Archive for October, 2007

Canadian Literature: A tyranny of the old

Oct 22, 2007 in Books

Writer Stephen Marche wrote this essay in the Toronto Star yesterday talking about how CanLit effectively elbows younger writers out of the way

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. Case in point, the Giller shortlist, which this year, like every year is filled with grey hairs (Alissa York

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might be the exception here).

Kangaroo Jack dvdrip Marche compares Toronto’s literature scene (like “an old folks’ home”) to Brooklyn’s playground of youthful writers:

The major writers in Brooklyn are young, or if they’re not young they pretend to be (thus the spectacle of 50-year-olds in skeleton hoodies hunched over their MacBooks). A recent article in The American Scholar download Breathless movie download Half Baked movie dismissed the whole Brooklyn scene for its cult of youth, particularly its obsession with traumatized children: Oskar Schell in Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close recovering from his father’s death on Sept. 11; Alma Singer in Nicole Krauss’s The History of Love, whose father also has died; and, most famously and most originally, the orphaned brothers of Dave Eggers’s A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

with their rudimentary understanding of hygiene and nutrition. At one point in Heartbreaking Work, Eggers paints a picture of the Wolverine on his brother’s bedroom wall to comfort and protect him, which could serve as a metaphor for the entire Brooklyn writing ethos.

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I can hear the complaints now. What about the writers working in Montreal, or Halifax or Vancouver?  That’s a subject for another essay. They’re there but the economics of Canadian literature mean that the publishers, the agents and the powermakers are here, in Toronto. A lot of the problems that affect Toronto literature simply spill out into CanLit as a whole.

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Make no mistake, this dominance of Canadian literature by the old is a dangerous thing. “The danger is that the Giller, like the CBC, will become just another institution for boomer self-congratulation.” You know what that’ll mean as Boomers get older, retire and die off we’ll start seeing the slow, death of Canadian literature.

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And what about the young writers who should be right there, to continue a literary legacy that’s included one-time literary rebels Richler and Davies, Atwood and Ondaatje? Ignored fo so long, we just might find that they’ve all walked away from their Macbooks. Their stories left unwritten.

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BBC in trouble

Oct 17, 2007 in Media

Stories like this make me want to hyperventilate. It turns out the BBC is facing a really stark funding crisis.

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The Telegraph reports The Thirteenth Floor video that “2,000 employees — almost a tenth of the workforce — will be sacked in an attempt to find £2 billion in budget cuts. “

Let’s put this in context. The CBC’s annual budget is about $1.3-billion…. sooo the BBC is being asked to make budget cuts that are approximately 2.5 times the size of the CBC’s annual budget. Where’s my paper bag.

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Shine Worse, now employees are threatening to strike. And I don’t blame them.

Bruce Springsteen and a priest….

Oct 16, 2007 in Off-line

Are You Being Served? download The Hunger dvdrip The Thirteenth Floor hd No, it’s not a setup for a joke. It’s actually a National Post article. Father Raymond De Souza (our resident Man of God) reviews a Bruce Springsteen concert. Weird.

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Sex advice from Booksellers

Oct 16, 2007 in Books

I was a bookseller, fortunately no one asked me for sex advice. I’d be quite terrible at it. I did have to fend off one or two skeezy old men from hitting on the women that worked with me though. Poor women of Book City.

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, I have one SEXY bookshelf.

Links to start the week right

Oct 15, 2007 in On-line

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The bookish part of the blogosphere

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has been talking about this Guardian blog article on Canadian literature. It’s a bit reductionist and I understand that it’s for a non-Canadian audience, but I hope that poor British booksellers don’t get too many people asking for Miranda Toews.

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(not sure how it’ll stand up to heat and cold) and even go to a shipping-container-cafe.

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Writing about voices…

Oct 09, 2007 in On-line

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The Relief of Belsen dvd presley.jpgI have a lot of friends who are music critics (or wannabe music critics). One of the hardest things to do is describe people’s voices. Just what does Elliot Smith, or Lou Reed, or Elvis Presley sound like?

NPR, has this wonderful little ‘contest’ called Vocal Impressions. They ask their erudite audience members to describe certain iconic voices. The round that got me hooked had people describing Samuel L. Jackson and ‘Mama’ Cass Elliott.

It doesn’t seem to be updated yet but apparently according to NPR listeners Phyllis Diller

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sounds like ” The Vlasic Pickle’s Stork’s girlfriend.” Even better is Elvis Presley, who apparently sounds like ” My boyfriend’s engine revving in the driveway while I’m being told I can’t go out” or ” The sand in your bikini you don’t want to wash out.” That’s just plain hot.

Next month’s assignment include Johny Cash and Ethel Merman, I can’t wait.

A little blast from the past…

Oct 02, 2007 in Uncategorized

Not that far back. For some odd reason I’ve been listening to a lot of Sloan over the last few days. Man they were so young in this video.

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Fall books I'm looking forward to

Oct 01, 2007 in Books

I’ve already got my hands or got through a lot of the biggest books this fall (The Shock Doctrine 1408 , the Architects are Here) but there are a few others worth mentioning:

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by Stephen Marche:

I’m about two-thirds of the way through this one. I absolutely loved Marche’s first book Raymond and Hannah

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and I would’ve been happy enough if he followed it up with another book that explores love, betrayal, distance and separation. You can write dozens of books on these themes. Instead Marche went in another direction completely and created a faux-anthology of literature from the imaginary island of Sanjania. If you’ve ever studied post-colonial literature, the book is a real treat. Marche seems to really get how these themes and ideas are created and, oh yeah, the writing in the book is also pretty damned good.

A few reviews here and here.

tomine2.gifShortcomings by Adrian Tomine:

Tomine is my favourite graphic novelist and I’m excited about his appearance at this year’s IFOA and the release of his first full-length graphic novel Shortcomings. Tomine is one of the best out there at capturing the awkward, sometimes-painful, experience of being in love, being out of love and not finding love. He also draws the most hauntingly-beautiful women.

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An interview with Adrian Tomine in the current issue of Giant Robot (sorry, no online excerpt!) here, oh he’ll be at the IFOA this month!

As a consolation here’s an interview from Bookslut.

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by Douglas Coupland:

I have a love-hate relationship with Douglas Coupland, who I think is coasting off the success of his first book (really, his best book) and might actuallly be a better visual artist and designer than novelist. But the word on the street about his new book is that it’s actually very good. I’m willing to give him another chance.

Really, he’s a much better artist.

Help a buddy out…

Oct 01, 2007 in Media

My friend Mason Wright has been poking sticks at wasps nests. He wrote a post over on the This magazine blog pondering the popularity of right-wing blogs

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Most of the responses are very enlightening, constructive and informative. But of course there are also a few wingnuts thrown into the mix. This is, after all, the blogasphere. So if any of you smart, witty folks want to throw you two cents into the fracas that’d be much appreciated.