We start the show with yesterday’s vote, which went as follows:
AW: The Outlander
JSL: The Outlander
AL: The Outlander
Once again, NC gives mad props to JSL for being a stellar advocate, and she admits she didn’t think she would get this far.
Next, Jian the two last advocates are given a chance to make a last pitch for their books and it was a delight to hear the competitions two most eloquent contenders go head to head. JSL hits all her major points thus far, but adding that Francis has a genius for dialogue, and that nobody writes contemporary Canada like Brian Francis. Avi Lewis also uses his old arguments, and busts out some alliteration calling BofN “a truly titanic task,”as well as “searingly emotional.”
Jian then goes back to the old question of small scale versus large scale, asking if Fruit has the same universal resonance and appeal. SS weighs in with her traditional anti-Fruit stance, calling it myopic and “not welcoming enough,” but JSL argues for the genius required to achieve so much on a small canvas. AW also rises to the defense of Fruit‘s universality, saying “you don’t have to be a 13-year-old to feel insecure in your body.” Avi supports JSL’s argument, but takes it a step further, saying that working on a epic, universal story and reducing it to something manageable is also an impressive feat.
Jian raises the question about whether BofN‘s “hollywood ending” limits its efficacy, but AW denies it, saying that you don’t learn less of a lesson, or end up less affected by it. I see her point, unless “hollywood ending” also implies implausibility. In which case, it can, as JSL says “jolt you out of a fictional world” and undermine the book as a whole. AL does make an excllent point though, saying that huge massacres and wars DO defy human imagination, and should seem surreal. When I read Orbinski’s An Imperfect Offering or even as I watched the re-creation of Passchendaele in Gross’ epic, I DID wonder how anyone could have survived it.
Jian then brings up the Peter Paddington vs. Goliath scenario (this seems a bit like one of Peter’s Bedtime Movies – except Peter might be Brooke Shields, and Goliath would be wearing a red speedo). Once again this debate is somewhat flat, since people just answer accordingly for their book.
In the end, AL argues that after BofN we end up “enriched and enlightened about slavery and humanity.” AL is really maximizing what his book has to offer – namely knowledge (learning, whatever), alongside the knowledge of human nature that reading should provide. So in this case (forgive my oversimplification), if both books tell us about humanity, it becomes a battle of 1980s Sarnia vs. the slave trade, which unless they’re going to have a dance off, could be a hard fight to win.
And so it was, with the final vote demonstrating that Canadians don’t like an underdog THAT much:
AL says he is humbled by his victory, and claims it was an unfair fight (due to the reason I just mentioned), but that is the nature of the beast. CR isn’t explicitly the hist-fic showdown (though given the amount of hist-fic we produce, it could be).
JSL is “pleased as hell” and gives a major shout out to her author, Brian Francis. She’s no fool, and knew taking on BofN would be a major undertaking, but she says she is just pleased managed to take Fruit this far. That’s certainly no small feat, and I would give JSL the award for best champion.
Disagree with the results? Don’t forget you can still vote in the Viewer’s Choice poll, and award Miss Congeniality to someone else.
And the final post-confessional (exclusively with the last two panelists standing):
- AL seems surprised yet again that her vote had an impact
- JSL reveals her very clever voting strategy (voting for whatever people seemed most likely to vote against), crediting it to her mother, because “she’s a very sneaky lady”
- JSL expresses some fears about burning bridges in the tiny Canadian literary community
The whole event finishes off with Avi asking “Can we start again?”And at the risk of sounding sappy, I concur, and I already can’t wait for next year. Big kudos to the CBC for doing a great job, and I will say the online content (and its management) is a standard most organizations should strive for. Also, many thanks to all the people who have stopped by the KIRBC to join in the CR fun – especially Kerry, Charlotte Ashley, and Melanie, whose insightful comments I always looked forward to. Congrats to Melanie as well for running the Canada Reads Challenge over at Roughin’ It in the Books, which hopefully will become a yearly tradition!
The CBC’s also continuing their online coverage with an Online Book Club, which will have live chats in addition to the forum discussion. It will also have “featured” readers, which just seems to be a CBC-sponsored facebook profile for a reader, but we are vain creatures. I think the whole CBC Book Club is just to allow people who are only going to read the winner to have access to some of the discussion and resources that were available during the competition. But a note to all bandwagon jumpers: be sure to read the rest too! (Read them all already? Why not take on previous winners? Or even more ambitiously, previous nominees?) This has been my first year really participating in CR (being a relatively new convert to talk radio), and I can say that every book I read and discussion I read, listened to and participated in was enjoyable, enlightening, and made me proud of Canada”s formidable writers and readers.
Previous CR Winners (of which I’ve only read the last three):
In the Skin of a Lion, by Michael Ondaatje
Next Episode, by Hubert Aquin
The Last Crossing, by Guy Vanderhaeghe
Rockbound, by Frank Parker Day
A Complicated Kindness, by Miriam Toews
Lullabies for Little Criminals, by Heather O’Neill
King Leary, by Paul Quarrington