October 01, 2013
Usually at the beginning of the semester a hand shoots up and someone asks why there aren’t any women writers in the course. I say I don’t love women writers enough to teach them, if you want women writers go down the hall. What I teach is guys. Serious heterosexual guys. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chekhov, Tolstoy. Real guy-guys. Henry Miller. Philip Roth.
Dryly humored and notoriously petulant, as well as a crashing bore on the topic of his many ex-wives, Gilmour has never been in danger of being dubbed “Canada’s Most Lovable Writer.” It’s easy to imagine him uttering his now notorious “racist, sexist, homophobic” words through his familiar perma-smirk, perhaps to amuse himself while submitting to the time-wasting questions of a female reporter who fell below his “boinkability” standards.
Need I tell you that calls for Gilmour’s dismissal came thick and fast? Or that the most “offensive” statement he made last week was his defensive, semi-sucky “apology”?
Despite the stale Marxist jargon being pitched in Gilmour’s general direction, this “controversy” reveals less about “patriarchy” than it does about parochialism.
Never mind the proverbial “small stakes” of academia. There really is no puny, pointless “controversy” quite like a Canadian one.
Whereas British or American politicians can at least be relied upon to indulge in some ill-advised screwing once in a while, the closest Canada’s had to a sex scandal in recent memory involved the cabinet minister who left his briefcase on his girlfriend’s coffee table and no, I’m not joking.
Meanwhile, the Gilmour Affair is at least slightly more entertaining than our last literary cause cÃ©lÃ¨bre, when a foreign Giller Prize juror joked about the overstock of “dreadful” Canadian novels comprised mostly of “flashbacks to Granny’s youth in the Ukraine or whatever,” and Noah Richler, son of novelist Mordecai (and who normally presents himself in public as a world-traveling gourmand) responded with a wounded, humorless word-fart in the pages of the nation’s paper of record.
(As you had guessed, the CanLit crowd is more inbred that the mythical “hillbillies” who populate their treasured anti-American fever dreams.)
At one of Lord Black’s London dinner parties, diplomat (!) Daniel Bernard famously called Israel a “shitty little country,” a remark Lady Black duly reported and condemned in the Daily Telegraph. Although my fellow Canadian, the former Barbara Amiel, is conventionally patriotic, I wonder if she’d agree with me that at times like this, that inelegant phrase is a pretty apt description of “our home and native land.”