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The Coincidence Problem - Selected Dispatches 1999-2022

The Coincidence Problem

Selected Dispatches 1999-2022

By Stephen Osborne
Categories: Cultural Studies, Canada, Social Issues
Paperback : 9781551529653, 320 pages, 2024
Expected to ship: 2024-10-29
Expected to ship: 2024-10-29


From the heart of the city to the edges of the Arctic: a brilliant and observant essay collection by a modern flaneur

In 1990 writer Stephen Osborne and his partner, Mary Schendlinger, began publishing Geist, a literary quarterly based in Vancouver, Canada. From the beginning, the magazine established a reputation for observant photography, thoughtful essays, and off-the-wall humour, not least because of Osborne's regular contributions. The Coincidence Problem brings together Osborne's dispatches covering a wide range of subjects, from civic monuments to family history to global terrorism, end times in the Arctic, and the lynching of Indigenous youth Louie Sam. A modern flaneur, he investigates the city, translates the ordinary, and deflates the pretentious. The Coincidence Problem confirms Osborne's reputation as an incisive writer of narrative non-fiction that is at once personal and expansive.


Stephen Osborne's remarkable dispatches carefully track how the world does and doesn't work. They are wide ranging, addressing the ordinary but genuinely mysterious "coincidences" of the book's title. Readers will not only be convinced someone is paying attention, but might decide that almost everyone should do likewise. -Stan Persky, author of Reading the 21st Century and Post-Communist Stories

Stephen Osborne's piquant essays take nothing for granted, even when he writes about his own neighbourhood. He exposes the optimistic brutalities of how we impose ourselves on what used to be called the New World and finds yesterday's tragicomic dreams of the future imperfectly embedded in the present. These personal yet far-ranging pieces are deeply felt, often funny, and beautifully written. -Robert Everett-Green, author of In a Wide Country

To read this collection is to share in the author's delight with the language of life, the details of the everyday. Every essay is absorbing and surprising, composed of smaller stories strung together like mismatched beads, each with its own particular allure. The result is a dazzling reminder that there is much in the world to be fascinated by, if only one would look a little closer, a little longer. -Lynn Coady, Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning author of Hellgoing

Rigorous and rewarding. Osborne is a maestro of the sentence. His chronicles interrogate the local with quiet tenderness and uncomplicated wonder.
-Anakana Schofield, author of Bina: A Novel in Warnings and Martin John

Stephen Osborne demonstrates that, for an intelligent observer, nothing is uninteresting. With grace, wit, discernment, and seductive charm, Osborne shares with his readers a magical vision of our ever-astonishing world.
-Alberto Manguel, author of A History of Reading

Osborne is one of this country's most captivating voices ... He sees through pretense, notices the things we all notice but rarely articulate, and does so with a gentle, bemused humour. Quirky and memorable. -Evelyn Lau, author of Cactus Gardens