Wednesday, December 9, 2009

a guest blog

Slush. Actual slush today and high winds. We're in for it now.

My dear friend Lynn has just emailed from the south of France. I'll leave you to enjoy her note, just as she sent it.

I tried to respond to one of your blogs; but after 20 minutes of changing my password and copying out 10 different codes I gave up. So I'm copying it here. ( It was the blog where you complained - yes, yes, I know. It's hard to believe, but you actually complained about something!) and I'm responding to the complaint:

I love these weeks before Christmas. I love hearing 'Little Drummer Boy", and "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas" as I walk along the streets of Montpellier in 18°C weather under a bright blue sky with a mistral blowing. I love the smile on the girl at the cash desk at the 2 euro store because she's already getting into all the joy of the people buying 2 euro junk to decorate their places for Christmas.I love all the hope there. It is indeed the most wonderful time of the year. No earplugs for me. But then again, I live above a bar. But you know that. lynn

My friend does occasionally rub it in that she is in the south of France and we are knee-deep in slush. We forgive her because she allows us to stay with her on occasion, even though, as she says, she lives right above a bar. But the bar is in Montpellier, which is one of the nicest places in France.

Lynn, thank you for giving me a glimpse of someone who actually enjoys that syrupy Xmas music. Mind you, it helps that, perhaps because of your years dedicated to Motown, you have obviously gone slightly deaf. This isn't surprising, given that you are that much older. But even so, a remarkably hot Ph.D. and living in the absolutely right place on earth for your best, much younger friend to visit.


As I mentioned in that same complaining blog, there's an interesting discussion going on in the Globe and Mail's book pages on-line about the fact that Canada Reads, which happily has chosen Wayson's Jade Peony among others, has never selected a non-fiction book. Here's what I posted in response:

Just to expand the discussion a bit, as readers like MelissaW are limiting non-fiction, in this discussion, to mean mostly journalistic or informational writing - non-fiction includes memoir, of which there is a great wealth in Canada, also always ignored. Wayson Choy, for example, whose "Jade Peony" is now being honoured yet again, wrote a beautiful memoir called "Not Yet" this year, which despite rave reviews has been shut out of non-fiction awards.

Other personal favourites, superb books all: "The Danger Tree," by David Macfarlane; "Belonging," by Isabel Huggan; "The Way of a Boy," Ernest Hillen; "Running in the Family" by Michael Ondaatje; "Memoirs of Montparnasse" by John Glassco; "My Turquoise Years," by M.A.C. Farrant.

Even other non-fiction writers sometimes dump on memoirs, presuming them to be self-indulgent attempts at therapy, and some of them are. But books like these are rich and wise and will endure as long as any novel. Give me a true story, any day.

Someone has written in to say that with all the suggestions, they now have their Christmas book list. You can't go wrong with these. I am buying Not Yet for everyone. I beg you, please buy books as gifts this year, and buy them from a small independent bookstore - in Toronto, a place like Ben McNally's downtown, or Nicholas Hoare, or This Ain't the Rosedale Library - struggling to survive, all. You can pass on the joy of a good book - think non-fiction! memoir! - and support those brave booksellers at the same time.

And to my dear Lynn in Montpellier - I think I'll send the new C.D. of Bob Dylan singing Christmas songs. What a joyful, tuneful sound for her. She'd better turn it up loud, though, so her poor deaf ears can hear.


PS Sorry about the confusion of sixteen different fonts today.


  1. so heartening to hear your wish of books as gifts from independent shops. Here in Kingston, Ontario, it would be The Novel Idea at the corner of Bagot & Princess. Rose DeShaw

  2. Thanks, Rose - I'll know where to go in Kingston. Other suggestions, anyone? These independent bookstores are treasures, and if we're not attentive, they'll vanish.

  3. For those of you who love to ski the Blue Mountain area, or those of you who enjoy day trips, how about Curiosity House Books & Gallery in Creemore, Ontario? It's only about two hours north of Toronto. Creemore is a charming village full of small, independently owned shops and restaurants.

  4. Wonderful. Thanks, Lynn.
    Keep those suggestions coming. And then go there please and buy some books!

  5. Pretty element of content. I simply stumbled upon your
    website and in accession capital to assert that I acquire
    in fact enjoyed account your weblog posts. Any way I'll be subscribing to your augment or even I fulfillment you get entry to consistently rapidly.

    Review my webpage ... weight loss diet plan for women