Friday, July 1, 2011

huzzah! 'tis Canada Day!

'Tis summer! 'Tis Canada Day! INTERN is aflood with fond reminiscences of her literary homeland, and wistfulness at her increasing americanization. The Canadian literary scene, which once felt so urgent and intimate to INTERN, feels like that highschool best friend she hasn't spoken to in years. Yet the longer she lives in the big, bad USA, she feels less and less like a Canadian and more and more like an amorphous blob of North Americanness, unmoored and still finding her place.

INTERN knows that approximately six people who read this blog are Canadian. This post is dedicated to them.

You know you are a Can-Lit brat when:

...the most memorable book of your childhood was Le Chandail de Hockey by Roch Carrier. sent your first unsolicited manuscripts to Annick, Coach House, and Arsenal Pulp Press, and got at least one nice hand-written note back as a rejection letter.

...the first literary journals you read/published in were subTerrain, Contemporary Verse II, and West Coast Line. read The Globe and Mail every day for years and got irrationally upset when they changed their font. get irrationally upset when people mistakenly assume a Canadian author is actually American. are aware of Margaret Atwood's doings the way some people are aware of Lady Gaga's—she's just permanently on your radar.

...the characters in your stories write cheques and visit their neighbours. get irrationally upset when blogger underlines the word "neighbours" in red to indicate a spelling error. looked forward to the Word on the Street festival more fervently than you looked forward to Christmas. can rattle off the names of Canadian authors like some sort of catechism: bill bissett, Guy Gavriel Kay, Jane Urquhart...

...when you go to a reading by a Canadian author (almost any Canadian author), and the reading is in the US, and go up and talk to her afterwards, it will turn out that you have at least a dozen Canadian writer-friends in common, and she will invite you out for a post-reading beer or three.

...the literary scene in the US seems so enormous and unwieldly in comparison that you despair of ever getting a grasp on it. Whereas in Canada, you feel like you can actually keep up on all things literary—or many things, anyway.

...your mom still bugs you to apply for a residency at the Berton House. Yes, it's in the Yukon. Does your mother really want you to get eaten alive by bears in the Yukon while toiling over the Great Canadian Novel? Yes, yes she does.

INTERN invites Canadian and ex-Canadian readers to add to this list in the comments.


  1. I'm English. I got nothing, but Happy Canada Day!

  2. I'm one of your six Canadian readers, I guess. Didn't know you were an ex-pat! +1

  3. *salutes* Happy Canada day from a fellow ex pat, stranded in Europe.

  4. Happy Canada Day from the UK! would you like to borrow my spell chequer?

  5. I'm Canadian too! A west-coaster.

    These two made me laugh:

    ...the characters in your stories write cheques and visit their neighbours. get irrationally upset when blogger underlines the word "neighbours" in red to indicate a spelling error.

    I've had a number of American CP's and they constantly highlight words I've spelled *wrong*... so I just sigh and politely ignore my all-knowing USA CP *neighbours*.

    Happy Canada Day!

  6. Yay Canada! Though, to be fair, I'm really finding Atwood a bit annoying. The remote autograph machine is a little bit horrible. But that sentiment itself is pretty Canadian.

  7. Jack Whyte, Linwood Barclay, Lawrence Hill.... Count me in!

  8. I'm sure there are more than six of us!

    To add to your list, how about: "You get irrationally excited when an American book mentions a Canadian place, as if you need your existence confirmed in print."

  9. Oooh! Ooh! I'm Canadian! How about:

    "You continuously drop anciently Canadian words, like chesterfield, ski-doo and eh."

  10. Ever read the comic Hark A Vagrant by Kate Beaton? She is Canadian and has some great comics about Canada:

  11. Only one thing to say:

    Robertson Davies.

  12. Oh, Canada! Thanks for posting this! *proud to be Canadian, and have the maple leaf tattoo to prove it ;)*

  13. I'm one of your Canadian followers, too. Vancouver Island for me. Oh, but INTERN, you forgot the agents: Bukowski, Helen Heller, Anne McDermid, Beverley Slopen, Carolyn Swayze, and all the heavy hitters at Westwood - Jackie Kaiser, Hillary Mantel, et al. Rejected by all. But I'm Canadian. I won't emote all over you.

  14. how embarrassing that I completely get this list... (whistles and looks away)

  15. Great post! I can so relate to many of these on your list, especially #2. You can add Penguin Canada to that one! :-)

    Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
    bestselling Canadian author

  16. Don't forget yelling at the car radio when you disagree with the panelists on 'Canada Reads'.

    Happy Independence Day from up here in Lotusland!

  17. . . . you get irrationally upset when Americans at a fourth of July fireworks show cheer when Summer of '69 comes on over the PA system.

  18. I swoon at the mention of Guy Gavriel Kay. I was ushered into teenagehood on a wave of Fionavar dreamings.

    Many smiles over this post.


    A fellow lover of the letter "u."

  19. I am not Canadian, though I've been living near Vancouver for the past four years and it's funny how many of these apply. I believe "Le Chandail de Hockey" was the first book I read when I arrived. I confuse myself by using both American and Canadian spelling of words. I also died inside a little last year when I missed Word on the Street.

    Love your blog, and hope to become Canadian soon.