With the passing of its editor, Raymond J. Smith, Ontario Review itself will cease publication with the forthcoming Spring 2008 issue. Smith began Ontario Review in 1974 in Windsor, Ontario, with his wife Joyce Carol Oates as associate editor; the Review later moved with its editors to Princeton, NJ.
Smith wrote about the impetus for Ontario Review:
I was simply intrigued by the idea of a little magazine. Not a glossy magazine—never—but a little magazine. (Not too little: the original Kenyon Review, say. Remember those gorgeous covers?) I was fascinated from about the age of eighteen onward by the notion, the abstract, almost Platonic notion, of a physical thing that was at the same time a communal phenomenon. That is, one picks up a magazine, weighs it in the hand, it appears to be a thing, but in fact it isn’t a thing at all. It’s a symposium. A gathering. A party. —“On Editing The Ontario Review”
Reviewing the literary magazine for Library Journal in 1976, Bill Katz commented, “the style is as relaxed as it is meaningful, and the review is not burdened with dense scholarly prose whose primary appeal is to the expert. No, this is [for] the average intelligent reader who seeks a professional, honest approach to the arts … and for once there is a solid balance between ‘names’ and lesser known figures of equally high standards.” Katz returned his attention to Ontario Review on its 15-year anniversary, noting, “Little wonder this is one of our best reviews.”
Little wonder Ontario Review, like its editor, will be sorely missed.
p.s. — A partial listing of contributors to Ontario Review, from its web site:
Alice Adams, Jane Anderson, Margaret Atwood, Russell Banks, Donald Barthelme, Saul Bellow, Pinckney Benedict, Earle Birney, Joseph Brodsky, Hayden Carruth, Raymond Carver, Annie Dillard, Rita Dove, Margaret Drabble, Stuart Dybek, Carlos Fuentes, Tess Gallagher, Albert Goldbarth, Nadine Gordimer, Eaman Grennan, Donald Hall, William Heyen, Ted Hughes, Josephine Jacobsen, Jill Krementz, Maxine Kumin, Irving Layton, Doris Lessing, Alistair MacLeod, W. S. Merwin, Mary Morris, Barry Moser, Gloria Naylor, Joyce Carol Oates, Alicia Ostriker, Jay Parini, Stanley Plumly, Reynolds Price, Ned Rorem, Philip Roth, Dave Smith, Gary Soto, Elizabeth Spencer, William Stafford, Mark Strand, Deborah Tannen, Melanie Rae Thon, Chase Twichell, John Updike, David Wagoner, Robert Penn Warren, Tom Wayman, Theodore Weiss, C. K. Williams, and Charles Wright