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Sabbath Day: Canada

July 3, 2015

My last sabbath day, last Thursday, was the last day of school for my son. In celebration, he and his mother headed to Canada for the Montreal Jazz Festival. They enjoyed a long weekend of farm-fresh food, gourmet cheese, beach days, water parks, and really good music. In honor of their trip, I decided to read something Canadian. By chance, or design, yesterday (July 1) was also Canada Day. “I love when a plan comes together.”

Without question, the Canadian of the moment is Naomi Klein, social movement animator and author of some of my favorite books: No Logo, which served as a guide to early globalism; The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, a description of contemporary opportunistic, anti-social change; and the book of the year, This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. the Climate. The later came out the same week as the People’s Climate March last September. It was announced just this week that Klein has been invited by Pope Francis to participate in a high level environmental conference at the Vatican. Follow that story.

naomi-klein

I did not try to re-read Klein this week. Rather, I had on my shelf an unread copy of Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin, for which she was awarded the Man Booker Prize in 2000. It is a long book. In fact, a book within a book. At the end of this week I am only half-way through. Perhaps over the holiday weekend…

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I have read Atwood for a long time, ever since my encounter with The Handmaid’s Tale (1986) in college. Readers of my blog will recall that I have recently finished two volumes of her Madd-Addam trilogy.  

Realizing I would not finish The Blind Assassin, I was fortunate enough to come upon a used copy of Vintage Munro. I had never read Ontario born Alice Munro – “master of the contemporary short story” – but knew she had won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2013. The Prize committee said that “Munro is often able to say more in thirty pages that an ordinary novelist is capable of in three hundred.” Her prose is devastatingly honest and painful, but revelatory and, in the words of the committee, “tender.” This slim volume, published on the occasion of the award, and including the Nobel Prize Presentation Speech, has wet my appetite. And that, after all, is the greatest gift of this year of reading multi-national literature.

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Finished this day with good friends for dinner and fireworks.

Happy and restful sabbath. Happy and reflective fourth.

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