Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Canada Reads 2007- Day Two

Where to begin. I guess with an apology (of sorts) to Steven Page and Jim Cuddy. I said that Page's performance yesterday was passive aggressive. Upon reading other comments that yesterday was somehow gentle or cordial, I questioned my sensitivities. I (as I've already written) didn't feel that way at all. I'm reminded of a comment made by Denise Bombardier today. In response to Donna Morrissey's attack on Roy's book, Bombardier stated "I don't recognize the book when you're talking." That's fair. As Morrissey pointed out yesterday, the readers bring their own personalities and values to the book and likewise, draw their own conclusions. I guess I made my own impressions about yesterday's debate. Anyway, today's another day and I thought Steven Page was much more subdued, yet more honest and direct. I suspect that when he got back to his hotel room last night, he reflected long and hard about improving his performance.

Jim Cuddy. I've been pretty mean spirited where Cuddy is concerned. However, I will say this: he seems very passionate about his book. I have to respect that he isn't trying to sneak it through. Lying low often works, and I can't say I wouldn't try it, but Cuddy's flag waving for Stanley Park is pretty convincing. If I hadn't read it, I think I'd be persuaded to read it based on the strength of his convictions. I'd be disappointed mind you, but that's another issue. I do wish he (and others) could be a little more open minded to short stories (and poetry and...).

So Page and Cuddy polished up their act. How about the others? Today started off very polite. Every insult was delivered a la Mary Poppins, i.e., with a spoonful of sugar. "You're book was beautiful but...". Fortunately, the teeth came out before long.

I know people will be critical of the spat between Morrissey and Bombardier. It did get childish and petty, I admit. When a book debate gets reduced to "you don't know nothing about me" people need to step back a little. Yet, given the choice between being choked with butterflies or strangled with boas, I'd pick the snakes. Quicker, and far more natural.

Morrissey, who I quoted from above, isn't the most graceful is she? I'm not just talking about under pressure either (Bombardier deserved much of what she got). What I mean is, she doesn't come across as all that great with words. Did she really mean "paternalistic" when referring to Children of My Heart? She talked about how she felt like she was on a sugar high while reading it and quoted overwrought descriptors of the children. To me, that is more reflective of maternalism. A funnier example; earlier in the program she used the word "arousion" when she surely meant "arousal". But my favourite example; "I read 587 books. I could have chose 800 of those." It makes me all the more curious to read one of her books. On the one hand, she has a great taste in literature. Her books are usually well received by the critics and she was even asked to be a judge for the Governor General award. On the other hand, she sounds just about as smart as George W. when she speaks.

Tomorrow's outcome will be interesting. Morrissey and Samson seemed to have formed an alliance since yesterday's show, and Steven Page also made a comment about having lots of issues with Stanley Park. Jim Cuddy and Denise Bombardier seem like they're out to get Lullabies. If Morrissey didn't let her feelings about the episode with Bombardier cloud her judgement, I think Stanley Park will go tomorrow. Does anyone know how, since they're a day late with the first vote off, the show will wrap up? Will the panelists have to pick the winner out of three?


Barbara Bruederlin said...

I'm so glad you are doing the daily synopses. You are remembering things that I should never have forgotten, but have (things like "arousion").

This is how I think logistics of the voting will go:
Wednesday will open with the dropping of the first book, Thursday with the dropping of the second, Friday will open with the dropping of the third book, a brief discussion, and then another vote to drop the final book.

John Mutford said...

That's possible. But if they choose a winner at the end of Friday's show, we'll miss hearing the logic behind the final decision and the celebration of the winner.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Oh yes, you're right! Maybe Friday's show will be an hour long?

Allison said...

I can't really add much, as I'm not following this, but enjoying the daily synopses (and discussion) and hope to get a chance to read these books when school ends.

John Mutford said...

Allison, I'm glad you said books, not book. In my humble opinion, the best book rarely wins. Nor does the worst. When you have a diverse panel, and everyone is forced to come to a consensus, it's usually a mediocre outcome. The process almost demands it. With such varied personalities any book which pleases all is probably just a compromise. The same could be said for top 40 music, I guess. If it makes the majority slightly happy, it's not making any one group REALLY happy. Maybe that's a bad analogy, but you get my drift.