I’ve previously attended Canada Reads tapings, but this is the first year where I’ve been able to attend all four of them. The circumstances which led to that weren’t the best, but there was no way I was going to pass up this opportunity.
I tried to read all five of the books included this year, but I still haven’t had a chance to read Year Of The Flood. That didn’t matter, though, because there was no shortage of intellectual food to digest as the debates progressed. All five panelists brought something to the table (no pun intended), but in my mind, Wab Kinew and Samantha Bee stood out.
From the beginning, Mr. Kinew made his presence felt. When he walked in with all five books, I knew he came prepared to do battle and his opening defense of The Orenda proved me right. He managed to weave every book into it while still touting the superiority of his book of choice. Throughout the debates, he never strayed from his calm demeanor, but the eloquent force of his points was never lost. For example, after his debate with fellow panelist Stephen Lewis on the torture and violence in The Orenda, Mr. Lewis acknowledged that Kinew “eviscerated” his argument. As for Samantha Bee, she did something I thought impossible: she made me rethink my initial negative reactions to her chosen book, Cockroach. Thanks to a brilliant defense of it, including an ending statement which floored everyone in the studio, I got to the point where I would not have been sad if Cockroach won this year’s contest. A second read probably wouldn’t change my opinion of that book too much, but nonetheless, her insightful comments did not go unappreciated.
If you’re interested in watching this year’s debates and/or finding out more about Canada Reads, you can do so here. I’ll conclude with a picture of me (I’m on the right) with host Jian Ghomeshi.