John Metcalf's Shut Up He Explained defies expectations and strict definition. Part memoir, part travelogue, part criticism -- wholly Metcalf -- it is thoughtful, engaged, contentious and often very funny. It offers a full does of Metcalfian wisdom and wit, and provides ample evidence that neither age nor indifference nor attack have withered him: he remains as sharp, critical, constructive and insightful as ever. Indeed, this may just be his most important and engaged book. Certainly it will be among his most controversial. What his critics will refuse to see, of course, is that it is also among his most positive, that it is a celebration of the best literature Canada has to offer, the birth of which Metcalf himself both witnesses and actively encouraged. Shut Up He Explained is magisterial, a virtuoso performance melding several seemingly different strands into one coherent narrative, which should delight and entertain as it serves to argue, elucidate and celebrate.