The Walrus Blog

Monthly Archive: May 2007

On Chesil Beach

It always takes long to come to what you have to say,
you have to sweep this stretch of land up around your feet
and point to the signs, pleat whole histories with pins in your mouth
and guess at the fall of words.
– Dionne Brand, “Land to Light On”

Ian McEwan is a master prose stylist, a brilliant and dutiful researcher, and he has a spring-like wit. Interviewing him –- as part of the Harbourfront Centre’s International Festival of Authors –- was both a privilege and a daunting challenge. Though gracious, he is a man who would prefer, I sensed, not to suffer fools at all.

(Click Here to view a video podcast of the interview)

Our topic was On Chesil Beach (published by Knopf Canada), McEwan’s most recent novel and a book of near-perfect construction and organization: five chapters of roughly equal size, each finely calibrated, each sentence carefully crafted, and the whole so fluid that I imagined a “quick write.” While McEwan’s hope, he said, was to produce a novel that could be read in one sitting, I took two and would recommend not rushing. A quick read and you might miss some of McEwan’s delicious humour and/or some of the many subtle clues he drops along the way. (more…)

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There’s something unseemly and just a little ridiculous about politicians worming their way into pop culture, and something equally unseemly and ridiculous when they attempt to exploit pop culture for political ends. Small wonder, then, that hockey commentators are readjusting their toupees over the decision by Jack Layton, Stéphane Dion, Gilles Duceppe, and their band of twitted MPs to criticize Hockey Canada for selecting Shane Doan as the captain of our World Championship squad. Doan, those of us who follow tempests in sporting teapots will know, was investigated for allegedly calling a Québécois linesman a “fucking Frenchman” during a Phoenix Coyotes game in Montreal against the Canadiens in 2005.

There are several ways in which this criticism is wrongheaded: For one, Doan, a devout Christian, is by all accounts one of the nicest and most respectful players in hockey. And he was cleared by an NHL investigation after testifying that he had said to a teammate only that they should expect biased calls from four French referees in Montreal. (more…)

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