April 11, 2009

Canadian Literature and Other Myths

At times it feels like the American reader—Americans in general, really—leads an insular existence. Piracy off the African coast of Somalia has been going on for years, but Americans seem to have only recognized it's existence due to the abduction of an American citizen this spring. And who could blame them for caring little of the world beyond their borders? It's the greatest nation on Earth, so what could the rest of the planet possibly have to offer?

If it can be said that American readers care little of authors from other countries, particularly Canada, than it would also be fair to accuse me of being an American reader. I say this because I can count on one hand the number of Canadian authors whose books I have read. Truth be told, I could count on one finger.

Yann Martel, author of Life of Pi—an excellent novel I'd recommend to anyone—is the only Canadian fiction writer I can mention. And he was born in Spain. I read Streeters by Canadian comedian, Rick Mercer, but it was practically pamphlet-sized and essentially transcriptions of his on-air rants. Why in the world have I not read more novels by Canadian authors?

Well, now that I think of it, there was Timothy Findley's
Not Welcome on the Voyage. Spider Robinson might be Canadian too, though I can't say with any certainty without Googling him. In any case, it is a shameful admission on my part to say I have trouble naming notable Canadian authors whose works I am anxious to read. What's more, I'm sure a minor amount of research would give me a plethora of names to choose from in genres of every sort.

I'm not what I would conscientiously call "well read." In all my thirty-odd years, I've read less than two hundred novels. I blame my adolescent apathy towards books, which perpetuated through my college years. It wasn't until I got the bug to write again that I took up reading again. A lot of time is gone, which would have been well spent familiarizing myself with authors of every flag, including Canada. It's never too late to start though, so another belated resolution for 2009 is to find some Canadian authors on the shelves and read what they have to offer. If I can read books from Great Britain, Italy, and the omnipresent America, I can surely find time to include my home country.

I only wish it wasn't a matter of having to find them as if I were attempting an archaeological excavation.

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