What can a Canadian-in-training learn about Canada through its literature?   3 comments

I decided to find out.  CBC North agreed to take on the challenge to Educate Me about Canada because, Heaven knows, I need the help.  I want to know what country I’ve adopted as my own–and I’d like to know it through stories, poems and plays.

What books are we made of? (I discuss which books I’m made of, so far, in this blog post).  What books are Canadians made up of?  What do they tell us about Canada?

This is the website to Educating Jerome, the CBC North radio program. I’m sending out a request to the kindhearted, bookish people of Whitehorse for suggestions on a reading list.   I’ll read some books from that list and tell you what I’ve learned.  I’ll blog responses here to those books, and of other Canadiana. (They’re not so much reviews of the books, I guess, but more what I’m learning about Canada).  Follow along if you’d like.  Talk with me.  While it’s good to hunker down in the middle of Winter with a good book, it’s better if you can share it with someone.

Maybe you’ll find one of your favorite books on here too.  Maybe you want to read along too.  Maybe you have a suggestion for me.  Let me know by leaving me a comment on the page, Suggest a Book For Jerome.

I’ll write reviews on the blog, and will index them on What He’s Read.  If it’s clickable, it has a book response.

I’m looking forward to your suggestions, and to reading more Canadian literature in my first Year of Canadian Reading.  Please help me understand this great country through your literature.


Main photo is by Amanda Graham, Yukon Territory


Posted December 14, 2010 by jstueart

3 responses to “What can a Canadian-in-training learn about Canada through its literature?

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  1. I think its so wonderful what your doing, I just recently moved from ontario to new york, and you just gave me the best idea ever…thankss
    p.s any suggestions on what book I should start reading??

  2. Tona,

    Of course!

    Owen Wister–The Virginian (father of the Western… he came to Theodore Roosevelt with his novel and the President said of course he should publish it. The story of the novel is as good as the novel itself)

    F. Scott Fitzgerald–The Great Gatsby. then take yourself on the Long Island Railroad, get off at Oyster Bay, go see Theodore Roosevelt’s house, and then wander the neighborhood, and make sure to go to Oyster Bay, or Long Island Sound and stare over at the mansions, and you will feel all Nick Carraway, the narrator of The Great Gatsby.

    Walt Whitman–“Song of Myself” from Leaves of Grass. The turning point in poetry was Whitman’s self-published, often edited and tinkered with by the author (were there six editions?) just to get it right— he is devoted to finding the American in every man and woman and loving them. His whole work, Leaves of Grass, has so many, so many beautiful poems (and has a Long Island setting too)

    Short stories by Andre Dubus (the father of Andre Dubus III)–a beautiful voice and such a caring for each character.

    A Prayer for Owen Meany—John Irving. A beautiful novel about destiny and how unbeautiful our lives can look as they unfold, but how miraculous little moments are.

    Yo! –Julia Alvarez. The immigrant experience is common even if you don’t share the nationality. I found a lot in Alvaraz’s book, and it’s divided into chapters that have both a literary description (essay, fiction, poetry, etc) and a person’s story told from their POV. I found it fascinating.

    Gregory Maguire—Wicked: the Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, turns Wizard of Oz on its ear, though it doesn’t change any of the story. I found the book contained as much American-ism as the original; themes of oppression, religious dogma, rebellion, terrorism, labor camps, an unreachable and cold government–all find their place in Oz. The Musical is the fun, banal version, but I prefer the book.

  3. My suggestion is not by a Canadian author but is set in Canada (Labrador, actually). It’s The Chrysalids, by John Wyndham.

    I’ll also throw in that it’s set a thousand or so years in the future…

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