Friday, January 02, 2009

Rosenblum on the Salon des Refuses

Rebecca Rosenblum has a lengthy and, as always, interesting post over at her blog Rose-coloured on the Penguin Book of Canadian Short Stories and the Salon des Refuses. She has, over the past few months, read the tome cover-to-cover, probably one of only a handful to do so. As we work late to put to bed, finally, the latest issue of CNQ -- our combined 40th Anniversary and 75th issue -- it's worth considering and reconsidering the last one -- now completely sold out.

A taste of her much longer, and very considered, response:

My relationship with this book is *intense*--I read it pretty steadily, if not quickly, for over a month, sprawling by a day into a second calendar year. The relationship is pretty physical, too; since my reading is done in myriad locales and often in transit, I've been carrying this book on my person quite a bit. Once it's on you, you don't forget about the PBCSS, for though the kitchen scale says it weights only two pounds, I suspect strongly that my kitchen scale is broken and it weighs six or seven.

Oh, it's been epic, the affair of PBCSS and I: I ordered the first copy from the library, got curry on the pages, took it on a Via train, a Greyhound bus, several Go trains and busses, and more TTC subways, streetcars and busses than you can imagine. Then the library recalled the book, I ordered a new copy, got chocolate on the pages, got back on the trains and busses. To impress a writer I admire, I carried the anthology (and many other things) down 22 flights of stairs and across town. I read it in a bar, in bed and at my desk; I told everyone I was reading it (and no one cared). I used it to flatten wrinkles when I was too lazy to iron, to start a conversation and to end one.

And now I win, because I've read it all and I can STOP CARRYING IT AROUND.

Actually, I won by reading. I have no regrets--the PBCSS is not pure pleasure, but the vast majority of the stories contained therein *are* pleasures, and I really enjoyed reading them, even when my wrists were throbbing from holding the damn thing upright.

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