Friday, November 18, 2005

And Of Course They Don't List Richard Comely

Yesterday the Literary Review of Canada released its list of the 100 most important Canadian books. (Note that "most important book" is not the same as "great book," since the latter implies readability, while the former implies influence.)

The Globe and Mail, of couse, is ever-so-slightly scandalized about the books that didn't make the list:

In its neglect of the theme of hockey, it has passed over Roch Carrier's much loved children's story The Hockey Sweater, about a Quebec boy traumatized when Eaton's sends him a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey. While the list includes many celebrated Canadian novels, such as W.O. Mitchell's Who Has Seen the Wind, Margaret Laurence's The Stone Angel, Carol Shields's The Stone Diaries, Wayson Choy's The Jade Peony and Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance (the one novel set entirely outside Canada), it somehow missed any title by Michael Ondaatje.

Ms. Drainie explained that her colleagues' heated debate as to whether to include The English Patient or In the Skin of a Lion wound up in a draw.

"James Joyce never won the Nobel," she said. "[Ondaatje] is the most important Canadian writer who never made it on to the list of the most important Canadian books."

Since the books are listed in chronological order rather than in order of importance, I thought I'd see if I'd read any of the books that did make the list.

Roughing It In the Bush and Sunshine Sketches I remember from high school and college. Of those two, I'd probably re-read Leacock, if only because his type of humor tends to be quite timeless.

One that I haven't read is In Praise of Older Women, mainly because I'd've been pretty embarrassed about the subject matter. I guess you could call this one important in that it's -- er -- seminal in the history of the MILF cult.

I do feel pretty good that Neuromancer made the cut. I've always maintained that this book was a good example of CanLit even though most people wouldn't think of it when they think of the genre. Cyberspace, anyone?

Oh, and who's Richard Comely? He's a famous Canadian author, all right, except that his creation was Captain Canuck. I guess the Literary Review still hasn't bought the line that graphic novels are part of literature. That's something I'll have to work on.