Blog

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DISPATCHES

Daniel Gawthrop’s latest thoughts on sex, politics, religion, media, literature and publishing, art, hockey, dining—well, life, really. Opinions are his own.

2016: A Year of Good Reads

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According to some of my fellow writers, novelists should never read fiction while their own work is in progress. In the midst of writing a magnum opus, the argument goes, one should not be unduly influenced or distracted by another novelist’s style or method; to do so would risk derailing one’s own creative process by […]

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Donald Trump: Not a Reader

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Dear Donald Trump, They say you’re not a reader; that you don’t have time for books. “I never have,” you told the Washington Post this summer. “I’m always busy doing a lot.” Wow. I can’t imagine walking out the door every morning without having read some part of a book to start my day. (Imagine, actually […]

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Nanaimo Pride: The Resistance of Memory

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During the summer of 1993, as I was settling into a short-lived stint as the first publisher and editor of Xtra! West, Vancouver’s brand-new gay and lesbian biweekly, I received an overstuffed legal-size envelope in the mail from Don Hann. Best known as Vancouver’s first openly gay city hall daycare worker, Don Hann was a […]

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After Paris: Getting our heads around ISIS

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    We have not defeated the idea. We do not even understand the idea. — Major General Michael K. Nagata, Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, on the mysterious appeal of ISIS (December 2014)   The morning after the Paris attacks, a friend in Jakarta posted the following message […]

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Great Expectations

Somewhere before the one-month point of this seemingly interminable, 78-day federal election campaign, New Democrats awoke to a sobering reality. Few said it openly, but everyone was thinking it: We peaked too early. After several months at the top of the polls as Canada’s government-in-waiting, the NDP saw their numbers tacking unmistakably in the other […]

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Pope Francis and Me: A Fantasy

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The scene: A sitting room in the papal residences of Domus Sanctae Marthae, The Vatican  The ambience: Warm, dim lighting. In the middle of the room between two comfy chairs is a coffee table bearing a plate of fruit, cheese and bread, two wine glasses, and a ceramic decanter filled with the finest Malbec. Pope Francis: My […]

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Vatican News Flash: Gays are People, Too

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First, all you snickering cynics out there—including my fellow Catholic atheists and otherwise gay brethren—let’s not make fun of what rhymes with “relatio.” Instead, let’s take the Vatican document released today, relatio post disceptationem (Report After Debate), seriously and at face value. One of the report’s 58 sections, “Welcoming homosexual persons,” has prompted the usual […]

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What’s In a Name? Everything.

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Last night I was chatting with a friend when we somehow got onto the topic of the Washington Redskins. Now, I’m not much of a football fan, but controversies about race and ethnicity in popular culture tend to hover fairly close to my radar. This one—surrounding the name and logo of the U.S. capital’s NFL team—involves two subjects […]

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An Independent Newsroom Where Self-Censorship Rules

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With the state once again targeting journalists, press freedom in post-dictatorship Myanmar remains elusive. But it’s not just the government that inhibits free expression: the country’s leading independent news daily routinely betrays the ideals of press freedom by promoting hatred against a persecuted minority. Two years ago, Myanmar’s quasi-civilian government officially lifted pre-censorship rules governing […]

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So Long, Myanmar—and Au Revoir, Burma

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  Back in February, while sitting down for lunch in Mandalay with Karen Connelly, I reminded the award-winning author of The Lizard Cage of something she had said while promoting her 2009 memoir, Burmese Lessons. Connelly had told an interviewer that, after finishing her epic novel, she thought she was “done with Burma”—meaning as a destination, […]

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