Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Jian Ghomeshi and Rawi Hage

There's been a lot of debate about worth, or more exactly, lack of worth, in the Canada Reads series. The focus has been on the rules and their deployment. But the reason I only tune in for a yearly snapshot, and then only after the fact in desultory fashion, centres on the host.

I recently spent an excruciating twenty-plus minutes listening to Jian Ghomeshi try to cajole Rawi Hage into an admission that Canada is a big-hearted, complex-free assimilator. Hage's patience was admirable, and he also had to set the dilettante faux-chuckler straight on other matters.

I let out a silent cheer when I subsequently read that Hage hated lit soirees, and preferred kibbitzing with his taxi buddies since that's where the real storytelling originated.

I then thought, no doubt naively, that a parallel Canada Reads series would be a bigger bang for reader, author, and viewer if the host(s) were also fretted in depth with the books on display. But passionate digressions obviously scare CBC admin-flunkies who think they know how to "read" the public's taste for hard-hitting current events buffered by soft-boiled lit chat.

I realize the feed is from Feb 2009, but Teh World Wide Interwebz is a big place, and I'm frequently several universes behind.


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