Canada Reads 2017 Notes on Day 3

The Canada Reads competition for the second day is finished and another book has been voted out. Today’s competition is down to three books. The final two will end the contest tomorrow.

Just to remind you, the program is hosted by comedian Ali Hassan and the panelists are Candy Palmater, Humble the Poet, Jody Mitic, Chantal Kreviazuk, and Measha Brueggergosman.

We’re down to three books, Company Town, Fifteen Dogs and The Right to be Cold. Candy Palmater and Jody Mitic are free agents for the voting process.

After a summary of Day 2’s events, We again saw the book trailers for the three remaining books. Each panelist talked about how good they felt their chances were and why. They tried to resist throwing some extra defense into their answers and not completely succeeding!

The first debate is to settle a question. Each person is asked to say why they voted against the book they did in Day 2 and must attempt to change the minds of the other panelists to agree with them. Humble voted against Company Town,

It was an interesting way to debate. Humble tried to gauge the mood of the room and he was looking for a book that had readability and entertainment factor vs substance and felt like The Right to be Cold had the substance but Company Town, which he voted against, had the entertainment, the “whodunnit” but there wasn’t enough substance. He likened it to enough pill vs enough applesauce which was clever, wasn’t it? Measha then defended her book and tried to change his mind, citing the entire society that was created by the author. She tried to show that Company Town does have substance. It might be likened to a soap opera, Young and the Restless but that show has been around a very long time.

Jody voted against Fifteen Dogs yesterday because he knew it was a strong book, and wanted to get rid of the competition! Strategy, it is. It’s difficult to change someone’s mind on that score but Humble reiterated how much he enjoyed his book and predicts it will be a classic.

Measha voted against The Right to be Cold and thought it wasn’t as entertaining or engaging even though it’s also essential and inspiring. Chantal tried to remind everyone that the theme is what book is essential to Canadians and that’s the same word Measha used. She said everything in the book was true and relevant.

The next piece was a brief audio clip from Sheila Watt-Clouthier who wrote The Right to be Cold. The question raised was whether it’s more important for a story to challenge the reader’s world view or reflect it. Candy thinks there’s room for both and it depends on what you’re trying to achieve with the book. Chantal believes you should do both and cited some spiritual examples from the book. Jody commented that it’s easy to read something you agree with so challenge is a good thing sometimes.

The next clip was from Andre Alexis regarding Fifteen Dogs and how the human world is far more violent than Fifteen Dogs is. The question to the panel, violence can tell a story but can it go too far?  Measha finds violence uncomfortable but it can be used in the right context to make you connect to the characters and make you care, as in Company Town. Humble wonders why we are bothered by violence when it seems that the safer our environment, the more we seem to be sensitive to it. Measha weighed in that the violence in FD is about maintaining control whereas in CT it’s a reaction.

Madeliene Ashby spoke about her characters and the point was identity, can a story include you in an experience you are excluded from in your own life. Jody says it depends on your attitude going into the book. He spoke about The Break as being not within his own experience. Chantal tried to relate the violence to the way of the Inuit life being chipped away. Measha added that the main character in CT suffers isolation from abuse and a lot of people can relate to that, and people are disconnected due to technology and that’s becoming more true, too. She says the world might be made up but the characters are still just like everyone else.

Round three brings in comments from social media. Company Town got a comment that it was inclusive but the characters didn’t feel three dimensional. Measha points out that the main characters may seem distant because that’s how the main character, Hwa, sees them or deals with them.

Fifteen Dogs got a remark that the tweeter was upset that the humans in the book were all very horrible. Humble begs to differ. Jody reminded us that the main dog who was the pack leader seemed to be changing later on in his life in spite of the violence.

The Right to be Cold came in for criticism as a hard read with too much information. Chantal was affronted and couldn’t understand how that would work because the book has so much variety of story and science and statistics. I don’t think she got that was exactly why people might be put off. Jody mentioned  all the science and not enough about the author but Chantal really got defensive at that remark.

Ali had to cut off the debate because…

Now we vote:
It looks like they’re having a tough time as they all put their strategies into play.

The votes go to:
The Right to be Cold
Company Town
The Right to be Cold
Company Town
and again a tie breaker with Jody having to do the honours and he went with…
The Right to be Cold

Ok, did you see that coming?

Today, the finale. Fifteen Dogs vs Company Town

Which of the two books will be the victor? Guesses? I’m going with Fifteen Dogs even though I preferred Company Town because I think the awards it has got will be of some influence and I think Humble the Poet has been very convincing and has stayed calm, dignified and well prepared.

I found myself drawn to Jody who talked briefly about his grievous injury as a soldier when he lost his feet to a land mind. Would he change himself as characters in Nostalgia did? He didn’t say yes or no but allowed that he wouldn’t be where he is today, on television, with children etc. because it changed him and he had to remake his life.

Links to the ways to watch or listen to today’s debates online. 


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