Reading in 2020: A pandemic year’s bookshelf

Writing about some of the books I’ve read over the past twelve months feels a bit strange, as 2020 has seemed like two different years: the one that began on January 1 and the one that began in mid-March, when the world awoke to the reality of COVID-19 and nothing was the same again. Steeped in isolation by pandemic distancing protocols, we’ve all had much more time to read while pondering so many unsettling questions.…

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Reading 2019: A catholicity of interests

  NEW WESTMINSTER—The last time I posted a blog about my previous year’s reading (2016), the list was comprised of eleven books written by men. All but four of the authors were white, and the top two have since been “cancelled.” (The first, already in hot water for profiting from dubious claims to Indigenous ancestry, was Joseph Boyden; the second, two years before publishing a self-exculpatory essay by serial sex abuser Jian Gomeshi in The New York Review…

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After the Asshole Apocalypse

  When American author Edmund White finally published his much-anticipated biography of Jean Genet in 1993, not all of his peers were impressed. Playwright and activist Larry Kramer, for one, wanted to know: at the height of a global AIDS crisis what was White doing, spending seven years in Paris writing about a decadent, bohemian artist/outlaw while gay men by the thousands were dying in the prime of their lives? During a plague, was it…

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