Canada Reads: Is anyone here actually watching?

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bagkitty bagkitty's picture

Unionist wrote:

Oh yeah, no one from Québec - amirite?

You might want to think so Unionist (and damn it is so hard to tell the Central Canadian Overlords apart), but it is just as likely I was thinking the glaring oversight involved of not seating Mike Duffy on the panel.


That line of criticism of the Orenda was unlikely to develop on Canada Reads- if for no other reason because of Waub Keniew's heavily in your face promotion of the book.


Canada Reads is set up to be FIERCLY competitive, and Waub himself is beyond competitive. Gian even let him get away with shouting down the proponent of Annabelle during her slotted point for defending it. [And Annabelle really should have been the last book going up against Orenda.] 

Waub was a pig, when it comes down to it.

That line of criticism of Orenda may not have occured to any of the panelists. But we would not know- because if it did, no non-aboriginal would go on air with it against Waub Keniew.


I did think of it, and never read any reviews. But I'm going to defend Orenda, including against that criticism.

Boyden's narritive is told as the journeys and musings of the main characters. There is VERY little actual dialogue. That comes in mostly as internal single character at a time accounts of what was said.

And there are a minimum number of other characters developed at all.

That is a deliberate device. I found the device took some getting used to [and it is there long before your attention is forced to the graphic violence and torture], even though the "voice" reminded me of living among First Nations people.

Boyden wanted to tell a story that gets as far as possible from 'otherizing' any of the main characters. And that includes the Jesuit Cristophe Crow. And I think it is pretty clear that his own 'larger agenda' is that as peoples we must truly know each other- warts and all. And that includes not treating Jesuits as cardboard cut-outs.

And Boyden also clearly wants First Nations people to face the savagery they visited upon each other, while the colonizing wolf walked in the door... to the point of working with the wolf. Despite many being very aware this is a wolf that looks like it is able to do us in.

In my personal opinion that's not some version of blaming the victim. It isnt for me to say. But I know that Waub Keniew is not going to be alone at all among First Nations community members and intellectuals who feel this needs to be done.

I really do not think the Iroquois are de-humanized, or treated as the archetype of the savagery.

This is an epic story told in very close and very localized detail. The Iroquois are just not part of that little close up world being narrated. And I think Boyden actually goes to lengths to make sure that the similarity of the Huron and Iroquois is portrayed, especially when it comes to making war. Without being didactic, the main character Bird is constantly expressing that,... at the same time he is stoking his relentless reaching for revenge. Bird is portrayed as wise, very tolerant and compassionate, at the same time as he is blinded by the path of revenge.

And I think that is just balderdash that Cristophe Crow is in practice the main character.


It is obviously a book that is going to excite polarized opinions. 


Especially as many called it torture porn

infracaninophile infracaninophile's picture

Allow me to be *really positive* about "Canada Reads." 


It s**ks.


There are better programs promoting Canadian writing -- "The Next Chapter" on radio is one. Eleanor Wachtel's  (sp.?) program, can't remember the exact title, was also excellent. One adapted to TV, including both discussions with authors and including panelists who are readers but not competitors would be a significant improvement, as would (in some cases) contributors who could provide historical or other background to the work.

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

sherpa-finn wrote:

Read Christina's piece on The Orenda - good stuff. So can we add this book to the BBC calendar and use her piece as the diving off spot for the conversation to follow? 

And yes, King's piece from The Muskrat is pretty damning. Was this rather substantive line of criticism not addressed on Canada Reads? (The article itself dates from Sept 13.)


danthony danthony's picture

The Next Chapter is definitely more insightful than Canada Reads, but the two shows really aren't comparable.  CR is closer to advertising than book talk and The Next Chapter is more concerned with the personalities of authors than anything else.   Both are pretty dreadful.  Why doesn't the CBC have a program dedicated to presenting writing on air (poems, short stories, etc.)?


Cameron Bailey did a good job - he makes you want to read it!  Smile 

Kim Thuy's Vietnamese Canadian novel Ru wins Canada Reads

by Craig Takeuchi

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As always, I avoided Canada Reads like the plague. It trivializes books with its Survivor format.