GOD HELP ME
Since I’m pretty sure I’m the anonymous “writer-friend” Nathan Whitlock mentions in “The Not-Quite Novel” (Issue 34), I feel the need to clarify something. Literary fiction boasts a breadth that allows for a variety of styles. Steven Galloway understands this, is comfortable in his own style, and in the case of his rebuttal to Barbara Kay, is generous enough to come to the defense of writers who don’t share his aesthetics. I find it admirable and refreshing that Galloway is not driven by self-preservation, narrow-mindedness or an elitist need to set himself above all others, and feel more than a bit annoyed that Whitlock chose to characterize this as a fault. (Full disclosure: I’m friends with Steven Galloway, Nathan Whitlock and James Grainger. God help me.)
—Nancy Lee (online)
Despite your honest intention to shed light on the cruelty of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games (“People the Vancouver Olympic Committee Doesn’t Want You to Meet,” Issue 34), I was greatly disappointed by the superficiality of this piece. Not only is the Downtown Eastside situation more complex than illustrated—the dilemma of the Vancouver Olympic Games (and of many Olympics that came before it) cannot simply be described as an acute social or housing rights matter—but the residents pictured were denied the one thing that could have provided them with the pride that was alluded to in your article: a voice.
I greatly enjoyed Jennifer Osborne’s photo essay on the issues surrounding the Vancouver Olympics—great photography and a touching idea to centre on just a handful of the unfortunate people living in the Downtown Eastside. It definitely changed my perspective on how these Games can affect people’s lives both negatively and positively. This is a great, intimate way to reveal some unknown truths, and bring this sad reality home to many people who are involved in the Olympics.
HOW MUCH WORSE?
I found the cover story “A More Perfect Union” (Issue 34) extremely thought-provoking. At first I opposed the idea of Canada becoming one with the United States; my immediate thoughts about our current relationship always involve us being their resource slaves and them influencing us to aspire to the shallow lives of their rich and famous. But Les Horswill made some interesting and valid arguments, making me realize the possible benefits of such a union. Perhaps if the Americans shared ownership of our precious water, oil, forests and other valuable, life-sustaining resources, they would employ foresight to their exploitation and practice more environmental stewardship. It seems risky, but since we are shipping everything down there anyways, how much worse could it get?
Being the typical Canadian that I am, I kept looking for the punch line when reading Les Horswill’s “A More Perfect Union.” Where were his facts on the historic crimes of America? You just have a look at the tar sands in Alberta and see for yourself how lovingly the United States would treat this country. I’ve lived in Europe and the US, and without a single doubt, as a proud Canadian, I would much rather have Europe as a neighbour than the United States. Horswill calls Bush rude. Was that his punch line? Or was the punch line the idea of an expanded US Federal Reserve? There are just so many to choose from.
I enjoyed John Semley’s article “Generation Geek” (Issue 34). For those of us who live on the periphery of mainstream culture, it’s not every day that we get to see our superhero obsessions receive positive attention from a different cultural community. For years we have been seen as the last social group at whom it is acceptable to poke fun. It’s nice to know that we have our “poseurs” now as well. I guess this is our revenge of the nerds.
A.M. Hinton’s “My Choice” (Issue 34) was riveting. At first I was amazed the author decided to use a pseudonym, but after finishing the text, I realized that perhaps her anonymity helps give a collective voice to women who face this difficult decision. Hinton gave me answers when I wasn’t actively seeking them. Two years ago, I had an abortion and live with the consequences of self-reproach. I never thought I had made the right decision. However, it was Hinton’s work in locating and interviewing women that made me realize just how differently every woman handles this situation. I just needed to be honest with myself and accept the decision that I had made. Most unexpectedly, Hinton’s self-discovery eased the pain that I go through every day. It also taught me that I wasn’t alone, and that I wasn’t just another statistic.
—Shelley Porcheron McGill
I was particularly taken with the article “My Choice.” I’ve read many opinion and first-person pieces on the subject of abortion, but none that were so concise and accessible, yet haunting. The article was well written, tightly focused and covered a lot of history—of both the internal and external kind—in four pages. I would have liked to know how she proceeded with her relationship; though it’s not my business, curiosity about her decision-making process and the effects of such revelations on a partnership left me wishing the article was one paragraph longer.