Saturday, December 13, 2008

Farley Mowat

Farley Mowat is nearly ninety, but he's the most exciting thing in Canada, according to New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof.

Kristof challenged his readers to name something interesting about Canada (he couldn't come up with anything). Then he hit on an idea:

Something really exciting about Canada just dawned on me last night, as I was reading Farley Mowat’s book, “The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be,” to my 11-year-old daughter. It’s Farley Mowat. He is such a wonderful, evocative writer — an exciting one, even — and he even manages to make Saskatoon exciting.
I'm astonished, mostly, that Mowat has contemporary 11-year-old readers.

I tried to get a copy of The Dog Who Wouldn't Be for my nephew and niece last year, and in the end concluded that it had gone out of print. (I ended up buying a new paperback of Owls in the Family, only to find out they had it already....)

Of course, Mowat has a new book out: Otherwise (M&S , 2008). And he's the feature of a large profile in today's Globe and Mail.

But the most exciting about Canada? Has Kristof not heard about the poetry crisis?

"Never let the facts interfere with the truth," Mowat tells the Globe. He is a booming voice from an age of Canada that is gone. At times, he has been a brilliant storyteller. He isn't unserious, but even he acknowledges it has been a long time since he carried any cultural weight.

Is Kristof joking? He doesn't appear to be, except that his December 5, 2008 column is silly, yes. He praised Canada for "sensational work promoting micronutrients like iodine," and Canadians complained because he also called us "boring."

WTF, he asks? Is that so bad?

I don't think so (some of the comments in reply are just hilarious).

But it's low to place Farley Mowat are the head of "something exciting" about Canada. One staggers to know where to begin the rebuttal.

Suggesting Kristof read Rawi Hage might be a good place to start.

There are innumerable others.

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