A Casualty of Genre
The War Short Stories of Will R. Bird
Despite the fact that Canadian writers generated a considerable number of short stories both during and after the First World War, the majority of Canadian war literature scholars have chosen the novel as their sole point of departure and examination. As a result, such novel-only examinations have tended to limit critical discussion to dialectical categories. Building on Marie Louise Pratt’s notion of the short story as a “fragment or excerpt of a life,” as well as the genre’s displacement of time in favour of other narratological considerations, this essay examines representative war short stories from the corpus of Will R. Bird in order to illustrate how he effectively portrayed psychological realism as well as aesthetic therapeutics for the thousands of veteran readers who not only identified with the situations he described, but also with the emotional and psychological turmoil each one of his soldier protagonists exhibits.