Thursday, March 01, 2007

Canada Reads 2007- Day Four

So much for predictions. While I correctly guessed that it wouldn't win, I thought that Lullabies would go first. However, in this case, I'm glad to have been mistaken.

What a great Canada Reads again today. I have to say, it's no wonder these are the master debaters. Everyone did a superb job today. Even Jim Cuddy, whose book I could hardly stand, is doing a bang-up job. He's almost convinced me that I should give it another shot. Thankfully, the other panelists are reminding me why I disliked it so much originally. It is a mess. Yes, Taylor should get recognized for his ambition. Yes, there are lots of themes. But it doesn't, as Morrissey pointed out, come together. Themes, and even storylines, are simply dropped at the end. Jim Cuddy seems to think the father-son relationship is the at the core of the novel, but just as he seems critical that O'Neill left too much up to the reader's imagination (the timeframe from which it is being told, the ramifications of Baby's ordeals, and so on), the same could (more easily) be said about Stanley Park. To say that the father-son story is at the core, is simply assumption. The publishers printed comments on the back suggesting that it was a satire. They went on to imply it's a murder mystery. In Taylor's interview on Words At Large, he seemed to think it was a love story. Now Cuddy claims it's a father and son story. The problem is, no one knows. It's a jumbled mess.

Throw into the equation the soundbite from Taylor that said a major theme throughout the book is the local-international dichotomy. I noticed that, and thought it had potential to be the saving grace of the book. As John K. Samson pointed out today (I thought Cuddy would have pushed this argument long ago), it doesn't just relate to food. It applies to other works of art as well, whether it be literature, music, or something else. Unfortunately, Taylor's delivery falls short. It is a novel about ideas (which novel isn't?), but who can't write a list of ideas?

For Kahunsha and Lullabies, I don't know what to expect. I'd love it to come down to those two- they were my favourites from the lot. But, I'd hate to see the Samson/Morrissey alliance crumble. They could have been king and queen of the prom. But it may come down to strategic voting tomorrow. Stanley Park is getting hit pretty hard now, but maybe that'll be what keeps in: easy competition. I'm glad Morrissey didn't try to argue that Kahunsha was hopeful. I suspected its bleakness would rub people the wrong way, but trying to argue it otherwise would have been disingenuous.

What happens tomorrow? I have no idea. But I think it's a safe bet that a pretty good book will win, and in case I haven't made myself clear, Stanley Park is not a pretty good book.


John Mutford said...

I just remembered. Jim Cuddy said today that everything in Stanley Park was plausible. Is he completely forgetting about the bizarre aura bit with Dante and Toby? Either that, or Cuddy lives in another universe altogether.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I caught that masturbatory pun and thought it was entirely childish, which is why I enjoyed it so much.

You could be right; there could have been some strategic voting happening off mic today, but somehow I think that most people are too ernest and will be voting with their emotions.

I thought you made some excellent points on the Canada Reads forum today and I was just responding to them when I was interupted and I had to pretend I was working. It's probably a good thing that Canada Reads ends tomorrow.

John Mutford said...

A lot of integrity seemed to leave yesterday when Natasha went first. Everyone ('cept Cuddy) went on and on about disliking Stanley Park yet Natasha went first, its biggest fault being short stories. It still seems strategic to me.

John Mutford said...

Whenever I blog about an author, I usually end up refering to them by last name only. So why is it when I write about "Cuddy", it feels like I'm using it disrespectfully?