Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Heeeere's Jackie ...

Ray Smith's The Flush of Victory: Jack Bottomly Among the Virgins, came back from the printer yesterday, and is set to be unleashed on the world. A pseudo-Canadian espionage farce, it has been waiting to be published for close to 30 years. When I called Ray today, he was out on the porch, waiting for it to arrive. I'm quite excited, and proud, to finally be able to give it to him.

It should not have taken so long. Bottomly is perhaps the most despicable anti-hero in Canadian literature -- sexist, loutish, conniving, drunken, immoral, insulting, depraved, thieving, lazy, and just about anything else you might care to add -- but there's more to him than this. His most compelling virtues: he is never boring, often terribly funny, and a sharp eyed critic. He -- and Smith, through him -- have targeted many of Canadians most cherished assumptions: that we are peace-loving and open-minded prominent among them. "Scratch a Canadian," Bottomly tells a Swedish banker he's trying to swindle, "You'll find a lout." A lot of people might disagree with him, but after reading this book it might prove difficult not to add loutish-ness to the list of Canadian national characteristics.

So, why did The Flush of Victory take so long to get published? From what I gather, because the handful of publishers who saw it before me feared it would give too much offense. I've worried for a few months now about the reception this book will receive. There will be those who will miss the humour, the satire, and the rather pointed barbs. There's nothing I can do about this.

As a friend of mine said recenty, "Bottomly's a crude piece of work ... but you would have to be an idiot to find him offensive." That there will be idiots out there, I'm quite certain, but it is certainly time to stop worrying about them.

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