Lost among the general brouhaha about Mr. Obama mentioning that a good-looking woman was indeed a good-looking woman, that poor Canada has taken its $300,000 annual grant and run from the UN council to combat drought in Africa, becoming the only country in the world not in it, apparently satisfied that it has enough water to supply the whole world itself so why should they help those who don’t, that North Korea threatens to attack the USA (not to mention South Korea) at a time when it gets most of its scarce food as a gift from increasingly unhappy China, that that great American film genre, the Western, is finding new relevance in Texas and Colorado as the rule of the gun wipes out the rule of the law, that three prominent New York politicians have been caught red-handed trying to buy their way into a mayoral candidacy, and that Pierre Trudeau’s late-in-life mistress, Mme Coyne, is one of the six candidates still standing in the race to become head of he Liberal Party of Canada, thus confronting head-on Pierre’s son Justin, who is going to win, and then will have to attempt to explain how he understand his familial relationship to Mme Coyne and her daughter, who is also Justin’s father’s daughter.
And all this in the straight-laced true north strong and free. As stated above lost in all these Dada developments is the fact that the real excitement in the spring is sports. The baseball season has started, the basketball season is wrapping up its March madness – many people hope that Wichita State will win – and the professionals in both basketball and hockey are approaching the only weeks that really count. Even soccer has begun to roll, at least in those places where all eyes will be on Rio about a year from now. Not to mention curling. It’s a great time to to pour yourself an Augustinerbräu or a Schneider Weisse, find yourself a place in the sun under the flowering cherry (or chestnut) trees, if you are really lucky in the Hirschgarten, and watch Bayern München humiliate their opponents (9-0 against poor Hamburg), the Habs, Jets, Senators and Canucks make a run for it, the Blue Jays and Cubs start off strong, and the Heat show what heat is. Go for it!No Comments
It’s not so easy to explain to outsiders why Canada has become such a different place from the United States in the last couple of decades, but the pause that was taken in the Ottawa-Toronto hockey Game last evening in toronto would be a good place to start. News had come through that Stompin Tom Connors had died and that was reason enough to stop playing hockey and play aloud one of the songs that Stompin Tom had written in his 50 years of singing that was probably better known in Canada than the national anthem : The Hockey Song. As the deep-throated version of “The good old hockey game, it’s the best game you can name” rumbled out over the jammed arena, most people stood up silently to pay tribute to a figure who will be the last of his kind.
He was 77 but almost everyone was shocked to find out he had become mortal so fast; his songs dealt with the whole country – even French Quebec in his sparkling “Susanne de Lafayette” , dealing with the deportations of the Acadians to Louisiana – and did not come with a best before shelf time. My brother Doug says that one of his aboriginal Nuuchalnuut friends from the remote west coast of Vancouver Island had only ever spoken positively about one “Canadian” entertainer who sang about the things that also defined much of his own life – hard work in hard places: “Tillsonburg, my back still hurts when I hear its name, “Sudbury Saturday Night”, “Bud the Spud” who was”flying down the 401 smilin with the best damn spuds cause they’re from Prince Edward Island” and outwitting the Ontario Provincial Police to get them safe to Toronto, “Red River Jane”, “Okanagan Okee” and “A real Canadian Girl” who could do things the Yanks never dreamed of: drinking, fighting, smoking, dancing, playing the guitar, indulging in all those pleasures that political correctness crowd has deemed unworthy of sanctioning. Tom spent his early years criss-crossing the country from Saint John’s to Victoria to Yukon, picking up free beers and then some dollars in bars for singing his songs before moving along to write new ones about the place he had just been. He spent the later ones making 50 albums of them. Here is the last thing he wrote, to be opened only after his death.
I want all my fans, past, present, or future, to know that without you, there would have not been any Stompin’ Tom. It was a long hard bumpy road, but this great country kept me inspired with its beauty, character, and spirit, driving me to keep marching on and devoted to sing about its people and places that make Canada the greatest country in the world.I must now pass the torch, to all of you, to help keep the Maple Leaf flying high, and be the Patriot Canada needs now and in the future. I humbly thank you all, one last time, for allowing me in your homes, I hope I continue to bring a little bit of cheer into your lives from the work I have done.
Sincerely,Your Friend always,
Stompin’ Tom Connors1 Comment
Italy is the third-largest economic power in Europe, and controls what is surely one of the most spectacular geographical spaces in existence. It has at least two of the world’s most splendid cities – Venice and Rome can’t be denied that, and who would exclude Florence – and it has a dominant place in the development of western art, and a very prominent one in literature art, and culture in general. So what the hell is going on as it appeared to be finally climbing out of a disastrous interlude and instead chooses to sink further into a buffoonish and ever-deepening ing morass of self-destructive behaviour. Now it is of course true that in the miserable European performances that culminated in World War Two, other countries outdid Italy in barbarous behaviour. Germany leads that pack, but also is the one that has taken the most serious consequences of such thuggish national behaviour to heart and is anything but a clownish vulgar society these days. But that can’t be said of its splendidly-endowed southern neighbour Italy, which seems intent in proving that democracy is a political system ill-equipped to deal with serious problems, both of an economic and moral nature.
How else explain that an election that was supposed to finally finish off a corrupt and thuggish political generation offering bizarre governmental behaviour, and come up with one offering some stability and rational decision-making at the top should result in a potential coalition run by a professional clown and another comic who was assumed to be a washed-up political and moral one? And yet that is what they came up with, the people who spoke through their votes. It is one thing for Icelanders to vote into power a true clown as the mayor of Reykjavik in order to show their disdain for a simple-minded government that set into motion an economic fiasco. (He turned out to be a pretty good mayor). But it is quite another to offer power to two clowns to take control of a relatively major economic and even military power, one working from an actual circus background and the other from a circus government that he had indeed formed as acircus of a government. These two working together have no chance to rescue a collapsing economy and even social framework by bringing in laws to confront chaos. These guys thrive on the comedy of chaos. So keep posted annd see what happens when Italians will be forced to vote yet again. Better luck next time..1 Comment
“Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.” — Herman Melville
The short response to the question above is: Governor Paul LePage and the members of Maine’s Tea Party. They personify the political dynamics in Maine that led to the election of a governor who is now doing serious long-term damage to not only the people of the state. but also to the political culture of the state.
Lepage’s 2010 election was the result of the support of Maine’s Tea Party and, Maine’s historic pride in being strongly ‘independent.’ LePage garnered less than 40% of the vote in his election but since the majority of the vote was split between Independent and Democratic candidates, it was enough. So the people of Maine have a governor, elected by 38% of the voters, who is committed to an “ideology” created by Tea Party fanatics who have a slim grip on cause and effect reality and a demonstrated non-existent learning curve.
Among LePage’s antics:
- removing serious historic works of art depicting workers from the states Department of Labor building because of a written complaint from a “secret admirer” and complaints from unnamed business owners. Among the inflammatory works was one portraying Rosie the Riveter;
- promising that when elected he would “tell Obama to go to hell” ;
hiring his wet-between-the-ears 22 year-old daughter to a $41,000 job with $15,000 worth of benefits AND a $10,000 housing allowance while she lived in the Governor’s mansion;
hiring his brother-in-law to a $68,000 state job;
- resisting the banning of BPA in baby bottle and other plastic containers because heating up plastic bottles only causes it to “give off a chemical similar to estrogen. So the worst case is some women may have little beards…”
- pushing legislation that would allow public funding of religious schools despite state constitutional issues;
- and, offending many with his characterization of the Supreme Court decision to allow the Affordable Care Act to proceed as a decision that “has made America less free. We the people have been told there is no choice. You must buy health insurance or pay the new Gestapo — the I.R.S.”;
He did a sort-of apology for the use of the term “Gestapo”
According to a recent report in the Boson Globe, he has joined those Republican governors who refuse to accept federal funding for an expansion of Medicaid; an expansion that would provide medical care to a significant number of uninsured citizens of Maine. This most recent step by LePage plays to his base of Tea Party fanatics in a state in which – unlike most states – unemployment is growing.
LePage’s leadership has resulted in Maine’s ranking last among all states in personal income growth and – again, according to the Globe – Maine’s median income is less than $48,000 and 27% of the state’s residents are already enrolled in Medicaid – compared to the national average of 20%.
The Globe provided examples of those who will lose benefits due to LePage’s actions and it is not pretty. The victims are the usual mix of the elderly, the uninsured seriously ill who cannot afford insurance, the working poor, etc. .
So one result of the Maine commitment to its treasured image of being populated by “rugged Independents,” is a political system that has allowed only 38% of the population to elect a Governor of tremendous mediocrity – even crass stupidity. It is their democracy and they can cherish it, but they will pay for this in many ways that will show up in very human terms while the Tea Party continues to work against their fellow citizens.No Comments
The United States Senate, once known as “the world’s greatest deliberative body”, has become a stage for narcissistic Republican poseurs and clowns. The Senate Armed Services Committee hearings on former Senator Chuck Hagel’s nomination as Secretary of Defense has produced one of the most embarrassing episodes in the ongoing saga of the dumbing down of the Republican Party.
The rookie, Deb Fisher, a Sarah Palin pal from Nebraska who finds Hagel; “too extreme – far to the left of Obama” – whatever that means.. (Her refusal to refer to “President” Obama a pathetic reminder of her connections to the Nebraska Tea Party). That Hagel had the good sense to endorse her opponent, Bob Kerrey, in her election campaign apparently fueled her ire but so what? This is about the Secretary of Defense not about Fisher’s feelings.
Noted global warming denier and biblical scholar Senator James Inhofe (R from Oklahoma) found that Hagel was an “appeaser” without specifying why other than to refer to a statement by the Iranian Foreign Minister describing Hagel as someone with whom they might be able to talk.
Noted Chicken Hawk Saxby Chambliss, Republican Senator from Georgia and previously a slanderer of Senator Tammy Baldwin who had lost both legs piloting a Blackhawk helicopter in Iraq, found that Hagel’s commitment to the concept of international negotiation was really simply a commitment to “appeasement” – again, whatever that means.
Senate newcomer and Tea Party pet Ted Cruz of Texas decided to become the reincarnation of Joe McCarthy, raising the suspicion that Hagel has been paid by enemies of the United States for speeches, questioning the patriotism of a battlefield decorated marine with a mythical list hidden away in his pocket.
But the main attractions in the early hearings – before Inhofe and Cruz pushed the process over the Crazy Cliff – were Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. Noted poor loserJohn McCain got all red-faced with anger when Hagel refused to concede that McCain had been right in his support of the Iraq War “surge”, the grand strategy that delayed the inevitable U.S. withdrawal from a war that almost no one ended up supporting. His emotional, post-adolescent demand that Hagel agree that McCain was right and Hagel wrong on the surge was a sad display by a once admired Senator known now chiefly for his unwillingness to accept that he lost an election.
As for Senator Graham, what can be said about his obsession that Hagel is soft on support for Israel, or that he once said “the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here, I’m not an Israeli Senator I’m a US Senator, this pressure makes us do dumb things at times”? Or that he is somehow responsible for telling us what went wrong with Benghazi?
It is depressing enough to see a major political party sink into a cesspool of gratuitous innuendo verging on slander without watching the national press serve as a largely unquestioning conduit of cheap shots, distortions and outright lies. Where is Edward R. Murrow when we need him?
How long will we have to avoid the Sunday talk shows as they wheel in McCain so they can help him lick his wounds from a defeat that is now 5 years old? Or watch the likes of Dick Gregory sidle up to Lindsey Graham without calling him on what has become a bizarre personal vendetta against one of the few Republican Senators to have had the good sense and political courage to admit that President George W. Bush’s Iraq war turned out to be a bad idea, poorly implemented.
As for the soft on Israel charge? Do we elect Senators to act in the national interests of the United States or of Israel? When they come in conflict – which they occasionally do – can we have an adult conversation in the press – as they do in the Israeli press? Or do we continue to put up with a national press unable or unwilling to consider the real implications of blindly following the lead of a foreign leader like Benjamin Netanyahu?
As the Republican Party moves toward reconsidering their “message” after a serious defeat at the polls last November, will they finally – at long last – have the decency to accept that President Obama is indeed the President and that the American people expect them to behave with respect to the office and to the national interest?1 Comment
So no less than four films being considered for Best Film at the Oscara supposedly portray US history. One of them is relatively harmless. “Lincoln” is probably going to win everything because it does not, as far as any layman can tell, falsify history in any kind of serious way and features enough bearded men to make old testament prophets feel jealous. And it has a very Lincoln-looking British actor, no doubt thanks to terrific makeup help, who has the wrong accent but is as good at portraying a decent common man who acted well under pressure (Bob Newhart called this “The humble bit”), as were Raymond Massey – also a foreigner – Henry Fonda and others who have portrayed Honest Abe in the past. So we can give this a pass on the honest history front, although Spielberg once again demonstrates his fascination with brutal hand to hand combat and dead soldiers, though not at the level of “Saving Private Ryan”.
But what should we make of “Zero Dark Thirty” , supposedly a factual presentation of the CIA’s role in the assassination of bin Laden, or Ben Affleck’s “Argo”, another alleged representation of actual CIA operations. And there is no doubt that “Argo” is an exciting film, especially in the opening scenes depicting the attack on the US embassy in Teheran. But what’s going on? Since when do films get such serious consideration that are made with government support and obvious comic-book plots - a CIA female warrior in one, and a devil of a fearless handsome CIA agent in the other carry out awesomely dangerous missions for good old Uncle Sam – and against all odds succeed. If they didn’t do that, there would certainly not be a film. The first has been attacked on the US Senate floor, by senators who actually personally know how torture functions, since the film seems to suggest that torture by US agents actually led to the discovery of the whereabouts of bin Laden. From all accounts this is not true, and the very suggestion that it is acceptable for the US to gather information in this way, is more than offensive for those who suffered under such methods.
And “Argo” is “so full of bullshit it might as well have been a Charlie’s Angels episode” to quote Steve Burgess. The heroic people who really risked their lives and those of their families in rescuing those US diplomats who managed to escape the chaos in the attack on the US embassy in Teheran , were of course the ambassador and the attache of Canada, who died last week. They did what the diplomats of no other country – including some of the US’ supposed closest allies like the UK – were unwilling to do: risk their own lives to save those of US colleagues. In real life the US citizens were hidden in two different Canadian diplomatic residences for a lengthy period before they were smuggled out, perhaps even with some input from the CIA operative who is made the hero of “Argo”: Affleck directing Affleck in the role. One of these Canadian diplomats, the Ambassador, actually appears fleetingly in the film, but does not seem very important; the other is never mentioned. A postscript was added to the film, after howls of protest about an obvious insulting falsification of reality, which threw a few crumbs to the ambassador but never mentioned the attache, not to mention the Canadian prime minster, who allowed this mission to take place. It was all too reminiscent of how President Bush managed to thank half the countries of the world for having helped during the 9/11 attack, but forgot Canada, the only one that had really done anything.
And then there is the fourth film”Beasts of the Southern Wild” a tale of the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrine on the Louisiana coast, which features an amazing performance by an 8-year old girl who amazingly is also up for best actress, as is the director. None of the above will win, because they don’t present a phoney version of history, that ranges on propaganda, but rather offer a mythic story of outsiders who have no desire to return to the society from which they have been cut off by the inundations. This is the film of the year. Go see it, and skip cartoon history
There is little to add to all that has been written or talked about in the media. The killing rampage in Newtown, Connecticut is a transcendently horrible tragedy, almost impossible to comprehend. But of course there are always fanatics to make it worse.
Former Republican presidential candidate and current Fox TV Analyst Mike Huckabee did not disappoint, saying, “Well, you know, it’s an interesting thing. We ask why there is violence in our schools but we have systematically removed God from our schools. … Maybe we ought to let him in on the front end and we wouldn’t have to call him to show up when it’s all said and done at the back end.”
I guess the Reverend Mike’s point is that 20 innocent children are dead because we didn’t let them say Christian prayers in school.
But perhaps an even better example of how incredibly stupid people can be is the comment from the Executive Director of Gun Owners of America, Larry Pratt: “Gun control supporters have the blood of little children on their hands. Federal and state laws combined to ensure that no teacher, no administrator, no adult had a gun at the Newtown school where the children were murdered. This tragedy underscores the urgency of getting rid of gun bans in school zones.”
So our choice is to blame the framers of the Constitution for separating religion from politics, or gun control supporters, for the assault weapon murder of 27 people. We are not to consider the lack of effective controls over the availability of assault weapons of semi-mass destruction as relevant. Nor are we to consider inadequate and antiquated mental health systems as relevant. Or that Huckabee’s version of God is really only his personal fantasy.
There are over 300 million guns in American households; they account for ca. 48,000 deaths each year, more than half by suicide, but thousands by homicide. Our country used to be able to address national problems but in the world and time of Tea Party ignorance, Koch Brothers money, Roberts Court sycophancy and a House of Representatives inhabited by a large number of people 6 eggs short of a dozen, we seem to be totally screwed by the forces of ignorance, stupidity, and greed. So for those of us wishing for a rational approach to downsizing the violence we can only hope against hope.
From time to time this blog tries to hold the press to some standards of truth. The work of the press during this slaughter of the innocents has reminded me of the incredible damage the internet has done to journalists’ efforts to report the truth. In the race to be first with “breaking news” the following non-facts have been reported by so-called “reputable” news sources over the last couple of days.
The prime case was the rush to name the killer as Ryan Lanza.. It was his brother.
The killer was allowed into the school because they knew him..Wrong, he broke a window and forced his way in.
The killer’s mother was a teacher at the school. Not true..
The killer shot his mother in the school where she was a teacher—wrong on both counts – not a teacher and not killed in the school.
An investigation in New Jersey led media to announce that there was a death there – one source said it was the father of the perpetrator, none of this was true.
The semi automatic rifle was in the trunk of the car and the perpetrator had only two pistols when he entered the school. Wrong again.
At one point media reported that the killer’s father was one of the killers.
All of this is an example of what happens when the Internet and Twitter take over; no actual reporting, no control, no truth.4 Comments
In “Schubertiana” one of his greatest poems – and he has written more of them than anyone else alive – the matchless Tomas Tranströmer – incredibly he is a Nobel prize winner who actually deserved it – presents the composer Franz Schubert like this: “And the man who catches the signals from a whole life in a few ordinary chords from five strings who makes a river flow through the eye of a needle is a stout young gentlemen from Vienna, called “the mushroom” by his friends, who slept with his glasses on and stood at his writing lectern punctually in the morning. And then the wonderful centipedes of his manuscript were set in motion.” (Trans. Robin Fulton). What Tranströmer is driving at here, among other things, is that the superficial outer shell of beauty that plagues so many contemporary politicians; think in terms of Obama’s wife and kiddies, Romney’s religious zeal, Sarkozy’s phoney aristocratic bearing, Berlusconi’s bizarre displays of burlesque pleasure, the no-name British prime minister’s ridiculous portrayal of a person of power, etc. In all of Europe there is now only one politician who has real power and she has gained it by not playing a role that is based on poor theatre, but on hard work and policies that have brought results. This is Angela Merkel, the 57 year old former East German physicist, who displays none of the silliness of her colleagues in supposed power, who dresses without flair (we have to mention the one extraordinary exception to this that proved the rule when she wore a dress to the opening of the new Oslo Opera House that was so low-cut that the puritanical Norwegians missed watching the opera), and whose husband, an eminent physicist, is never seen at political events.
Against all odds she has now been in power as the first female chancellor of Germany for 7 years, and today she was reconfirmed as leader of her party, the conservative CDU, by the largest majority she has ever received: 80% of the party delegates voted for her. Even the most conservative wing of the conservative party for whom she is too liberal, admitted that they would be “blöd” (nuts) to not give her their full support in the upcoming election, which they will certainly win, (but by how much is unclear). In a stunning display of solidarity, the leader of the even more conservative Bavarian sister party (CSU), which has usually been at odds with anyone governing in Berlin (no wonder when you experience the splendid condition of the Bavarian capital München compared to rundown bankrupt Berlin) admitted that his party will be a “purring cat” during the pre-election months, content to snuggle up to the warmth provided by Mama Angela. Now that is charisma.1 Comment
- To vote for a Democrat means, now, to vote for the party’s influential members—for unions (including public unions of teachers, firemen, and policemen), for black and Latino minorities, for independent women….To vote for a Republican means, now, to vote for a plutocracy that depends for its support on anti-government forces like the tea party, Southern racists, religious fanatics, and war investors in the military-industrial complex. The independents, too ignorant or inexperienced …are the people most susceptible to lying flattery. They are called the good folk too inner-directed to follow a party line or run with the herd. They are like the idealistic imperialists “with clean hands” in Graham Greene’s The Quiet American—they should wear leper bells to warn people of their vicinity—Gary Wills, New York Review of Books
We have been subjected to a political campaign for the presidency that began nearly four years ago, moved into high gear over a year ago, presented a cast of shockingly bizarre Republican characters, and finally settled into a two man race that the American press has managed to define as a horse race to be covered as a sporting event of style over substance.
No day goes by without one or more new polls that tell us who is viewed most favorably among any number of subgroups: women voters, unmarried men, gays and lesbians, hispanics, white males, retirees, firemen, catholics, protestants, etc. etc. Candidates then try to tailor their heartfelt views to the identified interests of enough of the various subgroups to build a winning majority.. And by tailor, I mean, cut to size, redesign, change the entire look and feel – as various focus groups indicate. Mitt Romney’s constant and dramatic changes of expressed beliefs and values are an extreme example but Obama’s caution is also illustrative.
The press serves as the testing ground for policy changes by simply reporting them and then collecting data on whether the changes are liked or disliked by a largely unaware public. The press does this partially by collecting opinions from man-and/or-woman in the street interviews – a technique whose cost is only dwarfed by its innate absurdity. Of particular interest are those who after years of political jockeying have not quite been able to make up their mind. I mean, what does it take to get someone to decide? the world is not changing that fast, the candidates are only pretending to change, and yet these proud independents – unable to commit to any political belief or philosophy – wait for the magic moment – the epiphany – when they can decide between candidates representing radically different value systems and turn the election in whatever direction enters their sweet little heads.
Finally, to help them decide, the press provides analysts – almost always one from each side to discuss the issues in serious and quasi intellectual terms, but each reading from his or her internal Power Point presentation provided by their candidates. PBS’s Newshour has become especially proficient at this, cowering in its insecurities while it gives favor to each side hoping against hope that it will not be caught actually taking the side of rational thought, thereby perhaps risking its federal funding. The fact that they have become irrelevant, boring, tedious even – no longer matters. There is really no competition out there unless one turns to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, who in their own wacky way, move toward the truth. Colbert would say to independents, “flip a damned coin and get over it.”2 Comments
John Updike has passed on, Philip Roth has passed his peak, and like Updike, will not win the Nobel Prize, Toni Morrison, who did win it quite a long time ago, and Joyce Carol Oates have been productive but have long since levelled out on a somewhat predictable plateau. So who will take on the mantel of the leading US novelist? I’ll tell you who. It is Richard Ford, whose latest novel shows all the marks of a writer who learned his trade very well at the feet of masters and continued to improve and now in his mid sixties has really hit his stride with a novel that should remind readers of great works like The Sound and the Fury by that splendid fellow southerner William Faulkner – whom Ford met as a young man in Mississippi - or So Long, See You Tomorrow by the vastly underrated William Maxwell. Richard Ford, born in 1945 in Jackson, Mississippi, has gradually pushed his imagination north, setting a couple of his excellent earlier novels in places like Great Falls, Montana or central New York, and now, he has written what is arguably the best American novel of the last decades, and titled it, against the wishes of his US publishers, “Canada”. The publishers told him that this title was “a death knell for a book”, but Ford wouldn’t be pushed around, stood his ground on the title, and has seen his stubbornness more than vindicated with regard to both sales and reviews.
The leading US and European reviews have been superlative, and the PBS interview is much to be recommended, but their focus has been almost entirely on the extraordinary quality of the often meditative writing in the framework of a tale full of sound and fury. This novel explores the relationship between memory and long-ago events yet throughout catches the reader’s attention with an action story involving extraordinary and dangerous life choices that is presented through the recollections of a terrific 60-year old writer looking back at his teenage years. And what splendid writing it is; is there anyone else out there now who can write like this? And yet, overlooked by -and perhaps incomprehensible to – the US reviewers is the title, which Ford comments on at length in the PBS interview. Ford has spent a lot of time in Canada, and has said how much he likes being there and his description, in the second half of this novel, of the journey across an almost unmarked border – of course that is no longer the case – separating Montana from the Cypress Hills of Saskatchewan – is simply convincing. Dell, the teenager in desperate trouble not of his own making, enters a world so different from the one he leaves that it sometimes almost seems like he is in a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale (perhaops that of the Snow Queen). The author is neither judgmental nor prejudicial in his description of both sides of the border. It all just simply seems to be true, in things as different as language, landscape description, and customs. If it is a fairy tale, there is a dark edge to both worlds portrayed, but, as Ford says in the PBS interview, he is very fond of Canada and believes that in his story Dell is given the gift of the possibility of redemption and consolation when he is kidnapped and taken off to the nearby but unknown land of Saskatchewan. This is a great novel on its own, but it is also the defining work that, almost in passing, catches the different ways in which life is now lived in the second and third largest countries in the world that used to share the world’s longest unguarded border, but no longer do. Ford now lives in Maine. He’s moving in.No Comments