"The Pulse of Canada "



Critics of ‘vulgar’ book for young adults want Governor General’s award rescinded

Posted January 24, 2015 by Anonymous

A Kanata children’s author has joined a protest over the awarding of a Governor General’s Literary Award to what critics are calling a “vulgar” and “gratuitous” book for young adults about gender identity issues in high school.

Kathy Clark says she is among 1,500 people across Canada petitioning the Canada Council to revoke the 2014 award because of graphic content in Raziel Reid’s debut novel When Everything Feels like the Movies.

The novel is inspired by the true story of an openly gay 15-year-old California boy who was shot to death in 2008 by a classmate he’d asked to be his Valentine. Its protagonist is a transgender male teen whose “sexual yearnings, masturbating, fantasizing (disturbingly, including sex with his father) and voyeurism constitute the bulk of the narrative,” Barbara Kay wrote in a National Post column.

Clark, author of two children’s books, says Reid’s use of language is inappropriate for a book recognized in the young adult classification (12 to 18) within the children’s literature category.

“I know it’s difficult to write about difficult and sensitive issues,” says Clark. “But it’s very possible to write about them in an appropriate way without resorting to vulgar language.”

For the award, Reid — a graduate of the New York Film Academy and former columnist for Xtra Vancouver — received $25,000, and his publisher Arsenal Pulp Press received $3,000 to promote the book. In a statement to the Citizen, the 25-year-old author said he set out to reflect what young people talk about, and how they talk about it.

“I’m not promoting a culture, I’m depicting one — and I’m doing it with the graphic language that culture uses, and with the themes that culture is consumed with: fame, drugs, sex, and selfies,” Reid said.

“For my generation, a (Facebook) Like has replaced physical warmth and affection. This has created a nihilistic society obsessed with ‘instafame’ and instant gratification. As a result, youth are facing a deeper isolation than ever before. I wrote this story so that readers can understand lost teenagers like my narrator Jude Rothesay.”

The Canada Council, which adjudicates the literary awards and hands out more than $400,000 in prize money to authors and publishers, said it won’t revoke the award.

“Finalists and winners of the Governor General’s Literary Awards are selected by peer assessment committees, or juries, that are composed of respected members of the literary milieu. They base their decisions on the literary and artistic merit of the books in the competition,” the council’s head of writing and publishing, Arash Mohtashami-Maali, said in a statement.

“The Canada Council for the Arts stands by their choices.”


Peer assessors Kevin Sylvester, Jessica Scott Kerrin and Hiromi Goto evaluated more than 200 submissions in the children’s literature text category and said this about their choice: “An edgy and uneasy story with no simple resolutions, Raziel Reid’s When Everything Feels like the Movies is unflinching. An openly gay teen in a small-minded town, Jude Rothesay’s fantasy life is a movie but his real life isn’t. He is audacious, creative, rude, often hilarious and sometimes heartbreaking. He’s unforgettable.”

When Everything Feels like the Movies is one of five novels to be featured on CBC’s upcoming Canada Reads debate series scheduled for March 16 to 19. A debate will determine which book breaks barriers, change perspectives, challenge stereotypes and illuminate issues. Others cover topics such as the immigrant experience and treatment of aboriginal people.

Clark and another protester, Paddy Dupuis, question why a book aimed at young people was selected.

“I did find it interesting that the Canada Reads books came out and it’s in the adult category, not in the children (category),” says Dupuis.

The CBC did not respond to a request for comment.

Elaine Lui, gossip blogger and co-host on the CTV daytime talk show The Social, will defend the book. In an interview with the CBC, she acknowledged that Reid’s work is the first young adult book to be featured in Canada Reads competition.

“It is my honour to be the first person to defend the first young adult book,” she said. “And in particular this young adult book — not only breaking barriers because of it’s so-called genre, but breaking barriers because the story is about how we marginalize that which is unknown to us and we create victims. But victims don’t have to be defined by our own cruelty, they can rewrite their own stories.”

The petition can be found here.


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Exploring Disability and Technological ‘Cures’ in Science Fiction

Posted January 23, 2015 by Anonymous

Science fiction as a genre has the unique ability, though not always exercised, to break free of current social norms and explore entirely new possibilities for humanity. Since the 1960s, feminist science fiction has critiqued traditional gender roles and challenged audiences to imagine alternatives. But despite being a big SF fan, I realized I had never really […]

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Book Review: Everything I Never You By Celeste Ng

Posted January 22, 2015 by Anonymous

I don’t know how you feel about your high school experience, but you couldn’t pay me enough to repeat mine. Don’t get me wrong: it wasn’t horribly traumatic or anything (and it’s been a long time since I’ve had one […]

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Enter To Win A Book Lover’s Library

Posted January 21, 2015 by Anonymous

What better way to pass the time this winter than curling up under a blanket with a hot cup of tea and a great book? We are giving away a four-pack of amazing reads to one of our lucky readers. […]

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Fatty’s Book Club 1.0: Fat Tire Flyer

Posted January 8, 2015 by fatty

You can tell when someone is in love. And I’m not talking about first-blush, first-kiss, first-sight love here. I’m talking about a long term relationship. One that has stood the test of time.
You can tell when someone has been in love long enough to have history, kids and grandkids, and a lot of stories. 
You have […]

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Please Hold While I Go To Meetings and Get Things Ready and Stuff

Posted January 8, 2015 by fatty

Hi There. I’m out of town doing work stuff for my day job; I haven’t had / won’t have time to do a lot of writing yesterday or today.
However, while held up at an airport yesterday, I did make some progress on getting the first book in the book club lined up—including a sizable discount on […]

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How to read more books in 2015

Posted January 4, 2015 by andrea tomkins

Now that we have turned the page on a new calendar year I’ve decided to track my reads in 2015 and see how many I can squeeze in, and possibly (hopefully!) read even more. Here’s my strategy: I’m going to read more books this year by (a) maintaining some good reading habits and (b) finding new material. 1) […]

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Book Review: Big Little Lies By Liane Moriarty

Posted January 2, 2015 by Anonymous

I’m not much of a Hollywood Star gazer, but I have to say that I kind of love Jennifer Garner. My admiration of her has nothing to do with her acting ability (although I hear that she’s quite talented), and […]

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Crowdsourcing: What books do I need to read in 2015?

Posted December 29, 2014 by DaniGirl

It wasn’t so much that I was resisting getting an e-reader of my own up until now. Beloved got a Kindle way back in the day when they first came out, and I’d use his every now and then, but it was attached to his credit card and it was always a bit of an […]

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Checking out Gretchen Rubin’s “Better Than Before”

Posted December 26, 2014 by Tanya McGinnity

I admit to being a Gretchen Rubin fangirl. I’ve read her previous book, “The Happiness Project” and liked it quite a bit. She’s like an investigative journalist for topics relating to human nature that she finds both interesting and challenging (coincidentally these are topics that I’m into as well). Before you say “pffft” and pass […]

The post Checking out Gretchen Rubin’s “Better Than Before” appeared first on Full Contact Enlightenment.

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The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels

Posted December 24, 2014 by JR

Whatever the “morality” of using fossil fuels, Ezra Levant made the case for “Ethical Oil” from Canadian oil fields versus “unethical” oil from dirty, human rights abusing third world dictatorships.

Now philosopher Alex Epstein makes the “moral” case for fossil fuels, PERIOD!  The following three excerpts from his new book “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels” were published in the Nat Po:

Making the world a better place — by using more fossil fuels

Wrapping our minds around climate change

The sustainability myth

Looks like an excellent read. I’m buying it.


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Book Review: “Dear Daughter” By Elizabeth Little

Posted December 23, 2014 by Anonymous

Something weird used to happen to me every time I visited my parents. I should probably start off by saying that visiting them wasn’t easy: it took at least a full day of plane travel to get to their house […]

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What I’m Reading: Slogging Through Marriage

Posted December 4, 2014 by Jennifer

Weddings are wonderful; newlywed life is exciting and full of life, but marriage… marriage is hard. Don’t get me wrong. I’m happily married and wouldn’t trade my husband for any other partner, but being married can be work. Figuring out […]

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The Machine Stops

Posted November 23, 2014 by James Bow

Maybe it’s kismet, but as I write The Curator of Forgotten Things, I’ve been encountering more and more references to E.M. Forster’s Edwardian science fiction novella, The Machine Stops. This story, written in 1909 (and in the public domain; the…

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What To See At INSPIRE! Toronto International Book Fair

Posted November 12, 2014 by Jennifer

Toronto-area book lovers are looking forward to a new and exciting event this weekend. INSPIRE! Toronto International Book Fair is Canada’s book exposition for all things print and digital, launching this weekend, November 13 to 16, 2014. From literature to […]

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7 Ways To Celebrate Family Literacy Month

Posted November 11, 2014 by Anonymous

Written by Kait Fowlie November is family literacy month! It also happens to be the best time of the year to indulge in some serious reading—the rainy days, cold nights, the lull before the Holidays—November is meant for curling up […]

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What I’m Reading: Let’s Hear It For the Girls

Posted November 4, 2014 by Jennifer

My nine-year-old daughter is a voracious reader of series. She has plowed through everything from Magic Tree House to Chris Colfer’s Land of Stories trilogy, and she loves finding a series that gets her hooked. Recently she started Rick Riordan’s […]

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Memoir: Velvet & The Mousehouse Years

Posted October 16, 2014 by Sonya

Velvet Haney went from living a life of poverty in the slums of Toronto in the 1960s to gallivanting around the world as a high fashion model, returning to Toronto 14 years later. And for over 50 years, she has […]

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What I’m Reading: Fall Books

Posted September 30, 2014 by Jennifer

Aaaaahhhh fall! So much to love about the season: boots and tights; apple crisp and pumpkin pie; cooler days and turning leaves. And just as we leave our beach and pool days behind, so too do we turn away from […]

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Book Review: “Turning Confusion into Clarity”

Posted September 14, 2014 by Tanya McGinnity

Yongey Mingur Rinpoche’s latest book “Turning Confusion into Clarity” did just what the title promised. Well, at least the first two sections…. As a student and practitioner who is getting ready to dip a toe into ngondro practices (steady there, I still have a little ways to go), this book came at the right time […]

The post Book Review: “Turning Confusion into Clarity” appeared first on Full Contact Enlightenment.

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Currently reading: ‘Turning Confusion into Clarity’ by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

Posted September 1, 2014 by Tanya McGinnity

I have been enjoying to no end the latest book from Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche titled “Turning Confusion into Clarity”. It’s one of those ‘Oh look. I highlighted everything’ kind of books. It’s one of those “I know I will be referring to this book often in my life’ kind of books. It’s one of those […]

The post Currently reading: ‘Turning Confusion into Clarity’ by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche appeared first on Full Contact Enlightenment.

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Regrets, I’ve Had a Few… But Would You Change Anything?

Posted August 1, 2014 by Nikki Stafford
A couple of weeks ago I read two books that had just come out, by authors I’d read before and loved. The first was Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley, he of Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series fame. Scott Pilgrim is a six-book series about a guy living in Toronto in his early 20s, battling the ex-boyfriends of the girl he wants to be with. Secondsis a one-off standalone novel about Katie, a girl living in what seems more like Southwestern Ontario (where O’Malley is originally from, and where I now live after moving here from Toronto a couple of years ago), in her 30s, at a certain point in her life where she’s questioning the decisions she’s made to get to this point. As anyone who is 40 or older can tell you, life seems to follow a certain expected trajectory: childhood, then choosing your future as a teenager, when you are insane and hormonal and should NEVER be making life decisions, but there it is. Your 20s are for getting a start in that life and shooting off in the direction you chose as the crazy teenager, your 30s are for moving up in whatever life direction you’ve chosen, and your 40s are to start sitting back and enjoying the ride, because you’ve made it to the top.

In theory.

But see, often (not always, I should add), somewhere in your mid-30s, you realize maybe you’re not quite there. And a quick check into the future tells you you’re not going to get there. You’ve started changing. You’ve met new people, you’ve discovered new things, and suddenly that life trajectory that seemed perfect in your stupid teenage years isn’t so rosy anymore.

I didn’t have a single regret at age 34. At 40, I have several.

And that’s where Katie’s finding herself. She opened a fabulous restaurant with friends called Seconds, and it’s become THE hot spot in town. But she was the chef, not the owner, and over time many of the friends bailed, and the owner became distant, and she’s decided to set out on her own and buy a building downtown, near a bridge, and fix it up so it’ll become her new restaurant, called Katie’s. But the building is more decrepit than she thought it would be. And she can’t seem to stay away from hanging around Seconds. And then there’s that guy she was madly in love with whom she let go a few years ago, who keeps coming to the restaurant and making her regret her choices.

And then one night, an accident happens at the restaurant that she causes.

When she returns to her room, there’s a blonde girl sitting atop her dresser, hunched over like a little pixie, and gives her the opportunity to eat one mushroom, write down the one thing she wants to change on a pad of paper, and in the morning, poof… the accident no longer happened, and things are set aright. You can only do this once, she’s told. But… what if she did it just one more time?

Or, maybe… a few more times?

Seconds is a fabulous book, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. I adored the Scott Pilgrim series, but Secondsis more mature, and the illustrations are gorgeous.

The other book I picked up was Landline by Rainbow Rowell. I first discovered Rowell’s writing last year when I read Fangirl, and thought it was an excellent examination of fandom and the way fans feel around non-fans, people who think we spend too much time on the internet or blogging, and the argument about fan fic vs. original fiction. Rowell, who is one of the best fan fic writers on the interwebs, was clearly writing from experience, and I instantly felt a connection to her main character. And then I picked up Eleanor & Park, which is one of the most extraordinary YA novels I’ve ever read. Yes, I did my due diligence as a YA reader and also read The Fault in Our Stars right after, and yet E&P resonated with me so much more. It was beautiful, and real, and set around the very time I was experiencing my own first love, and we connected the same way Eleanor and Park do: through Smiths records.

Landline is the story of a woman who writes for television, and who gets her big break for the pilot she’s been shopping around with her colleague for years. The catch: she has to write the first four episodes before Christmas, which is 10 days away, and therefore she can’t go away to Omaha to see her husband’s family for Christmas. Her husband, tired of her putting work before family again, picks up the girls and takes them anyway, leaving her behind, and he refuses to answer his cellphone for days. Alone, confused, upset, regretful, and not sure what to do, she goes to her parents’ house, the same one she grew up in, and one night pulls out the old yellow rotary phone to call her husband. And… he picks up. But his father picks up first. The father who died a couple of years ago.

When she realizes this rotary phone is somehow a conduit into the past, she’s suddenly faced with a possibility: can she have discussions in the present that will affect her decisions in the past? Could she say or do something right now that will alter what happened before, and change the trajectory of her life?

I loved the book, and thought Rowell hit the emotions right on the head on every page. And I was equally surprised that the theme was so close to O’Malley’s book. Here I was picking up books from two authors I really enjoy reading, and both of them are tackling the same issue: getting to a certain point in our lives and questioning everything that came before. And, through magic realism, allowing their characters to explore the possibility of changing those decisions to see what might happen to them.

Like every reader will no doubt do, I closed both of these books wondering what I would change. I’m someone who tends to think things through five steps ahead of the present one (which is why I don’t take many risks, probably), and so every time I thought of something I might like to change, I traced the consequences of that action, and there was always a price to pay.

I wish I’d kept up this blog more, instead of letting people leave in a mass exodus because I was so exhausted when Lost ended that I just couldn’t keep up the pace after the final book came out. But if I’d kept focused on the blog, I wouldn’t have time to do the freelance work I do now, or read as many books, or spend time with my kids. I still write on here occasionally, and get a total of four comments (one of which is inevitably pointing out something big I missed in my rushed review), and that’s my new normal.

There’s the book writing opportunity I was offered four years ago that I turned down because I’d just finished the final Finding Lost book, and it turned out to be a much bigger opportunity than I would have guessed, which has devastated me. After years of working as a professional writer, this would have been the big time. And I blew it. But again, I would have spent the last four years travelling and being away from my family, and with so much upheaval here, I probably couldn’t have done that. I can deal with a missed opportunity, as hard as it’s been, but I couldn’t possibly deal with anything shaking up the strong family I have. Perhaps another opportunity will come, one that will allow me to stay put and still write.

So much has happened to me in the past four years — both very good and very bad — and when it’s all weighed, I’m a very happy person. I’m the first to say motherhood is the best thing that’s ever happened to me, but I also see so many people around me without kids who are achieving great things because they don’t have to worry about anyone else (and my husband has definitely had an upward trajectory while I’ve kept the home fires burning), and I gave up my job and city to move to a smaller town so I could spend more time with my kids. I love them with all my heart, and think they’ll always be more important than any blog or book or job will ever be.

Sure, I still have that Marlon Brando moment like everyone else does at some point in their lives. I could have been somebody.

And then I became a mom. And suddenly I was no longer a somebody, and realized I never really would be. But, I’d be the most important somebody to two people. At least, for the next few years I will be. And I realize there are people out there at the top of their game, beloved and/or famous and/or extremely successful, and they have a dresser full of regrets, too. Just like in that BtVS episode “Earshot,” everyone has their own problems and regrets, and no one’s is more important than another’s.

But if I had a yellow rotary phone, or a pixie sitting atop a dresser with a magic mushroom… who knows what I would wish to change in my past? Would I ever take that risk? Do I really want to, or, when all is said and done, is this the happiest and best outcome there could possibly be?

Would you do it? 

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