Woodcock--author of an Orwell biography, The Crystal Spirit, and historian of anarchism--founded the Vancouver-based magazine Canadian Literature in 1959 and served as its editor for the next 18 years. His overview of Canadian writing past and present is, understandably then, informed and comprehensive; whether discussing the nco-decadence of a John Glassco or the pre-boom Toronto settings of early Morley Callaghan, Woodcock has almost a stock-clerk's feel for what fits where. But placement is far better communicated in these pieces than is flavor. Americans unfamiliar with writers such as Roderick Haig-Brown, A. M. Klein, and Ethel Wilson will have their interests piqued but left frustrated by Woodcock's unwillingness or inability to really capture the peculiarities of the writers he admires. Mediocre poets are overwritten-up, enemies are scourged (Marshall McLuhan, for instance, which is a little like shooting fish in a barrel); and, despite Woodcock's protest against the charge of provincialism, his cozy vagueness seems to level it back upon his subject all the more pertinently. Satisfactory for those in the know, disappointing otherwise.