Off the Page
A blog on Canadian writing, reading, and everything in between
Kathleen Winter invites us to take a peek at her personal library.
Robin Spano's got a new Clare Vengel book out: Death's Last Run. Here she talks about constructing Clare: sexual appetit …
Journalist Wade Rowland proposes radical reform to save the CBC from certain fiscal crisis.
The author of new novel Every Happy Family with a special guest-post for Mother's Day.
Our coast-to-coast guide of literary festivals to look forward to this spring.
All the best books for teens and young readers in Spring 2013.
The authors of The Wolves of St. Peter's on the Vatican's dramatic appeal.
As the recent papal conclave showed, the Vatican knows how to put on a good show. The suspense was nail-biting, and not just for Catholics. It seemed like everyone was glued to their TV sets and computer screens. The secrecy: Turn off those twitter feeds! The ancient rituals: White smoke or black? The speculation: Canadian, African, or Italian? But as much as we wanted to know who the next Pope would be, we didn’t want the show to end. It was Survivor Vatican and we were hooked.
The outgoing Pope Benedict XVI insisted he timed his departure so we’d have a new Pope for Easter—but we have to wonder if the Vatican made a deal with Showtime to fit the conclave in before the start of the third season of their hit series The Borgias. It would have been a terrible dilemma to have to choose between these two shows: “Tonight should we watch The Borgias—Season 3 or The Vatican—Season 266?” Maybe we would confuse the two as the sets and costumes (and some of the attitudes) haven’t changed much in 500 years.
Is this what continues to fascinate us and so many others about the Vatican? This sense of it as not-quite real, a theatre piece or historical drama up there with the best cable has to offer?
Our addict …
Drawing on over three decades of experience, one of Canada's leading literary journalists asks the question: Do we want a public broadcaster? In Saving the CBC: Balancing Profit and Public Service (Linda Leith Publishing, 2013) Wade Rowland points to years of chronic underfunding and the potential loss of broadcast rights for Hockey Night in Canada as signals that it's time for reform. Rowland argues that not since the Great Depression has there been such opportunity for public service broadcasting in Canada to compete on the world stage. But, he says, this will require radical change.
We asked Wade Rowland to talk about the CBC of his youth, today's younger audience demographic, and what vision he holds for the CBC of the future.
Julie Wilson: Tell us about your earliest memories of the CBC. How has a national broadcaster kept you connected to your regional roots and national identity?
Wade Rowland: In my childhood homes in Regina and Winnipeg, the CBC was always on the radio. More than any other influence, it shaped my sense of what it means to be Canadian. Listening to network broadcasts gave you the feeling that you were part of a larger, transcontinental audience that shared some essential values. It has always been the role of public broadcasting to foster that kind of value co …
A guest post by the author of new novel The Miracles of Ordinary Men.
Confession: for most of my twenties, I wasn’t that much of an Atwood fan. Or, really, of Mordecai Richler. Or Rohinton Mistry. Or Michael Ondaatje. Nor was I, truth be told, all that much in love with Alice Munro, perfect storyteller though she might be. In my late teens and early twenties, I was all about the international read—I wanted books that were about far away. Books that would teach me about the Literature of the World. (Or something. It sounds silly now. It made perfect sense back then.) Books that would open me. Books that would make the world feel so much bigger than my tiny little one-intersection hometown.
Or so I told myself. What I really wanted, I think now, were books that would tell me about magic. Books like Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, or The Time Traveller’s Wife, or The God of Small Things—different magical books all, and none of them Canadian, but books that I loved so much I took them to the UK and back, multiple times, and who cared about that extra weight in the suitcase. Books like The Night Circus, which I discovered only last year, peeling open its pages with the wonderful thrill of the booklover: oh yes. You. I’ve been waiting forever for you.
I felt this way, I think, b …
"The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new." —Rajneesh
Once you are a mother, you are a mother for the rest of your life. A perpetual contract, there is no such thing as time off. Your heart has been peeled back, your instinct turned on. Motherhood was the first time I knew without doubt that I would lay down my life for someone else. Pregnant with that first child, I asked a spiritual leader at my church how he liked being a parent. He was the father of an eight year old. Constant heartbreak, he said, with such honest feeling that I’ve never forgotten his words, though I’ve since forgotten his name and face.
Four children and innumerable heartbreaks later, big and small, joyful and otherwise, I stand on the cusp of no longer being vital or even necessary to my children. Our youngest, now fourteen, has begun the by now familiar parental exorcism. Pulling away from or perhaps pulling ahead of us, she’s clearly feeling the same way my thirteen-year-old self once felt towards my parents: as much as I loved them, I couldn’t help but hate them. For no reason that I can no …
From a very young age, I knew I wanted to be a writer. Becoming a mother was not on my list of things to do, so I find it amusing now that I would have three children before I would publish a book. That’s amazing to me not just because the time has sped by (this is my 15th year of celebrating Mother’s Day) but also because for many years I had assumed I would remain childless. When that assumption changed, I found myself, like many women today, beginning a family in my mid thirties.
Despite being well educated and politically engaged, I had paid little attention to how the medical terrain surrounding pregnancy had changed. I had no clue, for instance, that there was a label for women like me. According to the medical profession, I was in the category of “advanced maternal age.” Suddenly, before I’d even had an examination, I had a big red RISK stamped onto my file. I felt as if I’d failed pregnancy 101 before I’d even shown up for the class.
Without a doubt, reproductive technologies have changed our ideas and practices about creating new human life. Google the words Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) and read about the various procedures now available, and you might well wonder if you’re in Victor Frankenstein’s “workshop of filthy creation.” In fact, many …