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Fiction Short Stories (single Author)

This Time, That Place

Selected Stories

by (author) Clark Blaise

foreword by Margaret Atwood

Initial publish date
Oct 2022
Short Stories (single author), Literary
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2022
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“Blaise is probably the greatest living Canadian writer most Canadians have never heard of.” —Quill & Quire

“If you want to understand something about what life was like in the restless, peripatetic, striving, anxiety-ridden, shimmer cultural soup of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries," writes Margaret Atwood, "read the stories of Clark Blaise." This Time, That Place draws together twenty-four stories that span the entirety of Blaise's career, including one never previously published. Moving swiftly across place and time, through and between languages—from Florida's Confederate swamps, to working-class Pittsburgh, to Montreal and abroad—they demonstrate Blaise's profound mastery of the short story and reveal the range of his lifelong preoccupation with identity as fallacy, fable, and dream.

This Time, That Place: Selected Stories confirms Clark Blaise as one of the best and most enduring masters of the form—on either side of our shared borders.

About the authors

Clark Blaise has taught in Montreal, Toronto, Saskatchewan and British Columbia, as well as at Skidmore College, Columbia University, Iowa, NYU, Sarah Lawrence and Emory. For several years he directed the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. Among the most widely travelled of authors, he has taught or lectured in Japan, India, Singapore, Australia, Finland, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Holland, Germany, Haiti and Mexico. He lived for years in San Francisco, teaching at the University of California, Berkeley. He is married to the novelist Bharati Mukherjee and currently divides his time between San Francisco and Southampton, Long Island. In 2002, he was elected president of the Society for the Study of the Short Story. In 2003, he was given an award for exceptional achievement by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and in 2009, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada ``for his contributions to Canadian letters as an author, essayist, teacher, and founder of the post-graduate program in creative writing at Concordia University``.

Clark Blaise's profile page

Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa and grew up in northern Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master's degree from Radcliffe College.
Throughout her writing career, Margaret Atwood has received numerous awards and honourary degrees. She is the author of more than fifty volumes of poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and non-fiction and is perhaps best known for her novels, which include The Edible Woman (1970), The Handmaid's Tale (1983), The Robber Bride (1994), Alias Grace (1996), and The Blind Assassin, which won the prestigious Booker Prize in 2000. Atwood's dystopic novel, Oryx and Crake, was published in 2003. The Tent (mini-fictions) and Moral Disorder (short stories) both appeared in 2006. Her most recent volume of poetry, The Door, was published in 2007. Her non-fiction book, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth, part of the Massey Lecture series, appeared in 2008, and her most recent novel, The Year of the Flood, in the autumn of 2009. Ms. Atwood's work has been published in more than forty languages, including Farsi, Japanese, Turkish, Finnish, Korean, Icelandic and Estonian. In 2004 she co-invented the Long Pen TM.
Margaret Atwood currently lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson. 

Margaret Atwood's profile page

Excerpt: This Time, That Place: Selected Stories (by (author) Clark Blaise; foreword by Margaret Atwood)

From Margaret Atwood's Foreword to This Time, That Place

When you’ve been dragged around as a child as much as Clark had, you become adept at camouflage. Think of him as a cuttlefish: when in a clump of seaweed, look like seaweed. He could “do” someone from almost any background. And of course, in order to blend into a background, you need to observe that background closely: its textures, its smells, its symbols, its furniture. Perhaps the richness and accuracy of detail and the attention to the nuances of dialogue for which Blaise has been so justly praised has come in part from these early experiences. To avoid being prey, how do you hide in plain sight?

For a fiction writer, such a talent can be both an asset and a liability. If you don’t have just one single “identity,” you aren’t confined to it: your range is cosmopolitan. But when you have so many possible identities at your command, where is the centre? Are you a trickster figure, wandering the margins like Odin in disguise, always observing but never fully rooted? Is your “identity” the fact that you aren’t definable by your membership in a single group? Are you a shape-shifter like werewolves and gods? Are you a conglomerate, like Walt Whitman, who announced, “I contain multitudes?” Was he a part of all that he had met, like Tennyson’s Ulysses, or was all that he had met a part of him, as is the case with all-devouring dragons? Where was the boundary line between self and surround? Were roots a good thing to have, or did they render you parochial and xenophobic? What is “belonging,” and why exactly would you want it? If you ‘belong,” do the demands of others exceed anything you may expect to gain from them in return? What do “national boundaries” mean, anyway? In asking such questions, Clark was well ahead of his times. This clutch of themes was to preoccupy him in his fiction, appearing in many variations and through many personae over the next fifty-odd years.


Did Clark know he would become one of the preeminent story writers of his generation? Probably he did not. But probably he intended to bust himself trying. We were nothing if not dedicated.

“What was that writing thing I was doing, then? Why was it so important?” another writer—an octogenarian—said to me recently. It’s a good question, especially now; in the midst of so many crises—environmental, political, social—why write? Isn’t it a useless thing to be doing? Maybe, but so maybe is everything else. We know what we know about the Great Mortality of the fourteenth century because some people wrote things down. They bore witness.

Let’s suppose that this is what Clark Blaise has been doing.

So, future readers—or even present-day readers—if you want to understand something about what life was like in the restless, peripatetic, striving, anxiety-ridden, simmering cultural soup of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, read the stories of Clark Blaise. He’s the recording angel and the accuser, rolled into one. He’s the eye at the keyhole. He’s the ear at the door.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for This Time, That Place

“[Blaise] paints a restless, uneasy portrait of society at the turn of the 21st century.”—New York Times

"More people should read Blaise ... Contemporary life is full of irreconcilable tensions. This Time, That Place captures a handful of them, simultaneously telling stories of three countries and a multitude of identities that cut across various social, culture, political and economic dimensions."—Globe and Mail

"If the topic is longing, loneliness or the search for love in an untethered world, no one writes with more wisdom or more beautifully."—Alexander MacLeod, for the Globe and Mail

This Time, That Place is not only a stunning collection of fiction, it is one of considerable importance; most readers will not recognize how much they have been lacking in their reading lives until they experience the work of Clark Blaise first-hand."—Toronto Star

"The adolescent yo-yo takes many forms in This Time, That Place (Biblioasis), which recalls an old cigar box filled with undated and often cryptic postcards. [...] Individually or as a group, these loosely linked stories will reward multiple readings."—Literary Review of Canada

"This Time, That Place demonstrates why Blaise is one of Canada's greatest short story writers."—CBC Books

"Blaise is ... almost preternaturally adept at noticing things ... sublime technique and linguistic finesse [are] showcased in these inestimable short works."Quill & Quire, starred review

"The publication of This Time, That Place is a cause for celebration. Not only does This Time, That Place prove Blaise to be a master of the craft, it also holds a mirror up to the reader. It may answer the question 'Who is Clark Blaise?' but it raises the bigger, more important questions of 'Who am I?' and 'Where am I now?'"—PRISM International

"With the publication of This Time, That Place confirms, author Clark Blaise is clearly documented as being one of the best and most enduring masters of the short story literary form."—Midwest Book Review

“[Blaise’s] readers don’t feel as though they’re merely a fly on the wall: They’re sitting in the back of a stolen car in the middle of the night, inheriting a new identity as they watch a past life fade in the rearview.”—The McGill Tribune

"Clark Blaise might be North America’s Great Unclaimed Writer ... These stories, like their author, embody and enact a continental sense and sensibility."—The Bulwark

"This Time, That Place does a good job of establishing Blaise not only as one of the major voices in Canadian fiction in the last half-century, but as a deeply entertaining writer to boot. It’s one best enjoyed slowly, giving each of these stories time to settle and let them linger on.”—Live in Limbo

"These stories cover ground not only geographically. They are also crowded with character and incident, always fiercely and smartly observed ... Blaise has gathered here a smart, sprawling collection of stories about family, rootlessness, and identity."—Kirkus Reviews

"Blaise's stories are shapely and full of keenly observed details that bring their often unglamorous settings to life. For those unfamiliar with his work, This Time, That Place will come as an especially pleasant discovery."—Shelf Awareness

"This selection contains a life’s work from one of the most important short story writers to ever live in North America. No artist before Blaise, and nobody since, has moved through the continent with so much sensitivity, compassion, and intelligence. Most at home when they are lost, Blaise’s characters search hardest for belonging when the conditions are least hospitable. For fifty peripatetic years, his beautifully crafted stories have shown us a way though. In our desperation, whenever we ask: 'Where am I now?' Clark Blaise provides the honest answer we need: 'Right here.'"—Alexander MacLeod, author of Animal Person

"A dazzling gallery of portraits of North American lives rendered in Blaise's emotionally evocative style."—Joyce Carol Oates

Praise for Clark Blaise

“Blaise is probably the greatest living Canadian writer most Canadians have never heard of.” Quill & Quire

“On the leading edge of world literature.” —John Barber, Globe and Mail

“What holds the collection together is Blaise’s mastery of the short story, his ability to give us a whole personality and the sensuous particularity of lived experiences in a handful of pages.” —Steven Hayward, Globe and Mail

“Blaise meticulously conveys a sense of connection and isolation in the lives of Indian immigrants who are detached from their former lives and country, ‘untethered to any earth,’ and yet are shape and guided by that absence … Such connection is beautifully contrasted by the way the opening stories fracture a single family’s narrative into multiple perspectives, illustrating the divide that separates people from one another and rendering it more tangible than any geographical border. In the end, The Meagre Tarmac is like a slow exclamation caught halfway between a sigh and laughter, between hope and despair, connection and dissonance.”—Canadian Literature

“You know it’s going to be a stellar year for fiction when Clark Blaise publishes something. The Meagre Tarmac … demonstrates yet again that Blaise is one of the continent’s master authors.” —Uptown

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