Once & Future

Charlotte Ashley – Book seller, collector, writer, editor, historian

March 10, 2010

Canada Reads 2010: Day Three

So Generation X gets the boot.  I wish this were more of a surprise, but it isn’t, for anyone.  Moving on.

I have been watching the debates online in video-form for the last two days and I have to comment on this experience.  Last year I listened to every broadcast faithfully at 11:30am sharp and never caught a glimpse of our panelists even once, and this was a WILDLY different experience.  I liked all these people more before I could see them.  Why is that?  The silence on the radio was serene; now watching reactions and exasperated body language is painful.  Poor Rolly, he seems like a very nice boy!  And Simi – what is with those sweaters?  On the other hand, how cool is Michel Vezina?  I want that man’s shirts!  And the wink he gave Jian yesterday when he added Fire-Breather to his resume – those two would make just the cutest dang couple, I sure hope they’re knocking boots on the side.

Another thing – who is the 6th person in their introductory montage of authors – is that Lazer Lederhendler?  I don’t remember anyone making as big a fuss about Sheila Fischman last year.

If it seems like I’m avoiding the debates, it’s for good reason: the questions Jian lobbed today were insipid.  They destroyed MINUTES of perfectly good air time with that awful “How Canadian” question again this year.  Kudos for Simi for trying to wriggle out of it.  It’s a preposterous question, as should have been evident from the minute Michel asked for Francophone content.  As if a staunch French-Canadian and a 2nd Generation Indian from Surry are going to have the slightest agreement about what’s “Canadian”.

The poverty question was an interesting one, though trying to find class divisions in Nikolski seemed like a stretch to me.  But the wording still drove me crazy: which book evoked class issues best?  What if that wasn’t the point of the novel?  It seemed like a raft designed to buoy Good to a Fault, which was the only book which was really about class.

Speaking of which, I didn’t really like Good to a Fault but I find Rolly’s continual arcane criticisms of it baffling.  There’s a lot to critisize in that book, but “too general” or “not enough detail” or “bad grammar” weren’t among my complaints.  Can we talk about preachy morality yet?

After sitting and watching 21 minutes of Canada Reads debate, my 20-month-old feels she deserves a read-through of The Monster at the end of this Book now, and I’m inclined to indulge her.  I look forward to seeing what the rest of you thought!  My predictions?  Good to a Fault or Nikolski are in trouble.  I wish I could say Fall was on its way out, but it seems to be getting too much love.  We’ll see tomorrow!

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