver Sun, January 8, 2000, Chris Lowther and Beth Lowther, "Remembering a Vancouver Poet: Rewriting a Life," pp. E5-E6.

Victoria Times Colonist, March 22, 1998, Anne Moon, review of Crossing the Gulf; January 6, 2002, Vivian Moreau, review of Islands West, p. D8.


Canadian Literature,http://www.canlit.ca/reviews/ (April 14, 2003), John Lennox, "Lives about Poets."

January Magazine,http://www.januarymagazine.com/ (April 19, 2000), J. M. Bridgeman, "Living on Rorschach."*

About this article

Harrison, Keith 1945-

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article