Monday, December 28, 2009

What Margaret Atwood Gave Me For Christmas

With all of my fall term exams graded, I finally have some time to reflect on 2009. Nothing really happened. I taught a bunch of kids to read Teilhard de Chardin, who's only slightly less musty than a pair of Alice Munro's panties--worn on a camping trip (a hot day and a long hike) and somehow left in the tent to be wrapped up and stored in the garage all winter.

I read some Annabel Lyon and some Adele Wiseman. It turns out that the Wiseman was the Lyon, and the Lyon was really a book of Bible verses that someone had chosen to conceal between the covers of The Golden Mean. Then I read The Golden Mean, and I couldn't bring myself to jerk off for close to three weeks.

As David Bergen said re: Lyon's book, "If excellence is our standard, then this novel will certainly flourish." Which recalls Rudy Wiebe's whispered review of Bergen's The Time in Between: "I read Bergen's book, and even an enema couldn't take me out of that magical place--Vietnam."

No, no. Bergen's great. I hear that he's hooked on iCarly right now, but a new book's coming.

Margaret Atwood bought me a baseball cap for Christmas. It's from 1996, and commemorates the Baltimore Orioles' wild card victory. The brim is bent, and the hat looks like it was left in the trunk of someone's car--maybe under a spare tire or a pair of jogging shoes. It was clearly bought at Goodwill.

"Thanks, Margaret," I said. "It's a beautiful hat."

"Do you like it?"

"Yes. It's a child's medium. Just my size."

"You can adjust the plastic strip in the back."

"I'll wear it with pride."

"I was going to get you a copy of The Tipping Point, but the library was all checked out."

"No, no. This is great. Thanks. Enjoy the Louboutins. I tried to get them in your size, but I know that your toes are all crooked. Maybe you can get a pedicure this year."

"Those girls are all Korean."

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Lou Paget Teaches Giller Nominees To Suck Cock

Lou Paget, the Calgary-born sex instructor, was in Toronto last month. I caught her coming out of a Second Cup, and stopped to ask her if it was true that she'd once given a private session to Annabel Lyon that, if true, would completely shatter Lyon's image as a slab of sandstone with librarian ambitions. One colleague told me that, upon meeting Lyon, she was sure that she'd seen a coelacanth imprinted on Lyon's right arm. "What's that, a tattoo?" my friend asked.

"No," Lyon said, "it's a fossil."

Back to Paget. So I'd just asked about Lyon and blow jobs...

"No," Paget said, "I've never met her."


"Yes. Although I did once teach Margaret Atwood to eat pickles. 'Chew, Margaret,' I said. Apparently Norman Levine once tried to get her to pull out all of her teeth, and she's never recovered. But put a butternut squash in front of that woman and you've got yourself a show."

Typical as that conversation was, I asked Paget about another rumour that, in preparation for the big Giller bash of 2009, she'd been flown in on Jack Rabinovitch's twin-engine Cessna to give a private lesson to the short list. I'm very glib about these things: the Giller never has candidates or nominees or thinking human beings with families and fingers that type; it has, simply, a short list. The list changes every year, but it changes in the sense that Tuesday is neither Monday nor Sunday, and Wednesday is neither Thursday nor Friday. There's no fucking difference; every year there's a canoe on the cover of at least one Giller novel, and, if you're like me and you read in bed, like an Alice Munro cocktail party or an evening in the Annex, someone's gonna get raped by the time the night's over.

Someone should write an essay on rape in the Canadian novel. That's a joke, folks. You could cook dinner for Scarborough's promising young athletes on a bonfire of essays on rape in the Canadian novel. But then you'd miss the sheer pleasure of reading said essays, all of them using, in one way or another, the name/word "Portia."

Fuck that. A little too banal for this space. It's about time that someone wrote about being raped in a canoe. Wait, Andrew Pyper did that. By the way, is anything more Canadian than being raped in a canoe? Maybe slitting one's wrist in a cabin built out of Margaret Atwood trade paperbacks and remaindered copies of Survival.

Back to Lou Paget: the woman taught Anne Michaels and Kim Echlin good oral sex technique? Two out of three Giller finalists (female finalists, that is), but not Lyon? The whole thing sounded crazy, and Paget denied it. You can't get someone to admit to something like that. Even though I tend to roll downhill toward impropriety, I still wouldn't tell a stranger on the street that I'd shoved a black rubber dildo in front of Lyon and told her, "Pretend there's an itch at the back of your throat that you just can't scratch."

That said, it was a decent year for the Gillers. The Canadian literary community keeps getting smaller and smaller. And older and older. Lyon, Michaels, and Colin McAdam are like new barns built from old lumber. I keep waiting to meet one of them to ask how they felt when Robert Peel was almost shot.

But if Paget had taught them to suck cock, I wonder what that would have been like. Would they have asked for towels, would they have applied chapstick? I don't know. Would they have giggled and talked about Michael Winter's angled pool cue of a prick? (It's common knowledge in the Canadian literary community that Michael Winter's fucked every Canadian female writer, and that Rex Murphy's watched.)

I'm reminded of the time that Margaret Laurence told an old professor of mine that she wasn't averse to swallowing: "Sometimes," Laurence said, "there's just no place to spit it."

Well, now that we're through, I will say that Fugitive Pieces was terrific, and that Michaels, despite the fact that she looks like Sigourney Weaver auditioning for a Rudy Wiebe novel, is a fine writer. A female Nino Ricci. And I like Nino Ricci.

And I'd let her blow me even if she had a cold sore.
All Posts On This Site Are Intended As Juvenalian Satire. If They Veer Into Horatian Satire, That's OK Too. Just, Please, Don't Take Them Too Seriously. PhD Students Can't Afford Libel Suits. CUPE Doesn't Cover Court Costs.
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