November 24, 2010
4 Thoughts About Canada Reads 2011
I made it down to the Canada Reads launch after all, though I took off pretty quickly after the ceremony was over. Sorry I couldn’t stay to schmooze – I’m a working girl! Pop over to the Canada Reads site to see the books and panelists. Meanwhile, my initial thoughts:
Good Old Canada Reads
The CBC’s continued (and slightly ridiculous) hyperbole aside, this is not a list of the five “most essential” books of the decade. That list would see McKay, Fallis, Abdou & Lemire replaced with Hill, Boyden, Martel and Gibson. But thank goodness for that. This list, much more a product of grassroots advocacy and adventurous panelists, is more interesting than a list of “essentials” ever could have been. I get to read four books I’ve never read (I read – and loved – Essex County just recently) and three newbie novelists (and one very hard-working graphic novelist) get a kick at the Professional, Full-Time Novelist can. This list looks like any Canada Reads list from the last 10 years.
Laraque & Abdou – Yikes!
I’ll tell you straight, at the launch these two looked unbeatable. Both excellent speakers, making excellent points in Bone Cage‘s favour. What could beat them? Well, the book might not actually be any good. But then, I realized, to whom would that matter? For the first time, I don’t see any seriously “intellectual” faces on this Canada Reads panel. I suspect every last one of the five panelists is going to play a tactical or emotional game. Too bad for serious criticism, but I’m sure we’ll see some entertaining debate instead.
Anne Giardini – Oh Dear.
Any enthusiasm I might have had about reading Unless – which was mixed to begin with, as I loved Republic of Love but hated Stone Diaries – was nearly killed by Anne Giardini’s limp and bland “endorsement”. I spent her five minutes rolling my eyes at her “quintessentially Canadian” this and “emotional tour de force” that. Carol Sheilds wouldn’t have been so obsequious. Yuck.
Probably the biggest news of all is that the final episode of Canada Reads will be taped live this year in front of an audience. This is, I’m sure, a wise reaction to some concerns raised last year at Book Camp T.O. and elsewhere that in the world of social media, taping the debates ahead of time and announcing the results on the radio long after cartons of the Canada Reads winner have been shipped to big box bookstores was bound to result, ultimately, in leaks. I love the idea that this year, we’ll all know the winner at the same time.
On to the reading! I’ve put my orders through for my copies of the four books I lack. All that remains is to get them and to read them! Oh, and to continue to wait anxiously for Kerry Clare’s equally-anticipated (by me, anyway) announcement about her Canada Reads Independently 2011 panelists and books! Having heard a mere spoiler of what Kerry has in store for us, I feel I have reason to believe there will be several VERY interesting books chosen for this list too! As with last year, I’ll be reading both sets this year – that’s the kind of masochist I can be. Hope you’ll join me!