Canada Reads – Day 2

March 29, 2017     The Bluestocking Bookworm     Books, Books I've Read, Reading

Did you miss Day 2 of the debates? Watch it online here!

As with yesterday’s post, there will be spoilers here.

Candy Palmater is now a free agent. She no longer has a book to champion, but she still gets a vote. Very interesting. The plot thickens.

We hear from the authors themselves, today. It is interesting to hear their perspective, but I really feel like we are rehashing the same points now.

Jody claims that Nostalgia is a good read because it took 15 years to write, and that even though it was written before the time of social media, it is indicative of a future spent relying on social media for identification. I really disagree here, because I don’t feel like social media plays any role in Nostalgia. I have read books where it is more integrated and ingrained, and Nostalgia is not one of them.

Chantal is asked what makes The Right to be Cold a great read. Her biggest remark is on accessability to all ages because it isn’t violent or explicit. I can’t really comment on The Right to be Cold itself, because I am still working on it, but it was a recurring theme I had this year with reading the books nominated this year. Of the four books I read, there are a lot of triggers and a lot of problematic content.

Humble’s thirty seconds are spent extolling the virtues of Fifteen Dogs as helping us understand the root of the issue – humanity – instead of just the issue itself. I really buy what he is saying, but not in the sense of Fifteen Dogs. It is like on Day one, when he asked if The Right to be Cold was the book he would pick to champion the climate change issue. I don’t think Fifteen Dogs is an accurate portrayal of the human condition. For one thing, it focuses SO much on the negative, and in today’s world, we need some positivity. Also, the book is very misogynistic, and to say that the book is a reflection of humanity and the trouble we face because of it, you need something more balanced.

Finally we come to Company Town. Measha is very supportive of Madeline Ashby as a new and original voice in Canadian science fiction, and her ability to bring younger readers in. I think of the remaining books, Company Town is the most likely to bring younger readers to the table.

Canada Reads Day 2 proper starts in true Canadian fashion. With apologies. With everyone still feeling a little sore, all of our panelists are taking some time to apologize for misspoken words and any hurt caused.

When Ali Hassan asks Candy about the inclusivity of the remaining books, she quickly throws her support to The Right to be Cold. Surprisingly, so does Jody Mitic. This is where Chantal extends the first apology. And it all gets very warm and fuzzy for a bit. Which is nice.

Measha makes such a great point about representation when reading “for sport”. That is where the representation matters. When reading for education and to learn, it is a little easier to put aside the need to see yourself in a book. I definitely agree here.

Humble is so on point when he talks about diversity, not only as a “superficial thing” but diversity of life choices and thought. He throws his support to Company Town for showing diversity not only in race, but in economic standing and in career choice.

“How can the remaining books on the table help us learn from the past?”

Candy has a good point when she says that with this specific question, you can’t learn much from the past in a fiction book. This is really what I felt as soon as Ali asked.

Jody has a hard time articulating the point of Nostalgia again. This is kind of painful to watch, because I got something completely different from the book.

Chantal talks about repeating the past and the necessity to act now against climate change.

Measha speaks up again about memoir vs these alternate fictions in the other books.

Humble says “the show has to start” and he says that this isn’t about the issue, but about the way the issue is communicated. He champions for accessibility for all, being a former elementary school teacher. He also touches on his stance (again) that the human condition is the basis for all of these issues.

Candy is very quick to point out some problems with Humble’s words. On the topic of Fifteen Dogs, she says once more that it is misogynistic. The second point she makes seems to make everyone uncomfortable, but I very much understand why she said it and support her for saying it. Humble said “our First Nations people” and Candy is quick to remind him that the First Nations people of Canada are not owned by Canadians. Other panelists seem to be taken aback by her reaction, but I am sitting here cheering her on. I love that she took the opportunity to educate not only the other panelists, but everyone watching.

Chantal and I agree that Fifteen Dogs is not accessible for children. The language is crass, and it is not something I would promote for “everyone”.

Humble rebuffs, and there is a lot to digest there. The biggest thing I latched on to was his cries of censorship and comfort zones and needing to step outside to grow… But it isn’t censorship if the book is too mature for a specific audience. And it isn’t censorship if the book is harmful to a specific audience. Censorship is a word that gets thrown around so much that it has lost its efficacy.

“Humble argued that Fifteen Dogs lets us know ourselves. So which book is least effective at accomplishing this?”

Jody and I agree again (wait, what?) and he says that Fifteen Dogs is very hard to see the human connection with these baser dogs.

Humble makes a good point in that he didn’t read the book thinking about how dogs “should” act, and that might be the downfall of Fifteen Dogs… the preconceived notion that dogs should act a certain way, even with human intelligence. He also touches on the female strength issue, which Measha is quick to defend.

Measha makes a very interesting comparison. She notes that both Hwa in Company Town, and the other women who are portrayed, sell their bodies, albeit for different reasons. Then Ali asks her the question again, and she calls The Right to be Cold a “sleeping pill in book form”. She also magnanimously says that all of the books have shortcomings.

Candy says that Nostalgia was very male-dominated, and that she was affected by the author’s words at an event, which opened a can of worms via Jody.

Jody “supposes” that if you don’t like the author, it could affect your reading of a book. But remember, this isn’t a personal event, and this isn’t a personal thing… says the man boy who voted off The Break because he felt attacked as a white male. He does a very good job of belittling Candy Palmater’s feelings, and I am fuming. He then goes on to talk about the rich/poor division in Nostalgia, which isn’t as big a deal as the old/young division. Oy vey.

Chantal is very poised today when she says that even though Fifteen Dogs is one-dimensional, it did touch something in her. She says that the story in Nostalgia is too personal, and that the story in Company Town is too cinematic, and they didn’t make her feel like she was in them.

Measha talks about how Company Town was dedicated to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women… but I feel like this helped highlight the problematic aspects of this book. There are a lot of great parts to the book, but why not write an empowering book to be dedicated to MMIW? Why write about sex workers being brutalized? That is what happens already! We don’t need more of the same, we need to see change in our fiction!

The Wrap-up and the Vote

Poor Candy has been a little attacked today. I feel for her, as an emotional person, and I very much see where she is coming from.

Humble has some poignant words. “I don’t want this to turn into a hierarchy of suffering”
Which is so applicable to life.

The vote comes out as follows:
Measha votes for The Right to be Cold, because of readability
Jody votes for Fifteen Dogs
Chantal votes for Nostalgia, because she felt the defense of it lacked something today
Candy votes for Nostalgia
Humble votes for Company Town, because of its “soap opera” quality

And so, Nostalgia falls. And Jody gets another chance to make an idiot of himself.

I didn’t watch the Q&A from Day 2, because I am watching it at midnight and I need to sleep.

What are your thoughts on the result of Canada Reads Day 2? And what about the remaining books?

Talk bookish to me!