Haven’t watched Day 3 of Canada Reads yet? You can watch it online here.
Here there be spoilers.
I have finally put my finger on what it is about Jody Mitic that doesn’t sit right with me. I feel like in these debates, we see his politician coming through. And I just really inherently dislike people who act like politicians.
Once upon a time, when I started this work on the 2017 Canada Reads contestants, I had a pipe dream that I would one day be a panelist. I mean, how cool would that be? But after watching the debates, I don’t feel like I could handle it. In this episode, we see Ali Hassan trying to keep things focused on the book instead of the person defending. I don’t do well when I feel attacked. Yay for social anxiety.
Change My Mind
I think what everyone is trying to say about Company Town is not that it is a soap opera-ish book, but that it is a melodrama. Which I agree with. It is very melodramatic. It focuses more on the things that are happening rather than who they are happening to. But that is also pretty typical of science fiction in general. Also, “soap opera” isn’t a misogynistic term in and of itself. The term was coined at a time when the world at large was a misogynistic place, and women were the cleaners in the home etc.
However, what Measha says about the romance double standard is very true. I take it back to one of the writing “tests” for feminine representation. A woman who has a romantic interest is definitely OK. It is when a woman exists in a story only as a romantic interest, or if her world views are changed drastically by the romance that it becomes a feminist issue. And that is one place where I feel like Company Town fell short for me. Everyone wants to write these “tough” woman characters who don’t need no man, but when they find the “right” man, they give in and all is well with the world. This is how it always ends up, and this is where I struggle to enjoy romance in books.
I find it really interesting that Jody voted based on winning and trying to eliminate his biggest competition.
Intent of the Authors
If there is one thing that the book community will agree on, it is that the intent of the author doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is how the readers receive it.
“Is it more effective for a story to challenge the reader’s world view, or reflect it?”
I agree with Candy in that it really depends on the book. I also agree with Chantal that the most effective authors do both.
When Andre Alexis talks about people being more concerned about violence against dogs than they are about violence against humans, it does make me stop and think a minute. I don’t think it is universally true, and I don’t think it is actually true either. I think the biggest thing facing our society today is that it is safer to be outraged when an animal is hurt than it is when another human is involved. A human lying in the street may be an attack waiting to happen, it may be someone trying to take advantage of our caring nature. A hurt animal is a being with power and choice and thought harming something essentially defenseless. A hurt animal is what it is, and yes, a hurt dog may bite because he is hurt… but he won’t pretend to be hurt just to bite you.
My problems with Fifteen Dogs are not based on the violence against the animals. Why did the dogs only get the “bad” parts of humanity? Where is their compassion and their empathy? Are those not part of the human condition? Where is their desire to learn and to better themselves? Combine that with the fact that it is a very misogynistic book, and I really hope it doesn’t win.
We are swept into a conversation about violence in storytelling. I think I can write an entire post about this, so I am not going to go into too much detail here, but my opinion is that violence can be a very effective tool in storytelling, save that it has to be used appropriately. I don’t feel it was used appropriately in Company Town or in Fifteen Dogs. Again, I still don’t know the extent of violence in The Right to be Cold, but I feel it would be different anyways, as it is a nonfiction account.
Measha says she has some issues with violence, and yet I can’t see how she would be supporting Company Town with those issues. She says that Madeline Ashby uses violence to make people care… but in a book dedicated to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, women who are sex workers are brutally murdered… We don’t need more mirrors to the current issues, we need fiction that shows us that change is possible.
“Can a story include you in an experience that you are excluded from in life?”
My first instinct was to answer no. And I think that I am going to stick with it as far as “not really”. Because I feel like a story can try to bring you face to face with an issue or experience, but they can’t make you feel it.
To use a personal example – I, as a white person, am never going to know what racism feels like. So a story that is trying to “include” me in that experience is going to fail. But, it may educate me on what other people go through so I can show more empathy, and be a better ally.
Mean Tweets – Canada Reads Edition
I really loved this section, and I don’t have aything to add.
Wrap up and Vote
Measha voted for The Right to be Cold
Jody voted for The Right to be Cold
Chantal voted for Company Town
Candy voted for Company Town, because she feels it isn’t what all Canadians need.
Humble voted for The Right to be Cold, because he wanted to light a fire, instead of filling a mind with information.
And The Right to be Cold is eliminated. I think a few things worked against it here… one being that Chantal was excluded from a lot of the discussion being that she wasn’t actually in studio. And two is that it was a nonfiction book going against fiction books.
Once again, I am skipping on the Q&A tonight. I would really like to get Day 4’s post up more quickly following the broadcast.
My final thought is that both remaining books have a lot of problems with them, but I feel like if Fifteen Dogs wins, I will be really upset. It is misogynistic to its core, and for all Humble wants to tote it as being a signpost of the human condition, it only highlights the “bad” parts. And after The Break, the book I really wanted to win, was eliminated because of “lack of positive male representation”, if a book that so clearly lacks good female representation is chosen… I think that says more about the state of the nation than anything else.
Again, Company Town is far from perfect, and it is not a book I would recommend willy-nilly. But at least we have some nuggets of good and non-problematic content in it.
How do you feel about the results of Day 3?
Stay bookish, lovelies.