Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Yann Martel's War

Yann Martel's serial drama What Is Stephen Harper Reading? has been going on for, well, ages, it seems, and it never fails to bring a smile to my face. Often, the smile is brought on by the sheer audacity of this writer to be so openly critical of our Prime Minister - for example,  Animal Farm, Julius Caesar, even Martel's own book version of the website. Sometimes I smile because I sense that he is genuine about his recommendation and wants to create a connection, a dialogue, something, anything, to spark the PM's interest - some sign that the PM responds to his fellow Canadians with an open ear. This has yet to happen - yet Martel remains hopeful, writing month after month, always as though he is returning a letter rather than knowing that he will not elicit a response. And this determination, this sheer dedication to his project - which, I am sure, he never imagined would carry on for so long - makes me smile once again.

Today, I am smiling because I feel the starstruck awe that Martel felt upon receiving a short note from President Obama, who enjoyed Life of Pi so much that he felt compelled to write the author a note to say so - along with two lines of "insightful analysis". Yann Martel is an extremely talented creative writer; there's a possibility that he's creating a character that is awestruck in order to attain that much-sought after response from his own government leader. But I don't mind. The letters are near-perfect each time, both in selection and explanation. And for the next four months, while Martel is travelling to promote Beatrice & Virgil, he is recruiting fellow authors to pick up the mantel. It promises to be interesting reading, to be sure, and is guaranteed to make me smile.

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