Monday, 15 June 2009

Yann Martel Gets Some Response from Stephen Harper: Now If Harper Would Only Read

Who says that it doesn’t pay to keep bothering politicians? Finally, after more than two yeas of sending books to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, every two weeks, Yann Martel has begun to get acknowledgements of his gifts

You'll remember that after a harried appearance by Harper at a tribute to the Canada Council for the Arts in spring 2007, Martel began sending a book every two weeks in order to provide some good bedtime reading for the PM, so that he could enjoy a little “stillness.” The first gift, The Death of Ivan Illych by Leo Tolstoy received a short note, but there was silence for the next 55 gifts. Then suddenly in May people in Harper's office began to send notes of acknowledgement.

Regardless of the PMO’s objectives, it seems Martel may have an ulterior motive for continuing his campaign: What is Stephen Harper Reading? Yann Martel’s Recommended Reading for a Prime Minister (and Book Lovers of All Stripes) is being published by Vintage Canada in early November. Nice to see the transition from website to book form: I've been checking in regularly to see what Martel has been selecting from Harper, but doing that is combursome. I'd much rather have something I can hold in my hands, leaf through, and take to the bookstore or library for reference. I'm not the only one, I'm sure.

Hiroshima Mon Amour, a screenplay by Marguerite Duras and a movie by Alain Resnais

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson

The Gift, by Lewis Hyde

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