As I’m approaching an inevitable embrace of Canada (oh, sweet mystery of life at last I’ve found you!) I’m aware that I have very little knowledge of Canadian literature. A poor citizen is one who does not know his country’s stories. It is how we speak to one another–a cultural physiography and language that connects Canadians together. How can I become a citizen without learning this cultural language? Sure I could take a class, I suppose, from a Canadian university online, do some papers, etc. But I thought a more creative way would be for Yukoners to suggest Canadian books that meant something to them–then it would be more personal.
So I went on CBC with Dave White and we came up with a plan for book suggestions–a reading list of sorts–so that I could become more literate about Canada. We are getting great results, but please call in to Dave and suggest more books. I’d like to build a canon, of sorts, of Yukon-suggested Canadian literature. Right now I’m looking mostly for fiction, poetry and drama—but I have decided that a few creative nonfiction pieces are a must, a Pierre Berton, a Farley Mowat, even a Kevin Chong (go, KC!). I built a blog to read and discuss this literature. It’s called “A Year of Canadian Reading” and you can follow the link to see what I’m reading, what I’m up to, and what I thought about books you suggested. Follow along if you like. Read them with me. I want to get an idea about Canada from its literature. I want to understand you through your stories. I think when we understand a culture through its stories, we are more able to speak to and hear from its citizens, and as citizens we’re more able to understand each other.
I don’t have any intention of stopping reading after the Year is over—but an actual year is a start. I’ve read some Canadian Literature. I came in with knowing only three authors: Alice Munro, Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje. But I’m aiming for the depth and breadth of Canadian Literature, even the heart of our warm, warm country.