Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Canada Reads 2008- A Geek's Mission, Part 4

I apologize to those who feel this mission is becoming tiresome. It's still a long ways off of course, but in keeping my name tied to Canada Reads 2008, I need to post a few of these mission statements from time to time.

Incidentally, if you Google "Canada Reads 2008" (leave on the quotation marks), you'll find that for the time being I am somewhat associating myself with the show. You'll also notice that I've been putting some small details about my quest in free classifieds around the country. If it gets me even a small bit of attention, it might help serve my purpose. At the very least, if I don't make it on the program, I'm sure there will be few people out there who remember me and wonder what happened.

On another hopeful note, IqaluitOnline has expressed an interest in doing an article on my Canada Reads aspirations. I'm hoping that if it pulls through, I'll get the local support.

A common question that has come up regarding my mission is what book would I defend. I don't have an answer to that yet, though if I did I'd probably keep it to myself for the time being- I wouldn't want to ruin the surprise. I'll admit though, there would be a lot of pressure. The second I'd choose a book, some of those that supported me would be upset. It's impossible to pick a book that everyone would like and since I've sort of milked the whole "average Canadian" angle, I'd have a lot of expectations to meet.

I've considered poetry and short stories. I know they haven't fared too well in the past and plenty of people would think I've just thrown my chance away. However, should I go that route, I'd try a slightly different approach. Instead of defending an entire book of short stories or poems, I'd just do one. I can't find anything in the rules that says it needs to be an entire book. I'm sure publishers wouldn't like it at first, but then they could just slap on a sticker that reads "Contains the short story 'The Loons' as defended on Canada Reads" or something to that effect. My logic is that the frequent complaints about both of these genres is that it there isn't a connection, a consistent flow, that can be compared to the development in novels. It's not an invalid point. This year for instance, Gabrielle Roy's Children of My Heart lost out even though most panelists seemed to agree that the last story in that book was great. I wonder what would have happened had Denise Bombardier decided only to bring that last story to the debates, instead of an entire book of short stories.

I've also thought about bringing new genres to the table. Children's lit, plays, and flash fiction have all come to mind. At least one other person seems to think it's time for such books to be represented. Still, I have similar reservations as with poetry; they're not likely to win. Past panelists haven't seemed all that open to any genre outside the novel. But then I'd just have to decide whether the exposure was worth it or not, and is it more important than the win? And besides, who knows, if I can talk my way onto the show in the first place, anything's possible.

I've also thought about perceived political choices. If I were to defend a book from Newfoundland or Nunavut, would it be seen as obvious, as a bias or even propaganda? I don't think I'd care all that much. But I also wouldn't want anyone from those areas to be disappointed if I didn't bring along such books. There might be some people out there with that expectation.

And in the end, I could end up just defending a simple novel. Would it be my responsibility to push a different genre? To represent a certain people? I think I'd just pick what feels right at the time.

But I also wonder what a loss would mean. Really, should I make it on the show, my chances of winning at that point would still be no better than 1/5 (skill of debating aside). So if I lost, would anyone (especially the producers of the show) feel that the whole non-celebrity experiment was a bust? Would it quickly close the door for the non-famous future Canada Reads hopefuls? I hope not. I hope, even if I don't make it on the air, they consider the idea, maybe even reserve a nonfamous chair for all future episodes.

But for now, I've still got a lot of work to do to make it on the show myself. If you've been supporting me at all (writing to the CBC, blog posts, spreading the word) I appreciate the help. If you haven't been, what's it going to take to convince you?!


Barbara Bruederlin said...

Firstly, congratulations on snagging the interest of Iqaluit Online. Your name really is becoming synonymous with Canada Reads on the internetz. (And it's good to know that Iqaluit is getting Nunavut's first mammography machine!)

I think, as you alluded, you have a better chance of winning with a novel rather than poetry or short stories, but utlimately you'd have to decide what feels right for you, which is difficult with all those lobbyists out there.

Fearless said...

Well, you may not make it all the way, but someone has to be first to push the boundaries. You may well inspire someone who will make it on and win in the future. Also, have you thought about reading a Graphic Novel?? That could be fun because you could make all the superheroes punching noises and such. POW! BLAM! KER-PLAMMO!

John Mutford said...

Barbara, Glad to hear that Iqaluit's mammography machine has your support.

Yeah, if any lobbyist ever approaches me about Canada Reads, I'll know I'm close to securing a spot. As of yet though, it's pretty quiet.

Fearless, I've almost totally neglected that genre. Not out of snobbery, I honestly just don't think of them. I wouldn't rule it out though. Graphic novel on the radio. That could be funny.

I've also wondered if songs or even just their lyrics would count as fiction.

Allison said...

I like to see these posts. The effort you place thinking about all the variables is proof enough that you should have at least a shot, but I'm not the one deciding, however you continue to have my support.

I would really like to see other genres explored. Something different to shake everyone up a bit, is needed I think. Although I'd love it, I can see poetry being a very devisive issue. Interesting note on song lyrics...