Sunday, April 6, 2008

Canadian Writers I Would Sleep With

Canadian Writers I Would Sleep With

“Who’re the most perverted people in the world?” a professor once asked EN6849 (Canadian Prairie Fiction), a graduate seminar. “Geriatric gynaecologists,” a fellow student shot back. “Old doctors?” wondered another dizzy peer. “I think you've missed the point,” said the professor.

In a way it’s ironic that Canadian writers--the real answer/perverts--are so overtly sexual in their work, but so incredibly chaste as they appear (or don't) in the public idea(l) of the “literary community.” To wit: a friend once went to a book signing where Margaret Atwood was appearing in-the-flesh. He got to the front of the line, thrust forward his copy of Lady Oracle, and spoke the remark he’d been polishing for days: “I never knew a vagina could have 421 pages.” (The first-edition hardcover was 421-pages long.) Atwood just looked at him with those soldiering eyes, snorted, and thumbed him on his way.

Now the guy thought he was going to be hit with a comeback. This was, after all, Margaret Atwood. She was the smartest, the most abrasive and strident of all the Canadian startlets. He wanted something like, “I’ve seen five foot pricks before, but never that wide.” But he got a stare. And that was it.

Now writers aren’t comics with a suitcase of literary barbs at their disposal, but they’re smart enough and vulgar enough to do better than harrumph.

So maybe we should be a little less PC and start talking about the things about writers that we really like or really don’t like. Like whether we would fuck them.

Sure, this is absolutely, in no way, related to their work. It has nothing to do with anything. But the green velvet curtain that surrounds most authors has to be burned, or lowered, or something. Writers are the only celebrities who want to be public and private. Usually ‘cause they’re shy, but who cares about the reason. Bette Davis didn’t hide in the basement until it was time to shoot her scenes. And I’ve seen her on magazine covers. So why not Adele Wiseman? Oh, right. The Canadian Jewish News doesn’t do foldouts.

I think Camilla Gibb is attractive. That has nothing to do with her writing. I’d love to see her pose for The Walrus. If I had a choice between reading one of her short stories or taking a shower with her, I know which one I'd choose. A Gibb ending, for once, that's not ambiguous.

If Dina Pugliese is feeling the pressure to be a Sunshine Girl, then why can’t we say that Marie-Claire Blais would’ve looked good in Heavy Metal? It’s sexist? Well, I’m a straight man. Maybe you’d like to take a bath with David Helwig. That’s fine with me. And take Clark Blaise with you. Just make sure the door’s locked and Bharati’s in a meeting. Wanna meet Stephen Marche at the door coming back from a long jog? Go ahead. It's your fantasy. And there's nothing wrong with it.

OK, so this is sleazy. But was it pure and innocent when Mordecai Richler wrote about Duddy Kravitz’s thickly veined cock? Was it pure when Michael Winter wrote about a Maritime rim job that tasted like a parsley milkshake?

But, oh, it’s not OK to say that Elizabeth Hay would look good in Jimmy Choo kitten heels and a smile.

Canadian writers get off too easy. No one knows who they are, and when they step into the light it’s always to talk to a sexless cipher from the ould country. It’s always to talk to a man who masturbated once, at sixteen, then bit his lip until it bled to pay his penance.

The only reason most Canadians write is because you can’t do it on your back.

If we were less sexually frustrated, we'd be American. But at least Matt Lauer would talk to us.

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