Saturday, September 26, 2009

Wipe your feet, ingrates

The responses aside, I think Victoria Glendinning's assessment of the state of Canadian literature obscures something wonderful.
The strength of Canadian crime writing has never been better.
I've ripped through a trio of great books recently and I'm now much more predisposed to wave the flag as a result of homegrown crime writing than over the wonders of the Giller list. On the basics-plot, character, plausibility, propulsion and just the well madeness of it all, our crime fiction is very damn good and competes with anything.
I feel differently saying that with the crime stuff too, as there isn't a hint of boosterism in it.
Time was, Canadian literary culture had a lot of self esteem issues come up when a heavy hitter was or wasn't on an international shortlist somewhere. It got to be like the Olympics when we'd come up short somewhere, wonder if we were good enough, spending enough, why don't they love us, etc. Clearly that's still present.
Crime writers just kept their heads down and did the work. There was no star system, relatively little in terms of star maker machinery and no money in it.
To be fair, there's not much bank in writing literature either, no matter what Stephen Harper says.

But while Glendinning vs. Canada plays out, it should be noted that there's other dogs in the fight, and that the jacket blurbs on Canadian crime book jackets have (gasp) Americans and even Europeans full of praise.

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