Monday, April 16, 2007

Yann Martel's Stillness

Oy vey! Yann Martel is on a crusade to make writers look like a bunch of insufferable righteous wankers. (He might just be right, but that's another matter.) Right target, wrong weapon, Martel. I'd say more about this, but Nathan Whitlock's done such a bust-up job, I'll just send you his way.

I'll just add that it's a lovely irony for Martel to pick Tolstoy's Ivan Ilich as his first gift to Harper. A great book to be sure, but Tolstoy? A nobleman who had no regard for culture and progress, hated literary society, and started his own Christian cult? Maybe not the best courier for Martel's message. Harper might like to send Yann a biography of Tolstoy as his response... Then again, Leo was known for his philanthropic charity--which is precisely what one can imagine Harper suggesting as the proper way for artists to get paid. Way to go, Yann!

Update: There's a pretty lively discussion about this over at Bookninja. Is Harper an undesireable? Yes. Should we vote him and his gang of neo-liberal rednecks out of office? Yes. Does that make Martel's project any less irritating? No.

As I wrote in my post about Margaret Atwood's similar op/ed, while there's no doubt that arts funding isn't a big priority for Steve-o, it's factually inaccurate to say that he's conducting any kind of assault on it.

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