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Monday, December 03, 2012

Reader's Diary #908- Stephen Leacock: The New Food


It's December and as many of my long time readers can attest, I'm a bit heavy on the Christmas this time of year. And while this year won't be any exception, I want to acknowledge that I know not everyone celebrates this holiday. However, I want to still encourage people to participate in Short Story Monday, Christmas stories or not. Lately I've been pretty much on my own. At the end of each Short Story Monday post, I can almost hear my voice echoing when I call out for links to other Short Story Monday reviews to no avail. I know people want to read more short stories. I bet some of you will even make it a reading New Year's resolution (that, cutting back on challenges, and reading more classics seem to be the most common). No pressure, but if you have a few minutes on the weekends, you want a break from your current book, why not unwind with a short story? There are plenty available online for free. And just like when you give a mouse a cookie, if you read a short story, you'll probably want to blog about it...

On that note, I can't seem to find a lot of Canadian Christmas stories online. When I went searching this weekend, I found that I wasn't alone in my quest. I happened upon this post, written last year, from Susanne Marshall at The Canadian Encyclopedia Blog. We're not on an identical search— she was looking for the quintessential Canadian Christmas story, I'm looking for online Canadian Christmas stories— but as she seems to have settled on David Adams Richard's short story "Small Gifts," adapted from his screenplay of the same name, I'm still in the dark. Unfortunately, it's not available online as far as I can find. (Mr. Richards, if you happen upon this, please consider sending me a copy to post online. Consider it a... ahem... small gift, if you will.) Without having read that one, I'd probably go with Stuart McLean's "Polly Anderson's Christmas Party," but I couldn't find that online either. I know a lot of you are partial to "Dave Cooks the Christmas Turkey," but the only one I could find free online (for listening) is "Christmas at the Turlington's". Another story mentioned in Marshall's post is Stephen Leacock's "The New Food," which I was not familiar with, but fortunately was able to track down an online copy.

Yeah, it's not really a contender for The Canadian Christmas Story. It's amusing and very short, but there's not a lot of substance there. In a nut shell it's about a futuristic scenario in which we can get all our nutrients and calories from pills that have replaced individual meals. What happens when a baby overdoses on Christmas dinner pills? It's messy. Let's just leave it at that. It's not poorly written. As a satirical piece of flash fiction, it's interesting to note how the same fears and bewilderment over scientific discoveries— will they advance us or will we discover a hidden cost?— existed in Leacock's time as in ours. But it's not particularly Christmasy. True, the pills in this story replace turkey, cranberry sauce, mince pie and the like, but it could just as easily be the baked potato and steak of a summer barbecue.

Anyway, I'm curious as to your favourite Christmas stories. Are you a Stuart McLean fan? Would you go with Richards? Leacock? Let me know and I'll see what I can track down online.

Others you might want to check out:
Lucy Maud Montgomery- "Aunt Cyrilla's Christmas Basket"
Stephen Leacock-  "Hoodoo McFiggin's Christmas"
Joan Sennette's "Amanda's Special Gift"
Charles de Lint and MaryAnn Harris "A Crow Girls Christmas"

(Did you write a post for Short Story Monday? If so, please leave a link in the comments below.)

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