Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Typical Canadian Love Scene

Robert Lecker's based his life on the notion/fact/reality that a Canadian book which goes over the counter 5,000 times is a true-blood best-seller. Five. Thousand. Gordon Ramsay's Fucking Famous Kitchen Mosaics sold more copies.

Being born in Canada's the worst thing that could happen to a writer or artist. Charlie Pachter does some really nice stuff with the moose, but around the world that's seen with the same grace as stars-and-stripes-rimmed sunglasses.

It's worse for a writer. Thank god I don't write fiction, because I'd start looking for heavier and heavier bar bells to lift. A friend wanted to write a book about a Canadian comedy writer trying to pinball his way through the CBC ranks in the late-'70s. It was a What Makes Sammy Run kind of thing. He showed it to me, and it was very funny. "It's good," I said, "but you can't have all these Tommy Douglas gags. OK, so maybe one James Cross joke is fine, but you've got a whole chapter on Pierre Laporte. How do you think that'll play in Tennessee?"

"I don't know," he said. "I think they'll love it. I hear Bourassa's huge down there."

But no one was interested. Because Americans don't care about the CBC; they don't know what the hell it is. But show a guy screwing around MGM and you've got a book everyone understands. So the question becomes Why represent Canada in Canadian fiction? To aspire to a readership that could fit on a single subway car? No thanks.

That's why I have so much respect for Doug Coupland. I don't even really like his writing. He's good--I'm not criticizing his talent. (I don't live in the basement, so it's not my taste.) Yet he's actually been published. How? God only knows. I'm sure his father's an MP--maybe a senator. He could know Bennett Cerf's grandson. He's one Canadian writer who's deviated from the traditional way of depicting Canadian lust.

Here's how it's always been.

[A man named John and a woman named Kate are floating down a river in a canoe. They beach the canoe, get out, and sit on the 'bank.]

John: My father wants me to go into the family business. "Times are changing, Dad," I told him. You want to tell me the last time you bought a sugar beet? Why can't we grow apples? Pears?

Kate: My mother wants me to become a teacher. That's fine. You meet a lot of nice boys. But I'm such a fantastic writer and so fine at English. Mr MacArthur telled me so right after he boughted me that Ten-E-son. Oh, maybe it was because I just devoured books. First I'd read one, then another, then another. OK--so I've read three. But, clearly, I have talent. Maybe I should run away. That's worked. I'm neurotic, bland, and self-involved, right? I could do it. Remember when I almost got raped by that vacuum salesman?

John: Ms Christian said it was the best show and tell she'd ever seen.

Kate: I've never gotten over that. I could write...

John: I'm torn between the farm and the city. But I'm tired of wearing jeans.

Kate: That's nothing. I have a terrible family secret that I've been hiding all my life.

John: Who doesn't.

Kate: Really?

John: Sure.

Kate: I'll guess yours if you guess--.

John: Raped by a family member?

Kate: Be more specific.

John: The vacuum--

Kate: He wasn't a relation.

John: Your uncle?

Kate: Yeah, but that's not the one I'm thinking of.

John: ...Your father.

Kate: You cheated!

John: Hey! Hey!...I just watched.

Kate: Fine. Now it's my turn. Does it have anything to do with an illegitimate child?

John: No clues.

Kate: Were you conceived out of wedlock?

John: Damn! But that was easy! How'd you know?

Kate: I've always noticed a far-away look in your mother's eyes.

John: Yeah. Well, what do you want to do now?

Kate: I don't know. Screw?

John: OK. But let's wait a couple of minutes; I think it's about to start raining. And there was a swan that we passed a few yards back. Wait for it to dive or fly away or something.

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