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These moments, they don’t vibrate, I take it?
April 17, 2007 7:50 PM   Subscribe

Good grief. First, tips on how to write, now this. Yann Martel, award-winning author of Life of Pi (previously), believes the Canada Council for the Arts is not getting a fair shake from the Canadian government. The solution? Send Prime Minister Harper a book to read. Every couple of weeks, mailed on a Monday. In case you were wondering, the first book on the list is Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilych (SparkNotes here). The Prime Minister’s office has not yet responded. Meanwhile, President Bush already has his own reading list.
posted by YamwotIam (25 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Does anyone else find it just perfect that in the final link, Jerry Lewis's sole book recommendation was The Fountainhead?
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 8:08 PM on April 17, 2007


Bush can't spell caterpillar. He therefore should not be president.
posted by ORthey at 8:09 PM on April 17, 2007


For as long as Stephen Harper is Prime Minister of Canada, I vow to send him every two weeks, mailed on a Monday, a book that has been known to expand stillness. That book will be inscribed and will be accompanied by a letter I will have written. I will faithfully report on every new book, every inscription, every letter, and any response I might get from the Prime Minister, on this website."

I'm sure that the oh-so-subtle dig at his literacy and intelligence will go over very well.
posted by jason's_planet at 8:19 PM on April 17, 2007


Considering Harper's silence on the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, I wouldn't expect much feedback on the biweekly book.

How is The Death of Ivan Ilych? The only Tolstoy I've read is Anna Karenina, which I found to be surprisingly easy-going, though I really loved the parts involving Levin's farm.
posted by myopicman at 8:27 PM on April 17, 2007


Wonder why Martel chose "Death of Ivan Ilych." Hardly CanCon. But, then again, CanCon usually sucks.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:28 PM on April 17, 2007


I had really hoped that the suggestion in the first link that Harper was writing a book on the history of hockey was a cruel joke. It's not.
posted by saraswati at 8:34 PM on April 17, 2007


CanCon usually sucks.

Looks like the 2007 Man Booker jury disagrees.
posted by YamwotIam at 8:37 PM on April 17, 2007


The problem with this prime minister is that he's read too much -- and felt too little.

He should be forced to lead the life of the 'ordinary' Canadians he extolls so often but has had little actual exposure to.
posted by docgonzo at 8:39 PM on April 17, 2007


CanCon usually sucks.

The Wars fans, Represent!
posted by Firas at 8:46 PM on April 17, 2007


I'd recommend that Dubya read l'Etranger, but as usual, truth has outdone absurdity.
posted by Firas at 8:50 PM on April 17, 2007


He's already read it.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:02 PM on April 17, 2007


Hence my 'truth has overtaken' remark (fittingly, Bush's appraisal was that it's "a quick read". You can lead a horse to water…)
posted by Firas at 9:04 PM on April 17, 2007


I clicked on the "reading list" link. Now I'm too afraid to click on any of the others.

I'm shuddering.
posted by trip and a half at 9:06 PM on April 17, 2007


Munro, Atwood, Ondaatje, and Findley (the Wars) are indeed fine writers (in my humble opinion, which shouldn't count for much). But they're all from a different generation.... Are there any contemporary (i.e., younger) Canadian writers who don't write as though they emerged from a McMFA program?

Anyway, I was being snarky, and that was bad.

The question still remains: why did Martel send the Canadian PM a book by a Russian writer while trying to lobby for more support for the Canadian arts?

Salvage King, Ya! by Mark Anthony Jarman would be a better choice, because it's about hockey and is also finely written.

But, perhaps given Canada's strange involvement in Afghanistan, the Wars would be a better choice of book to send to the PM...
posted by KokuRyu at 11:40 PM on April 17, 2007


Larissa Lai and Nalo Hopkinson are two that spring immediately to mind.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 12:06 AM on April 18, 2007


This is a nice post, well done and etc., but the "SparksNotes" business is... uh, I just expect more from MeFi. Like, the ability to read a whole novella.

I mean no dis-respect, and I recognize their prevalence but I just want to state for the record I think SparksNotes/CliffNotes etc. are a lame ass way to go through life. I fucking hate them, my hatred of them is borderline irrational, I know that and I don't care. If you rely on Cliff Notes you are a fucking tool. (And don't tell me about the Lambs' - people who read them are fucking tools too. Myself included.)

I am now going to drink some coffee and get to work and try to lose some of the aggro.

Nice post. Thanks.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:47 AM on April 18, 2007


From Bklyn, you can read it online for free here if you like.
posted by The Ultimate Olympian at 2:54 AM on April 18, 2007


I once interviewed Yann Martel. He was a very nice and fiercely intelligent. This was in 2003, IIRC, and even then he was worried about how to follow up Life of Pi (the novel he was working on had a central character that was an animal and he said something like "people will think of me as that guy who writes animal stories"). I love stunts like that, but I fear that Martel might be doing it to avoid working on a novel. He hasn't published anything longer than a short story since he published Life of Pi in 2001. That said, the novel he wrote before Life of Pi was published in 1996, so it's not like he was Stephen King like in his prolificness.
posted by Kattullus at 5:05 AM on April 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


That "Who Reads What" list is interesting. Especially Ray Bradbury's choice in 2005
posted by rocket88 at 6:58 AM on April 18, 2007


I fear that Martel might be doing it to avoid working on a novel.

If this stunt can save me from listening to everyone I know talk about how great the new Yann Martel novel is, I'm all for it.
posted by kittyprecious at 7:25 AM on April 18, 2007


That Jessamyn West is dead.
posted by graventy at 8:01 AM on April 18, 2007


There's more than one?
Go figure.
posted by rocket88 at 8:19 AM on April 18, 2007


why did Martel send the Canadian PM a book by a Russian writer while trying to lobby for more support for the Canadian arts?

In the words of Martel: "I thought at first I should send you a Canadian work—an appropriate symbol since we are both Canadians—but I don’t want to be directed by political considerations of any sort, and, more importantly, I can’t think of a work of such brevity, hardly 60 pages, that shows so convincingly the power and depth of great literature."
posted by YamwotIam at 9:53 AM on April 18, 2007


"Who is this man? What makes him tick? No doubt he is busy. No doubt he is deluded by that busyness. No doubt being prime minister fills his entire consideration and froths his sense of busied importance to the very brim... But he must have moments of stillness. And so this is what I propose to do: not to educate — that would be arrogant, less than that — to make suggestions to his stillness."

*Strikes Life of Pi from reading list, decides to reread Solomon Gursky Was Here for the 32nd time*

Yeah, I know, Richler is no great shakes technically and wrote the same book 4 times, but he doesn't make me want to go to the CanCon section of my local library and punch the first person I see.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:12 AM on April 18, 2007


I just hope Martel doesn't send Harper _Handmaid's Tale_. He'd probably find it inspiring.
posted by QIbHom at 2:41 PM on April 18, 2007


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