Gearing Up for Canada Reads

Canada Reads

Prepare for the most Canadian of radio battles - the search and discussion for a Canuck book that everyone should read. The broadcast isn't until April 17th (runs through the 21st), but the website already has the moderately well known Canadians and the books they've chosen to defend.

John K. Samson (of the Weakerthans) - Complicated Kindness
Maureen McTeer - Deafening
Nelofer Pazira (you may know her film Return to Kandahar, and her bio Bed of Red Flowers)- Three Day Road
Susan Musgrave - Rooms for Rent in the Outer Planets (poetry)
Scott Thompson - Cocksure

While I dig the choices of defenders - representing a well-rounded group of artsy Canadians, I'm not sure how I feel about their book choices. Mainly because the first two are major fiction releases from last year - Complicated Kindness won the Giller, and rightfully so, it's a brilliant book (read it, if you haven't).

Deafening and Three Day Road are also unequivocally solid choices (the latter being a fiction release from this fall season and was overlooked by the Giller, but generally critically admired). The thing is, they don't need the attention. They're already selling, a lot of Canadians have read or will certainly read them.

Scott's choice of Cocksure is cool, definitely one of the lesser known Richler's (if there is such a thing), but again, it's not like Mordecai is lacking an audience. I'm glad there's a poetry collection in the offing, because it is generally a somewhat underappreciated genre and, aside from Beowulf, you're not likely to find a big seller.

My feeling is Susan Musgrave is the only person who could conceivably be introducing something entirely new to the CR audience. I mean, come on - the people listening are likely to be the more literately enthusiastic of the Canadian public. They go into bookstores on a regular basis, read reviews, pick up a couple of the GG nominees and so on.

Last year a more of the titles (Volkswagon Blues, Rockbound) were out of nowhere (alas, Olivia Chow disappointed me with her choice of Oryx and Crake - come on. Atwood? So obvious. And so completely not her best work). There was more of an attempt to really expose some high quality, underappreciated work to an eager, attentive audience.

Perhaps this time around more people will have stronger opinions during the discussions having perhaps revisited familiar titles and/or authors, but I am bummed that there isn't anything on the list I'm immediately curious about and have to hunt down.

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