Thursday, February 8, 2018

The CanLit dumpster fire: a most uncivil war


I have a few things to say here. And I'm sorry if I called Joseph Boyden a bad name (but not really), and sorry I blew a raspberry at Jonathan Kay. But not really.

I try to stay out of this fracas, because I'm not really IN it, except that I care. I care that people's feelings and life's work are being stepped on by writers who are considered "la creme de la creme" by everyone, especially the media. Why? Because they sell copies,that's why, enough copies to make the literary Who's Who that the media never stop yammering about. Anybody who's anybody is in it. Everyone else is jealous, see? That's why they make such a fuss over things. Besides, the literati are the only ones who can write anyway.

Such was, and is, the tweeting and twatting in the nasty little world of Canadian literature, which has become the realm of bad feeling and poison darts.

And I mention that the big publishers are American. Well, they ARE, so the big publishers better get over it. You're not Canadian, you don't reflect anything but moving copies and winning Gillers, but the small presses, struggling along, barely able to make it, are. Every ten years or so a "marginalized" writer from a "small independent press" is tossed a Giller nomination, and the signatories of the UBC Accountable open letter say something like, "See? We're all equal here. You're almost as worthy to sit at the same table as we are." It's considered by the press to be a minor miracle, and such lucky writers are asked, "How in God's name did you manage to do that?"

Just to explain, the bad name I called Joseph Boyden doesn't reflect my usual language, but it DOES reflect the language of people who lack cultural sensitivity. And how about people who pretend to be something they're not, winning literary prizes galore in the process? Becoming famous for something you actually aren't. Does the name Grey Owl mean anything to you? How about Iron Eyes Cody? 

(From Wikipedia) Iron Eyes Cody (born Espera Oscar de Corti April 3, 1904 – January 4, 1999) was an Italian-American actor. He portrayed Native Americans in Hollywood films. He also played a Native American shedding a tear about litter in one of the country's most well-known television public service announcements, "Keep America Beautiful". In 1996, Cody's half-sister said that he was of Italian ancestry, but he denied it.

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