Warren, Dianne 1950-

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WARREN, Dianne 1950-


Female. Born 1950.


Agent—c/o Author Mail, Publishers Group West, 1700 Fourth St., Berkeley, CA 94710.


Author and playwright. Regina Public Library, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, writer-in-residence, 1994-95.


Western Magazine award for fiction, 1992, for "Safe House"; three book awards, including Book of the Year, City of Regina, for Bad Luck Dog.


The Wednesday Flower Man (stories), Coteau Books (Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada), 1987.

Serpent in the Night Sky (produced in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada), Playwrights Canada Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1992.

Bad Luck Dog (stories), Coteau Books (Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada), 1993.

Club Chernobyl (produced in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada), Coteau Books (Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada), 1994.

(Editor, with Jacquie Johnston Lewis) Eureka!: Seven One-Act Plays for Secondary Schools, Coteau Books (Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada), 1994.

The Last Journey of Captain Harte (play), Nuage Editions (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada), 1999.

A Reckless Moon: And Other Stories, Publishers Group West (Berkeley, CA), 2002.


Canadian playwright and short fiction writer Dianne Warren participated in a panel discussion, along with three other female writers from the Regina, Saskatchewan area, which was moderated by Penny Farfan for Canadian Theatre Review. The writers were asked if they are feminists and to what extent this informs their work. Warren responded by saying that "for me, part of being a feminist writer is feeling strong enough to trust my own voice and intuition while I'm in the process of writing. In terms of subject matter, I guess the simplest thing to say is that my main characters are strong women, no matter what happens to them."

In reviewing Warren's first story collection, The Wednesday Flower Man, in Canadian Literature, C. Kanaganayakam commented that in these stories, Warren "begins with a verifiable context, with characters whose conflicts are familiar, who speak a language that is representational, and then moves into a world where logic no longer seems to apply." In "Weak Hearts," a man becomes angry with his wife when she comes to a wedding reception in a revealing, red dress, while the adolescent protagonist of "Sunday Rodeos" mentally derides the wife of the cowboy she loves. Kanaganayakam named as the most experimental of the stories "The Winter Road," "The Wednesday Flower Man," "Dead Rabbits," and "Miracle Nightly." Books in Canada reviewer D. French wrote that Warren's stories "are feminist in the most basic (and most advanced) sense: the diversity of the female experience is greater than the range of differences between men and women."

Warren's plays include Serpent in the Night Sky, a look at life in northern Saskatchewan. The characters include Duff and Joy, teenagers who plan to marry, and Duff's older sister, Stella, and her abusive husband, Gator. Books in Canada contributor Ann Jansen wrote that Warren "serves up her characters without sympathy, through dialogue that is biting and to the point."

The married couple interfere with the plans of the teens, and Gator attempts to draw Duff into illegal schemes, but eventually the young couple are married by Preacher, a madman who watches the sky for an apocalyptic serpent to eat the moon. Other characters include Marlene, the survivalist mother of Duff and Stella.

Canadian Literature's Hildegard Kuester called Serpent in the Night Sky "an entertaining dramatization of rural Western Canada, portraying its backwardness and a way of life that has little to offer for comfort, not even in family life."

In reviewing the award-winning collection Bad Luck Dog, Books in Canada's Daniel Jones wrote that Warren "is clearly one of a new generation of short-story writers who have learned their craft in the wake of such contemporary luminaries as Raymond Carver, Ann Beattie, and Bobbie Ann Mason. Her prose is lucid and precise. Nothing is hidden, but neither is anything given away."

The stories of Bad Luck Dog are about people trying to get by in dead-end jobs, living in dangerous situations, and plagued by misfortune. They include "Safe House," winner of a 1992 Western Magazine award; the collection as a whole won the City of Regina book award. Quill & Quire's Lynne Van Luven called "Safe House" "a masterpiece of impending domestic violence—a story simultaneously unsettling and alluring." In "Leon's Horses," farm woman Ada obsessively keeps track of the activities of the neighbors next door: the wife who mourns the loss of her three drowned children, and the husband whose horses, barn, and corrals have been destroyed by a prairie fire. Van Luven called the tale "evocative, sad, haunting, and yet ultimately hopeful."

Warren's Club Chernobyl is a blend of realism and fantasy that begins with the grand opening of the theme club of the title, where the story's characters find refuge during a violent rainstorm. Owner Dallas and his wife, Billie, who are headed for separation, are spooked by their nightmares, and customer Veronica, a prostitute, is found, supposedly drowned, in the flooded basement of the club. A bass player creates all of the sound effects and reflects the moods of the characters as the play progresses. "Each character reveals his or her deepest fears, but each does not gain equal distance or relief from fear," noted Shannon Hengen in the Canadian Theatre Review.

With Jacquie Johnston Lewis, Warren edited Eureka!: Seven One-Act Plays for Secondary Schools. The selected plays are the work of young Saskatchewan writers, some with the assistance of teachers. Richard Paul Knowles reviewed the volume in the University of Toronto Quarterly, commenting that "the best of the student creations" is "Wheel of Justice," in which Christopher Columbus is put on trial. In "Switching Places," a sexually irresponsible teenage boy finds himself pregnant.

The middle-aged widow in Warren's play The Last Journey of Captain Harte is recovering from the death of one of her sons and caring for her down-and-out brother when she receives a call from Captain Harte, a friend of her late husband. The woman projects onto the captain an image of the worldly man who can take her away from her hard life on the prairie, but he himself has other reasons for courting the strong, independent woman. Sick with malaria, he would inflict her with one more person to care for. David E. Kemp wrote in Canadian Book Review Annual that "this cleverly constructed piece holds our attention throughout with its blend of humor and poignancy."

Warren's third collection, A Reckless Moon: And Other Stories, includes the title story about a woman who takes the wheel for a horse buyer who has lost his license for driving under the influence of alcohol. Although they say little as they proceed on their journey, when they are forced to stop during a storm, the two reveal themselves through retellings of their life stories. "Throughout these stories runs an appreciation for minutiae," wrote a Publishers Weekly reviewer in appraising A Reckless Moon, the reviewer adding that Warren's tales "are enhanced by the subtlety with which their secrets and surprises are revealed."



Books in Canada, January, 1988, D. French, review of The Wednesday Flower Man, pp. 26-27; February, 1993, Ann Jansen, review of Serpent in the Night Sky, p. 32; May, 1993, Daniel Jones, review of Bad Luck Dog, p. 46; November, 1995, Ann Jansen, review of Club Chernobyl, pp. 42-43.

Canadian Book Review (annual), 1995, David E. Kemp, review of Club Chernobyl, p. 240; 1999, David E. Kemp, review of The Last Journey of Captain Harte, p. 239.

Canadian Forum, October, 1993, Julie Mason, review of Bad Luck Dog, pp. 38-40.

Canadian Literature, autumn, 1990, C. Kanaganayakam, review of The Wednesday Flower Man, pp. 154-156; winter, 1995, Hildegard Kuester, review of Serpent in the Night Sky, pp. 169-170; summer, 1996, Mark Blagrave, review of Eureka!: Seven One-Act Plays for Secondary Schools, pp. 118-120; autumn, 1998, Stefan Haag, review of Club Chernobyl, pp. 153-155.

Canadian Materials, March, 1993, Pat Bolger, review of Serpent in the Night Sky, p. 62; September, 1994, Barbara J. Graham, review of Bad Luck Dog, p. 118.

Canadian Theatre Review, spring, 1996, Shannon Hengen, review of Club Chernobyl, pp. 61-63; summer, 1996, Penny Farfan, "Women Playwrights in Regina: A Panel Discussion with Kelley Jo Burke, Connie Gault, Rachael Van Fossen, and Dianne Warren," pp. 55-64.

Chatelaine, July, 2002, review of A Reckless Moon: And Other Stories, p. 18.

Publishers Weekly, September 23, 2002, review of A Reckless Moon, pp. 48-49.

Quill & Quire, May, 1993, Lynne Van Luven, review of Bad Luck Dog, p. 23.

University of Toronto Quarterly, winter, 1995, Richard Paul Knowles, review of Eureka!, pp. 103-104; winter, 2000, Cynthia Zimmerman, review of The Last Journey of Captain Harte, pp. 255-256.*

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