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Contributors Letters Sightings Generation www Field Notes Guy Vanderhaeghe at cowboy camp in Saskatchewan, biking through Xinjiang memories, uncovering Suriname’s hidden caves

fact 32 Extraction All animals take from nature, the Canadian animal especially so by Edward Burtynsky 36
july/august 2007 volume 4 issue 6

Moneybags The wealth divide is a canyon — will the rich cross it? by Bruce Livesey 3D Vision Is Canada’s strategy in Afghanistan too complex to succeed? by Taylor Owen and Patrick Travers Charisma Sex, play, and a fighting stance is what our leaders must provide by Jeff Ryan

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Beginning on page 9: love songs, illustrated; playlist by Matthew McKinnon

fiction 56 The Counterpart by Nadia Kalman 64 70 77 Bob Dylan Goes Tubing by Marni Jackson The Principles of Exile by Camilla Gibb Big Ticket a play by Jim Garrard

poetry 41 The Mall by Evelyn Lau 49 Big Paw by Priscila Uppal

arts & culture 82 88
Cover: Edward Burtynsky

Food Turkish cuisine as religious experience, by Marcello Di Cintio Literature In Paris with Mavis Gallant, by Randy Boyagoda Think Tank Brainteasers and crosswords, by Fraser Simpson and Craig Kasper Parallel Universe by Graham Roumieu
coat of arms: faile spot illustration: vänskap

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Nevin Halıcı is one of Turkey’s most respected food writers and a leading authority on the country’s national cuisine. (See “Sufi Gourmet,” p. 82.) Detail from a photograph by Lana Šlezic ´

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j uly /au g u s t 2 0 0 7

Contributors
volume 4 issue 6

edward burtynsky (Cover and “Extraction,” p. 32) and his photographs of China’s industrial revolution are the subject of the film Manufactured Landscapes. guy vanderhaeghe (“Cowboy Camp,” p. 20) has twice won the Governor General’s award for English language fiction. A screen adaptation of The Englishman’s Boy will air on cbc in the spring of 2008. bruce livesey (“Moneybags,” p. 36) is an investigative journalist and television producer, formerly for cbc’s the fifth estate. gabriel jones (“Moneybags”), a photographer, has exhibited in New York, Toulouse, Paris, Düsseldorf, London, and Montreal. evelyn lau (“The Mall,” p. 41) is the author of Runaway: Diary of a Street Kid, two shortstory collections, a book of essays, a novel, and four volumes of poetry, most recently 2005’s Treble. taylor owen (“3D Vision,” p. 44) is a Trudeau Scholar at the University of Oxford and writes on security and foreign policy.

nadia kalman (“The Counterpart,” p. 56) was selected by Margaret Atwood as the winner of last year’s Summer Literary Seminars prize for fiction. camilla gibb (“The Principles of Exile,” p. 70) is the author of three novels, including 2005’s award-winning Sweetness in the Belly. kate wilson (“The Principles of Exile”) is a visual artist who has exhibited internationally. She is a member of Persona Volare, an artist collective in Toronto. jim garrard (“Big Ticket,” p. 77) is a playwright, the founder of Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronto, and the former director of the Toronto Arts Council. lana šlezic (“Sufi Gourmet,” p. 82) is a documentary photographer based in Istanbul. Forsaken, her book on Afghan women, comes out this fall. randy boyagoda (“In Paris with Mavis Gallant, Writer,” p. 88) published his first novel, Governor of the Northern Province, in 2006.

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t h e wa l r u s

tend his analysis. Given the reliance of our political system on what might be called original theft, it is convenient for not only police managers, bureaucrats, and unions but also politicians and captains of industry to ignore the underlying causes of “one dead Indian” and one defunct Tactical and Rescue Unit. Willem de Lint University of Windsor Windsor, Ontario I applaud Stephen Williams for labouring for police reform of some sort, but I am unconvinced by the lessons he draws from Constable Ron Heinemann’s humiliations. Williams posits a gulf between the Ontario Provincial Police management’s conceptions of reputational risk and front-line officers’ conceptions of operational risk; in a nutshell, the bigwigs are playing politics while little guys like Heinemann are getting shot at. From this, Williams concludes that the force needs more “Lilac Wine” — Nina Simone (1966) and better management in the Harvard style and that Standard Operating Procedures should not be second-guessed. These suggestions, typical of the case for internal reform (and the “bad apple” Tough Nut sible from such events, but politicians inquiries Williams derides), assume Stephen Williams is to be commend- and judges would prefer that police that the police are generally well adapted for “Life on Nut Island” (May), in absorb the heat in their stead. At the ed to policing themselves and that the particular for drawing attention to the same time, as those who framed our opp’s existing system of self-regulation social costs of fateful police decisions system of liberal government (John is amenable to meaningful reform. and practices and for raising the point Locke among them) knew, the execu- They further assume that rulebooks that bad apples are dispatched more tive sometimes takes prerogative pow- are a relevant part of police operationexpediently than rotten barrels. (Was er to act outside of the norms or rule al culture. it not somewhat contradictory, though, of law, using police as the domestic In asking readers to choose between to use knowledge generated by the Mol- instrument of that power. This pow- the priorities of tactically minded offilen Commission to support his case, er animates the occupational culture cers on the ground and those of strategywhile objecting to the extraordinary of policing, stimulating the bureau- minded commanders off-site, Williams expense of the Ipperwash Inquiry? ) cratic double-talk we hear from police is forcing the issue of police oversight Policing is an extension of the exec- executives. into a binary. For him, tactics are rule As a consequence of the tension in- governed and good, strategy is arbitrary utive function of government and its capacity to act against individuals and herent in policing, both its occupation- and bad. However, one of the great trugroups for the common good. How- al culture and its leadership require a isms of policing is that there is a rule ever, where interests are uncommon certain amount of justification. Enter for just about everything, and as Heine(outstanding native land claims, for in- well-paid lawyers, who defend beyond mann’s story and forty years of policing stance), the police’s authority to act is the expected limits of the law the rights research indicate, there is a way around ambiguous. Caledonia is the latest ex- of police organizations and individual every rule. This is as true for Incident ample: in the absence of a political or police officers to persist in practices Commanders as it is for line officers. In constitutional solution, police are the that are deemed necessary according to Williams’s own account, Standard Opervisible targets and will be criticized for the logic of liberal political philosophy ating Procedures broke down when the action they take. but aberrant to common justice. Heinemann delivered a personal “fuck I agree with Williams that there is you” to a suspect by way of a few pen Since Ipperwash and Oka, police have attempted to retreat as far as pos- a systemic problem, but I would ex- strokes. A freak, bad apple moment?

Letters

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t h e wa l r u s

Life of Great American Cities? And why would Mazer skip over that compelling book to devote so much ink to deriding a minor work like The Question of Separatism? These books share a core vision that was central to Jacobs’s work and the driving force behind her activism. She knew from relentless observation that vibrant, dense networks produce more good ideas than the brightest individual, that chaotic and engaged interaction evolves those ideas better than most costly think tanks, and that diverJacobs’s Ladder sity really is our strength. That’s why It feels almost churlish to critique Alex she favoured the creativity of commuMazer’s article on Jane Jacobs (“City nities over the dictates of demagogues. Limits,” May), in which he asks wheth- And that’s why she so forcefully argued, er it is time to rethink our view of her before it was popular to believe it, that as a visionary. His dismissal of the vi- cities had taken hold as the most imsionary status of Toronto’s secular saint portant socio-political unit despite the is so gentle that he seems almost sorry dominance of the nation-state. Her to be asking the question. But ask it he subsequent work enriches that legacy does, and his answer is baffling. with increasingly complex views of the How can anyone attempt to dismiss forces that condition the dynamic interJacobs as a one-book-wonder and for- play of communities, ideas, and initiaget Cities and the Wealth of Nations, a tive and the impact of those forces, for reinvention of economics almost as good or ill, on the world. revolutionary, persuasive, and appealMazer concedes that Jacobs’s vision ing as her masterwork, The Death and produced great achievements, but even

One wonders . . . These problems will be solved not by importing business management models or by giving more credence and discretion to line officers, but rather by investing toothless civilian oversight bodies with more authority — the type of authority that can probe secret church-basement meetings where some cops collude to cover things up. Myles Leslie Toronto, Ontario

then, he underestimates them. For example, while he credits Jacobs’s reshaping of Toronto’s politics with the stunning electoral victory of David Miller in 2003, he overlooks her impact on what were, at the time, equally surprising victories by David Crombie, John Sewell, and Barbara Hall. He also minimizes the significance of the expressway victories in New York and Toronto, which were critical to the success of those cities and inspired the revitalization of inner cities across North America. Finally, and inexplicably, Mazer questions Jacobs’s visionary status on the basis of her active role in everyday affairs. This is historically wrong; Jacobs’s impact was almost always through ideas and rarely through direct mobilization. More importantly, it is philosophically indefensible. What are visionaries for if not to guide real action? It is an affirmation of Jacobs’s visionary status that the foundation that took up her legacy chose to call itself Ideas That Matter. Would that more of our thinkers assumed their ideas should. Sean Meagher Toronto, Ontario Alex Mazer asks, “does [Jane Jacobs’s] vision still hold true for the world today, or is her work the remnant of the politics of an era — the 1960s and 1970s — whose relevance has passed?” My answer is both yes and no. Yes, her vision holds true today, and no, her relevance hasn’t passed. In the sixties and seventies, Torontonians were inspired by charismatic national and local leaders — Jacobs among them — who believed in sustainable communities. This leadership, supported by strong environmental and community-level policies, led us to innovation through broad, citizen-based democracy. In the 1980s, governments responded with policies that supported a cleaner, greener, and more community-relevant way of life: greenbelt and escarpment protection, waste minimization, cleaner air through pollution prevention, waterfront trails, and the globally recognized concept of sustainable development. But, with the early-nineties recession,

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t h e wa l r u s

political momentum flagged, ideas fizzled, and our innovative policy-makers became voices in the wilderness, waiting patiently for the next green wave. We forgot (and now claim we didn’t know) the costs of the consumer lifestyle. Now, after fifteen years of inertia, the threat of global warming has parachuted us once again into a “new” era of consciousness. Ontario’s new Places to Grow plan, which recently won the American Planning Association’s coveted Daniel Burnham Award, rests on the foundation of Jacobs’s vision — vibrant, self-sustaining communities connected by efficient transportation corridors and surrounded by green. And many of the solutions put forward by this May’s meeting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a network of hundreds of scientists and experts, can be found in Jacobs’s 1961 book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Hopefully, one day soon, her vision of the future will come to fruition. Sally M. Leppard Founder and ceo Lura Consulting Toronto, Ontario

Even if Alex Mazer can be forgiven for result was social cleansing. one or two appalling assertions (most Mazer’s missed opportunity is even notably, that Jacobs’s advocacy of lower- clearer in light of Michel Arseneault’s level government was appropriate up Field Note about French architect Rountil the end of the Cold War, but that, land Castro ( “Suburban Renewal,” post 9/11, it appears “naive and even ir- May). Among Castro’s considerations responsible”), he has squandered the in rebuilding a notorious public housopportunity to give a substantive cri- ing project in the Parisian suburbs are tique of an icon who he quite rightly some of Jacobs’s most prominent “dos complains seems immune. and don’ts” for urban renewal: yes to The problem is that Mazer confines short block lengths and the preservahis criticisms to Jacobs’s four minor, tion of old buildings; no to mixed prinon-urban works, tacitly endorsing her mary use and buildings abutting the most consequential ideas even as he sidewalk. Castro’s project is exactly claims to be reappraising her. In fact, the kind of thing Jacobs’s ideas should there are plenty of reasons for doubting be evaluated against. She originally the accuracy of Jacobs’s beliefs about claimed her observations were only urban decline and renewal, most fa- applicable to a small number of “great mously outlined in The Death and American cities,” but they’ve been emLife of Great American Cities. For ex- ployed (without her protest) far more ample, many argue that her prescrip- widely than that, and the results need tions are in part responsible for the to be considered when assessing her disappearance of affordable housing in legacy. A world, even a First World, of Jacobs’s own Toronto neighbourhood Greenwich Villages is an impossibility, and, more generally, the suburbaniza- and Jacobs’s vision can only really be tion of poverty that Canadian cities appraised in the context of a world of have witnessed in recent decades. A banlieues and tract suburbs. generation of councillors and planMazer calls Jacobs’s book The Quesners deployed her ideas in the name of tion of Separatism “a rather unusual neighbourhood preservation, and the product: a refutation of some of the weaker arguments against secession.” By this reckoning, Mazer’s essay is also a rather unusual product — a timely critique of Jacobs, but one composed, unfortunately, of the weaker arguments. David Wachsmuth Toronto, Ontario The Hole in the Doughnut As an American reader of The Walrus, I am struck by the extent to which your contributors will evoke the United States in efforts, it seems, to forge concepts of Canadian national identity. In the May issue, Deborah Kirshner (“A Pianist in Rwanda”) notes: “I also couldn’t find a McDonald’s, which is more significant than it sounds, because I discovered that the absence of images from corporate America has a dramatic affect on the psyche. . . . I felt, for the first time in a long while, a stretch along my own borders and as uninvented as the landscape.” The implication is, of course, that “images from corporate America” exercise a restrictive and unpleasant stranglehold in Canada, where Kirshner lives.

“You Still Have Me” – André Ethier (2006)

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t h e wa l r u s

Yet the existence of a McDonald’s in Toronto, for instance, is as emblematic of Canadian corporatism as it is of American corporatism; the same can be said of the existence of a Tim Hortons doughnut shop in a suburb of Chicago. The sentiment is echoed in a May letter by John MacLachlan Gray (in response to Charles Foran’s “An American Type of Sadness,” March): “The fact is that in Canada, our discomfort with consumerism and its cultural byproducts is accompanied by the knowledge that these demons are not of our own creation or evocation — that they grew out of a management vat in New York and Los Angeles.” How consumers, in this case Canadian, are not somewhat responsible for the “creation or evocation” of their own consumerism is beyond me, for consumer culture is not created by producers alone, and even if that were so, Canada produces plenty to consume. The desire for cultural independence from America is understandable, but the influence of American culture on Canada should not be discussed in hegemonic terms, however understated.

So it is in Rebecca Addelman’s “The widespread among Americans, of CanLast Laugh” (May): “Canada is famous ada’s marginality. Valentine A. Pakis for birthing satirists who have gone on Minneapolis, Minnesota to take down the American establishment. How did we get to the point of needing Jon Stewart to make fun of our I Object! politicians for us?” The underlying anx- Your coverage of International Coniety of this quotation is betrayed in the scientious Objectors Day in the May hyperbole of its first sentence. Where Outlooks betrays a fundamental misis Canada famous for birthing satirists? understanding of conscientious obCan a satirist bring down an establish- jection. COs are not asking for their ment? If so, can a satirist bring down an individual rights to “trump the collectestablishment that is unaware of this ive resolution of state interests.” Rather, satirist’s existence? The remark suggests they assert that the resolution cannot further that the US is forcing its come- be accomplished by war. dy into Canadian living rooms. HowevCOs neither deny the existence of er, Canadians do not “need” American conflict nor wish to accept subjugacomedians to mock Canadian politi- tion as a result of inaction. They becians — that American comedians do lieve we need to work toward a more so is beside the point. What they need, robust peace, which addresses the root as the article points out, are fewer regu- of the conflict rather than tearing off lations on public speech. limbs and branches. Like Canadian culture, American In fact, COs are some of the most culture is not monolithic, though your committed patriots; they believe that writers are apt to fashion it as such, establishing more stable international again, to give definition to their no- relationships will allow our countries tions of Canadian identity. This pre- to develop more freely. Scott Kroeker occupation detracts, however slightly, Winnipeg, Manitoba from the intellectual quality of your magazine and supports the stereotype, Pick Your Poison I have just taken the opportunity to read John Lorinc’s very thoughtful article, “Driven to Distraction” (April). I would have read it sooner, but I’ve been preoccupied reading a rather long book, talking to my delightful sister on the telephone, and visiting friends across town. They make a mean pasta and serve wine. We always have a few hearty laughs and part in good humour. But I digress. (Life is full of these kinds of distractions, too.) Technology has succeeded where centuries of work have failed in keeping us chained to the workplace 24/7, 365 days of the year. Mobile devices like the BlackBerry are contributing to the work pandemic that is running rampant in our society. The false sense of urgency — and self-importance — conveyed by these devices is driving us nuts. We must keep them in their place. One of Lorinc’s most important findings is that we need “more time and fewer distractions, even if that means less information.” If there’s one thing “Hello Love” – Hank Snow (1973) that’s overhyped in the Information

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illustration: jillian tamaki

Name of Stor y

Age, it’s information. To everyone who’s speeding headlong down the path to information overload: if we put our minds to it, we can choose our distractions! Turn off, tune out, drop out. Alan Gummo St. Catharines, Ontario Dead Cred Joshua Knelman’s Field Note “Better Red, Then Dead” (April) is wonderfully evocative of Biblical times, fluttering kaffiyehs, and the sunset days of the British Empire in the Middle East. Knelman also correctly sketches out the ecological tragedy of the Dead Sea, dropping fast as a result of managed overextraction of water for human consumption, agriculture, and industrial prowess. However, the proposed solution — diverting water from the Red Sea via a canal system — is more problematic than he suggests. Far from there being consensus on the Red/Dead project, regional environmentalists, development specialists, and cooperation practitioners have expressed concern about mixing different sea waters, the ecological impact on protected areas in the Arava, and the economic and political implications of constructing a “canal for peace.” Rather than asking how to save the Dead Sea, we might ask how we can meet human needs while avoiding large-scale intrusion into the local ecology. Eric Abitbol and Stuart Schoenfeld Alternative Visions of Water in the Middle East (avow) York University Toronto, Ontario Tusk, Tusk Millions of mountain pine beetles originating in the Nechako Valley region soared 400 kilometres and infested forests east of the Rockies in BC and Alberta in 2006, not 2002, as claimed in “Red Rush” (April). There was an airborne outbreak in 2002, but it was smaller in scale. The Walrus regrets the error. “The time has come,” The Walrus said, “To talk of many things.” Write to us at 101– 19 Duncan Street, Toronto, ON, m5h 3h1, or letters@walrusmagazine.com. Letters may be edited for length and clarity, and may be published in any medium.

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Sightings

generation www

T

he new world order, as described in with room for coffee klatches if not agreements when elected officials have dispatches from the culture front, books. Higher up, there are the schools gone awol — are without historical conreveals itself as follows: so long as of journalism that concurrently teach sciousness or any appreciation that a it is delivered in digestible chunks, is “the story chase” and public relations — powerful metaphor can go horribly awry. salacious, gossipy, and supported by that is, teach truth and falsity all at Post-9/11, the Americans tried “Might is illustrative pictures, Internet users gen- once — but never mind, the myth is Right” in Afghanistan. Mountains were erally don’t care where content comes preserved that the writer’s craft can be beheaded, civilians and goats killed, a from. On terra firma — say, at the mag- gleaned without excessive reading, trav- few nasty brutes wasted or sent off to azine rack — editorial copy is said to be el, and downtime with Zarathustra. Guantánamo Bay, and the rest of the “stuff ” around which advertisements are Vanity press is thriving, and self- bad guys and hearty Pashtuns returned wrapped: often a sad but true summa- publishing via the Internet is thought to to their caves. It did not go well, but tion. Elsewhere, paragraphs sequential- be more honest, more, well, immediate if at first you don’t succeed . . . And so ly organized into narratives are viewed than anything subjected to an editor’s we have Canada’s myopic charge, our as “running text.” At book signings, scalpel and the rigours of fact check- own might is right (lower case and folks with large handfuls will likely sell ing. And in this gaseous explosion of without quotation marks, given our the autographed products on eBay: a words and pictures, obfuscation flour- relative strength), while the Ameri“You’re the best, Don DeLillo” might ishes. “Citizen journalists,” pencilled cans chase hope over experience in fetch $15 above retail, I’m told, “From in as a check and balance on propa- nearby Iraq. Paris with love, Mavis Gallant” in the ganda if not purple prose, instead folOnly a deserted public square could neighbourhood of twenty bonus bucks, low the rushing current from one topic allow such inanities to persist. Only an and “My treasure, Fyodor Dostoevsky,” to another. Meanwhile, Mr. Harper’s ahistorical braggart could fail to recoga king’s ransom — if packaged with “whole of government” (wog) settles nize that many Afghan and Iraqi ina tomb raider. over the commons — wog in this in- surgents are locally born and have in That rappers ( “Two trailer park girls stance meaning, “Any minister who their bones distrust and hatred of forgo round the outside . . .” ) and teenagers steps out of line will be kneecapped eign infidels, especially those pummel( “my bad” ) are the new grammarians by Brutus.” ling rockets into villages. Only those in is widely known, if not appreciated. But Clogging other arteries is the celeb- the generals’ hip pockets fail to appreflying under the radar of those who rity confessional, and even in polite com- ciate that it is diplomacy that ultimatetrack society’s descent into mediocrity is pany one is now expected to speak about ly wins the peace. But distracted we are, the Ontario high school diploma, which oneself. MySpace versus YouTube is the clicking away, surfing the World Wide requires exactly one history course. In new battleground, and to be fair there Web for information, porn, the odd recifour truncated months — quick-and-dirty is much hilarity in both. But with just- pe, while history marches on, “Might semestered schools winning out over in-time-delivery and what-have-you- is Right” winning the day, if not a sinthe full-year programs — the tortured done-for-me-lately being sovereign, gle war. www, the new messiah, is just teenagers receive a glimpse of the cour- everything is of the moment, and the as likely to produce a collective aneureur de bois passing through native noise is deafening. God has been pro- ysm as it is the sharing of best pracwoods and a few good men dead on nounced dead, and since He could be tices on open-source networks. And foreign battlefields, maybe a mad dash a genuine nuisance, that is fair enough; in this unmediated era, when decent through nafta, knock off five or eight but if history and reflection follow in manners, a touch of modesty, childvideos, write a paper, sit the exam, and His wake, the cacophony will escalate hood, subject-verb agreement, and the slow search for truth are dying on the then “Free at last! Free at last! Thank and the trouble will destroy. God almighty, we are free at last!” — the It is apparent that Harper, defence vine, it is difficult to discern anything quote not Canadian but at least on point. minister Gordon O’Connor, and bully- of substance inside the walls of selfWhat used to be called “libraries” are boy Rick Hillier — the chief of the de- referential noise. ; morphing into “information centres” fence staff, who signs international — Ken Alexander, Editor

18

t h e wa l r u s

CANADA . CHINA . SURINAME

cowboy camp
Novelist Guy Vanderhaeghe saddles up qu’appelle valley — In the summer of 2006, a miniseries adaptation of my novel The Englishman’s Boy went into production in Saskatchewan. Since half of the drama is set in the American and Canadian West of 1873, it was decided that a crash course in equitation was necessary for the actors. When I learned this “cowboy camp” was being convened in the Qu’Appelle Valley, north of Regina, wild horses couldn’t have kept me away. For males of a certain age, who galloped their mothers’ brooms over backyard ranges in the fifties, holstered cap guns flapping against their thighs, the fantasy of playing cowboy is lethally attractive. On the first morning of instruction, I arrived wearing a pair of boots I had bought in Dallas fifteen years before and worn only once or twice since. My middle-aged feet had spread like the rest of me, forcing me to mince about camp in a most unmanly fashion. The wranglers in charge of teaching horsemanship were former professional rodeo riders and ranchers — laconic,
To hear Vanderhaeghe discuss the process of reconceiving written fiction into screenplay, go to walrusmagazine.com/more.

leathery types given to unfathomable stares, most of which I felt were directed my way. The first course was a safety primer, covering topics such as how to approach a horse from behind without getting kicked into the bleachers, or what to do if you find yourself on a careering runaway. For instance, don’t scream. It might further panic the horse. Next, each actor was assigned a mount and spent time currying and feeding it and performing other ingratiating services meant to encourage it to, if not like you, tolerate you. I lingered hopefully on the fringes like a kid awaiting the call to join a pickup football game. Invitations were not forthcoming. By the time the actors were engaged in learning the rudiments of steering, stopping, and accelerating their new four-legged friends, I was in a desperate state of unrequited desire. Making meek, supplicating motions, I approached a wrangler who had just ridden up and identified myself as the writer. Like Richard iii, I abjectly begged for a horse. “Take mine,” he said and, dismounting with catlike grace, left me to claw myself aboard, joints grinding and creaking. This was a mistake. Wranglers’ horses are not like the ones assigned to actors. They are provided with the most docile horseflesh available, because injury to the talent would be a catastrophe. But what happens to the writer is not a cause for concern. 20

illustration: tamara shopsin

t h e wa l r u s

Outlok for
JULY/AUGUST
Illustrated by Tamara Shopsin

July 2–13 Miss Galaxy Pageant Nuku’alofa, Tonga

In Tonga, two genders just aren’t enough. The third, known as fakaleiti (“like a lady”), consists of crossdressing males who, tradition has it, were raised as girls by families lacking female children to take care of domestic chores like weaving, cooking, and cleaning. Part gender-studies conference, part glamour gala, the Miss Galaxy Pageant showcases the femininity and liminality of this well-established element of Tongan society. Though metre-tall hats provide a good dose of camp, the competition is a high-minded affair: contestants model elegant evening gowns and judges interview them earnestly to decide which one to crown . . . King? Princess? Queen? On this Polynesian island, the distinctions blur in the smoky haze of roasting pig.

On the ensuing trail ride, the grin soon melted off my face as I wrestled to restrain my high-spirited steed. If it bolts, I reminded myself, resist the urge to shriek. Better to die in silence than in disgrace. In the next few days, I found myself aching in places I didn’t know I owned and walking like an animated wishbone. Meanwhile, the actors were soldiering on, growing ever stiffer, sorer, and more chafed. They were also learning that horses, like thespians, sometimes exhibit quirks, foibles, and temperament. One morning at breakfast, I asked one of the actors, who sat morosely stirring his fruit cocktail, what was the matter. He blurted out, “My horse hates me. He knows I’m from Toronto and I’m wearing pantyhose.” It was a charged, confessional moment. Only later did I learn that all the other actors had also donned pantyhose. The wranglers had given them a “tip.” Hosiery minimized saddle friction, preventing flesh from getting rubbed to hamburger. They had descended on a womenswear store to get outfitted. Too soon, I had to leave, despairing at having notched only a single ride. When I returned weeks later, all the actors from Vancouver and Toronto had developed a blasé competence around horses and were now being glamorously referred to as “the posse.” As a Westerner, I seethed at the unfairness of it all. But one afternoon, when an actor was somehow occupied and his horse needed to be ridden to a location, I was called upon. “Guy, take Michael’s horse. Go with the posse.” Michael happens to be considerably shorter than me, but there was no time to adjust the stirrup lengths. Off I went, an overweight, superannuated jockey, knees hovering near my armpits. At the top of a hill, I halted to take in the scene. By squinting my eyes, I was able to banish the craft-services vehicle and other cinematic impedimenta below. In the valley, teepees glistened in glaring sunshine. Raked by a breeze, a grove of poplars flashed silver. Insects hummed in the heat. The posse filed down the slope, costumed and armed. I drank it all in. By marrying movie illusion with psychological delusion, my fan-

tasy was fulfilled. At age fifty-five, better late than never, I had become a high plains drifter. — Guy Vanderhaeghe

}

“i am strong in my basically”
A bike ride through the Chinese psyche xinjiang autonomous region — My daughter Noey and I were tired, hungry, and lost, travelling with an inadequate map and a “guide” who spoke no English, had never been in the area before, and was notably displeased with our agenda. We were riding mountain bikes along a rutted dirt track that rambled across the broad steppe in Xinjiang, a region in northwest China formerly known as the East Turkestan Republic. Before that, it was traditionally the home of Turkic herders and horse warriors who had been both enemies and allies of Genghis Khan. We pedalled into a small valley with worn pasture, too many sheep, and duncoloured yurts that matched the parched hills. After coasting down, we met a Kazakh woman who was carrying water in pails swinging from a stick that was balanced across her shoulders. She shyly but graciously invited us to dinner, in accordance with the Central Asian nomad’s custom that anyone who has already raised their yurt must offer shelter to weary travellers. The men returned from their herds and we all sat crosslegged on colourful carpets to eat mutton and noodles, cooked over a cow-dung fire on an open hearth. The next morning, we rode across rolling grassland, grazed to stubble, under a sky too broad to hold thoughts inside. By late afternoon, we pedalled past irrigated fields and then rolled into a city with glistening modern buildings and wide avenues, where well-dressed businesspeople hurried along spacious, curving sidewalks past tidy gardens of white, red, and yellow flowers. The following day, Noey and I found a small college perched on a third floor

22

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t h e wa l r u s

July 13–22 The 38th International Physics Olympiad Isfahan, Iran

Denying the Holocaust is so last year — this year, Iran has moved on to denying string theory. High school students from across the globe will travel to Isfahan this July for a weeklong competition to identify the world’s nerdiest teenager. The contest has two parts, one devoted to theoretical problems and a second to experimental questions, with a day of rest in between for competitors to hang out and talk about their crushes with this year’s guest of honour, Stephen Hawking. Last year, sixteen-yearold Jonathan Pradana Mailoa of Indonesia won the title of best physics student for correctly answering a question about neutroninferometers and the effect of gravitational pull on de Broglie waves. At press time, no one from the United States had signed up.

above a fashionable boutique. We locat- fidence in his demeanour that belied ed an English teacher, a pretty young our concerns. He asked his mother for permission woman dressed in tight jeans and highheeled sandals that revealed glittering to join us, and she angrily replied, “How purple toenail polish. are you ever going to find a suitable I knew that the People’s Liberation wife if you are out riding with these two Army (pla) had wrested this land from Americans?” the indigenous Kazakh and Uighur Ignoring her, Wuming Shi showed people, just as they had conquered Tibet, up at our hotel the next morning on his and that they had imported agriculture twenty-dollar Chinese bicycle, with cotand urbanization into a land traditional- ton bedding tied askew behind the back ly inhabited by nomads. But we had been seat. On the long climb out of town, he travelling without language, so the tra- pedalled beside me as I struggled to catch gedy remained strangely sterile, as if hu- my breath. When we reached the summans weren’t involved. mit, I asked him how he could ride so After formalities, I asked, “What is the strongly, on a junker bike and with no relationship between the Han Chinese physical conditioning. and the Kazakh people here in northWuming Shi smiled. “I have suffered west Xinjiang?” more than you have. I am strong in my “Yes.” She smiled. basically.” “Did you understand my question?” Ten days later, we were studying my “Yes.” Another coquettish smile. map and Wuming Shi pointed his finI reworded my inquiry, using sim- ger at a region marked with the label, ple syntax. “Many irrigation ditches.” “Oh. We are all very happy.” “My father dug those ditches with a We chatted congenially in this man- shovel.” ner until Noey and I thanked the woman Then he began to cry. After a few moand retired to go shopping. When we ments he continued, “You are a writer. stepped off the escalator in a large de- Sometimes you ask too many questions. partment store, two Filipino women ap- Remember, this is China. There are many proached and suggested mysteriously stories about the Han Chinese, the Kazthat we might want to talk with a local akhs, and the Uighurs. Some of these resident — someone I will call Wuming stories may be true, while some may Shi — who spoke excellent English. not. It is very hard to know. But I will As we sipped tea in a posh hotel, Wu- tell you the story of my father. I know ming Shi explained that he couldn’t an- this is true. swer my questions in a public place, and “My father was born in 1930. When invited us to his house. That evening, the Revolution started, he joined Chiang we discussed Hemingway, the Bible, Kai-shek’s army, but his unit was defeatand Joseph Conrad, but Wuming Shi ed by the Communists. They sent him deflected all inquiries about politics, so- to school and he joined the pla, who cial interactions, or history. Three days fought against the independence movelater, defeated in our quest for informa- ment in East Turkestan. After the victory, tion, Noey and I decided to continue the soldiers were ordered to colonize the our bike ride across the steppe. conquered land, which later became the Wuming Shi asked if he could join region known as Xinjiang. There were us. He was a retired bank clerk, fifty- no Chinese women, so the government four years old and frail looking, with dispatched agents to central China to a thin face, chipped front teeth, large find wives for the soldier-settlers. The eyeglasses, and a warm smile. He had Chinese built farms and cities, because been married twice and had three chil- the Kazakh people were nomads. dren, but had never camped out, been “My father dug irrigation trenches and on a long-distance bike ride, or exer- raised fruit trees. He and my mother cised in any meaningful way. Noey and were happy, and we always had enough I were worried that he would become a to eat. But my father was of Yi nationalliability on the arduous ride ahead, but ity, not Han Chinese, so when the Culthere was a quiet peacefulness and con- tural Revolution commenced in 1966,

24

What Books can’t tell you

MARQUESAS, TUAMOTUS AND SOCIETY ISLANDS

ANTARCTICA
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t h e wa l r u s

August 9–10 Fourth International Course on Improving the Quality of Service in Security Buenos Aires

“My fellow Latin American rent-acops: The people fear for their homes and their lives. In these times of great wealth for the few and poverty for the many, violent crime is ever rising. And this is wonderful news for private security firms! Our industry is growing by 10 percent a year — so fast, in fact, that our performance has suffered and we’re getting some tough press. Human rights groups and the UN are saying we’re taking over from public police — in Chile, we outnumber them two to one. They also say that we fuel the illegal arms trade and engage in extrajudicial killings. This is precisely why we must come to together: to share best practices for these special services, and to drink to our wisdom.”

neighbours accused my father of speaking against the government.” Wuming Shi continued quickly, in cropped sentences, without description or elaboration. “Under torture, my father confessed to crimes against the government. He was imprisoned and held in chains. Then he escaped and hid in a haystack. Still in chains, he returned home to see my mother. Just to look at her face. Of course, he was captured, tortured, and imprisoned again. Wuming Shi sobbed uncontrollably. “My father was never a bad man. The men who accused him just wanted to make him look dirty so they would look clean.” He took a raggedy breath and continued: “When my father was in prison, we were always hungry, and in the winter, frost coated the inside of our house. After the Cultural Revolution my father came home. But he was never the same man again.” Wuming Shi composed himself and smiled. His face, which had been pale at the beginning of the journey, was now tanned, offset by a purple bruise above his left eye, where he had crashed on a rocky downhill. “I have never told this to anyone before. I tell it to you because we are bicycling together. We are friends.” Then he pointed his finger at me and admonished, “You have travelled in China for a month and you have seen some things. You have heard this story. Maybe you think that now you understand China. You will write that you understand China. But you don’t know anything. You don’t understand anything about China.” — Jon Turk

dreaming a new myth
A lost jungle cave reveals a secret sipaliwini basin — We leave our boats on the river and trudge into the Surinamese jungle without speaking. Piha birds

shriek two-syllable greetings, and the electric hum of cicadas rises on the lateafternoon air along with the sour stink of wild boar. Soon the trail is blocked by a series of massive boulders. We have arrived at the sanctuary of Werehpai. Before taking us any further, our Trio Indian guide recounts the story of how he found this place. “I was chasing a herd of boar when my hunting dog disappeared,” Kamania tells us in Sranan Tongo, Suriname’s matter-of-fact lingua franca. “I looked for him all day but couldn’t find him, so I returned to camp. My wife was very upset. Our dog is a good dog. I went to sleep angry and very sad.” That night, Kamania dreamt of a voice. The voice described a secret pathway through the forest and told him to follow it. “You will not find your dog,” said the voice. “Instead, you will find pictures of your ancestors carved in stone.” “I woke before the sun and followed the same route I’d learned in the dream,” Kamania continues. “I secretly expected to find my dog, but by noon I had found nothing, so I sat down to eat my lunch. I was lost. I did not know where I was. Then, on the surface of a stone at my feet, I saw a face staring up at me.” Kamania looked up and realized he was sitting in front of a towering complex of granite boulders overgrown with moss and vines. He had never seen this place before. “The face told me to explore the stones,” he says. Among the boulders, Kamania found a labyrinth of seven interconnected caves. The walls of each room were covered with rough petroglyphs, haunting images of faces and rainforest animals carved into the rock. In one room he found an altar stone, its flat surface thick with the bones of boar, armadillo, and monkey — once home to his ancestors, this room was now a jaguar’s lair. The sloped floors were carpeted with shards of pottery, and the sound of them splintering beneath his feet frightened him. Kamania left quickly. He paddled downriver to Kwamalasamutu and alerted the village chief to what he’d found. Soon, government officials and local archaeologists were informed, and the site was declared a sanctuary. An archaeologist from the Smithsonian came to

26

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t h e wa l r u s

August 11 Dia da Pendura Brazil

Law students throughout Brazil leave their restaurant cheques “hanging” (na pendura) every year on this, the date Portuguese emperor Dom Pedro I founded the country’s law schools in 1827. The custom began when eateries near the institutions offered these important clients a free meal in honour of the date. When the invitations started to peter out, students established a not-so-legal precedent: lunch, pro bono. Offending scholars gather at the restaurant of their choice, eat and drink their fill, loudly and tipsily thank their hosts, then walk out solemnly without paying. They do leave the customary 10 percent tip, however — August 11 is also Waiter’s Day.

28

 

conduct a preliminary dig. Conservation International, already active in the rainforests of Suriname, quickly began exploring the ecotourism potential of the site. Our expedition is part of that mission. After uttering a short prayer, Kamania leads us into the caves. The air becomes dank and cold, almost subterranean. The floors are slippery with tropical lichens and dotted with ceramic fragments. We make our way into the first house and begin to see the carvings: stick-figure bodies with oval heads, their mouths wide open in fear or anger; giant spiders and coiled serpents, threatening to strike; hybrid beings, half man and half butterfly, loosing arrows from the roof. And everywhere, images of men with ornate headdresses, suggestive of Amerindian royalty, and women in simple pigtails. The carvings come alive in the skittering light of our headlamps and cameras. In every room, I get the disturbing impression that a hundred eyes are following me as I move through the shadows. No human has lived here for at least a millennium, but the caves still feel eerily inhabited. Carbon dating of charcoal remains has determined that Werehpai is at least 5,000 years old, a prehistoric apartment complex that once served as a temporary village site for nomadic hunters and, later, small tribes of agriculturalist Amerindians. Kamania’s discovery is easily the most significant archeological find in Surinamese history, and the petroglyphs are one of the most remarkable deposits of Stone Age artwork in South America. But to date, fewer than a hundred modern people have set foot among the houses of Werehpai. The passageways between the rooms are narrow and dark, and we often have to crawl blindly on hands and knees. But Kamania rushes us through the maze, clearly uncomfortable with our popping flashes. He is very proud of this place but intensely protective of it. “Snel, snel,” he says, urging us to move faster. In an hour we emerge from the seventh house. As our eyes adjust to the muted light of the jungle, Kamania explains the sanctuary’s significance to his people, and how it got its name.

Trio legend says that Werehpai was August 15 a young woman from the Akijo tribe, a 30th Anniversary of group that lived for thousands of years the Wow! Signal Sent from outer space in the remote jungles of the Upper Amato Delaware, Ohio zon Basin. The Akijo were an advanced people — they knew how to paint, to draw, and to weave — but they were also a warring one, renowned for their violence and cannibalism. One day, Werehpai was given two children, kidnapped from a neighbouring tribe, to raise as her own. When they Dear Dr. Jerry reached adolescence, the girl was re- Ehman of Earth, moved from Werehpai’s care and subjected to a horrific Akijo ritual: she was I left you a message tattooed from head to toe and then kept thirty years ago alive as her limbs and torso were shorn and still haven’t apart and devoured by her tribespeople. heard back. Did I say too much? Terrified and heartbroken, Werehpai Not enough? The helped the girl’s brother, Aturai, escape intensity variation into the jungle. In time, Aturai returned I used — 6equj5 — with an army of men, bent on revenge. did that click? I A vicious battle ensued. The jungle spir- thought we had a its, who could always be trusted to side connection. You with the righteous, joined with Aturai. even doodled When the jungles fell silent, he had pre- “Wow!” on vailed — the Akijo had been destroyed. the computer The Trio believe the petroglyphs at printout beside Werehpai are their ancestors’ visual re- my message. At cord of that battle — the graphic novel the Big Ear Radio of a story that has been passed down Observatory. . . the seti project . . . orally for countless generations. Soon remember, Jerry? after the discovery of the caves became Maybe I was too public, the Trio held a feast to bless forward, what with the sanctuary. They offered tributes to the strong narrowtheir forebears, the small tribes of Amer- band frequency. indians whose prehistoric spirits still But it’s so hard to haunt the caves. meet a nice earthBut the feast also honoured Kamania ling. I know you and the dream that led him to the caves. like to take things His tale has quickly become legend here slow (and that’s cool and now affords him a measure of sha- with me), but I’m manic celebrity among his people. It confused. Is there proves that even today, in parts of the someone else? A quasar? Please call. world where good storytelling is still the most respected form of informaStill waiting, tion technology, new myths are continu- Lonely Sentient ally being lived, spoken, and dreamt. Space Being We hike back to the Sipaliwini along the tangled pathway of Kamania’s dream route. As we climb into the boat, I ask him if he ever found his dog. “No,” he says with a smile. “The dog found me.” A week after Kamania stumbled upon Werehpai, his hunting dog reappeared at his door. — Andrew Westoll

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Fa & Fi ion
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C a n a d a and the A g e o f E x t r a c t i o n Rich vs. Poor: The Storm Awaits T o u g h Ta l k on A f g h a n i s t a n Political Charisma: Where Did It Go?
pp. 32~54

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A Russian Nose Job B o b D y l a n S p e n d s the S u m m e r Can Exiles Ever Return? A t the C a r P o u n d
pp. 56~81

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E x t r ac t i o N
Canada started as a rough-and-tumble company, but is the march of progress now killing the country?
essay and photography by Edward Burtynsky

Our greatest experiment — civilization itself — will succeed only if it can live on nature’s terms, not man’s. To do this we must adopt principles in which the short term is trumped by the long; in which caution prevails over ingenuity; in which the absurd myth of endless growth is replaced by respect for natural limits; in which progress is steered by precautionary wisdom. — Ronald Wright

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ast year, I was in northern Portugal, near the Spanish border, photographing marble quarries. It’s a beautiful part of the world — the Atlantic Ocean lapping up on the shores, the Montes de León in the distance, the people generous and curious. But the region is also peppered with quarries, both large and small, and I was struck by the amount of cut stone sitting idle, with no apparent owner. I asked my guide, a quarryman in these parts for twenty years, about the abandoned rock. He explained that in the past, when extracting techniques were less refined, practically all of the quarried rock found a market: the fine grades were for flooring and sculpture; the lesser, flawed stone, crushed into a near dust, for foot powders and toothpaste. The backlog of unwanted stone is the result of choice, he said. More efficient extraction techniques allowed for blocks to be removed at a lower cost, and more elevated tastes and specific consumer demands forced buyers to be more selective when choosing stone for their respective markets. Blocks showing even minor flaws were passed over. So, after many years of accumulating this secondary material, the region’s natural beauty is marred by vast graveyards of rejected, unwanted stone. As markets change their tastes, they also create a great deal of waste. I consoled my guide by saying that as the price of oil rises, the cost of extracting, lifting, cutting, and transporting stone would also rise. This would make all this secondary rock

much more attractive. It was a guess. In the 1970s, while working as an underground gold miner near Red Lake in northern Ontario, I visited many large, open-pit mines. The size of these holes was striking, and I began to think about how to express monumental scale in photographic terms. Canada itself, of course, is monumental, a vast expanse of land and water with few people, and I wondered about the relationship between scarred earth and human need. In many respects, my work has from the beginning been a meditative lament for the ongoing and dramatic loss of our natural environment and our flawed relationship with that world. Were I born in a country less privileged with unspoiled wilderness — a country like Portugal, perhaps — I would no doubt have a different view of nature. (Scarcity can frame the mind in very distinct ways.) In that sense, my work, all of it, is profoundly Canadian. Throughout the developed world, practically everything was long ago divided up — farms seeded, trees cut down, forests replanted or not. Where civilization has marched, few people know anything about original, pristine settings. Canada is different, or at least potentially so. We are blessed with an abundance of unadulterated space, and I have always loved canoeing and hiking in our remote regions. Experiencing raw spaces has given me a reference point for understanding what I have come to call a geological time consequence. During the 1980s, I made numerous attempts to photograph raw, unaffected natural spaces. But we all understand wilderness images, and it seemed almost impossible to keep my own from being drawn down by the gravitational pull of clichés. In 1983, I set out in a Volvo station wagon on a four-month exploration of the North American mined landscape. It was the beginning not of an environmental project, but rather of a visual update on the

left: iberia quarries #9, cochicho co., pardais, portugal, 2006

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ages of humankind, from stone to bronze, iron, and onward, a never-ending forward thrust. Rock and metals are alive and well, I discovered — these ages existing on a scale so immense that even 100 years ago it would have been impossible to imagine their scope. Relatively inexpensive energy — due, in large measure, to improved efficiencies in the oil-and-gas sector — and the more than doubling of the human population over the past sixty years, have inexorably altered our present age. But though history may get buried under the march of progress, if one looks in the right places it is never extinguished. There are locations that put older ages in sharp relief, just beneath the surface.

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e have always taken from nature. This is normal, part of the human condition and, indeed, a fact of life for all life forms. What is different today is the speed and scale of human taking, and that the earth has never experienced this kind of cumulative impact. We don’t see it as extraordinary because it evolved incrementally, but the result is monumental. If my images appear surreal at times, it must be remembered that they depict our extractive world as it is. The trick — now, as on that initial exploration — is to provide photographic images that leave meaning open, an ambiguity necessary to gain access to sites, engender discussion, and steer clear of polemics and clichés. Thirty years after chasing down my subject, I sense that we are entering a new age. Never before has an entire generation been told in such convincing terms that the values and ambitions we assumed to be good and true, and that we fought long and hard to establish, are, in fact, killing us. Few voices in government or business have acceptable or timely solutions to reverse the deadly march of progress. By slowing the machinery of industry, governments risk creating massive unemployment, we are told, and I can accept this. But still, the evidence of humankind’s carbon footprint is growing daily. The biosphere is at a breaking point, and it will lash back in ways more deadly than the social and economic threats — crime and revolution, an even larger divide between rich and poor, etc. — that critics say will result from scaling back. We are being tested. Around the world, Canadians are regarded as natureloving people, but given our mad rush for oil in the West (and East), the clear-cutting of old-growth forests, and the collapse of our fisheries, it is an outdated, even curious designation. Our boreal forests are as vital to ecological diversity and carbon capture as the Amazon basin — two great lungs, without which we would fry to a crisp — but while much has been written and said about the Brazilians hacking away at their precious resource, little is said, or written, or even known about our own. With what is going on in the forests of northern Alberta, we may be on the cusp of destroying an irreplaceable contiguous ecosystem. Tree planting is fine, but saplings take years to grow into effective carbon sinks.

By virtue of this country’s seemingly limitless space, and more particularly by virtue of our specific history, Canadians have developed a fairly unique relationship to the environment and to the geological time consequence. For 200 years, much of Canada was actually a corporation, the Hudson’s Bay Company, whose chief purpose was to extract. First came pelts, then trees, and then with Confederation the railroad, our first great nation-building project, and the extraction of minerals on a significant scale. We may think otherwise — especially in the increasingly urban metropoles that are now redefining the nation — but Canada’s natural resource wealth has always been for sale, for the taking, and we have all benefited enormously from this. It’s on us, as athletes say before a big game or after a big loss. The current crisis crept up on us partly because government structures — the ministries of the environment and natural resources, for instance — were from the beginning subservient to the all-important role our governments and corporations played in opening up the land and water to the ages of extraction and progress. It turns out that Canadians are thought of as nature-loving not because of specific actions taken, but because we have more wilderness than anyone else. The postcard images are fabulous, but the question now is: “What will we do with this natural bounty?” I realize that in some respects my photographs are shocking, that to some they represent answers rather than questions. This is not my intention. I’m still in that old Volvo, and my work is still an exploration. But the photographs are real, and it is worth asking, I believe, what we should do with them. Consider a different picture. Consider that the oil already extracted from the Alberta tar sands represents a tiny percentage of the region’s estimated reserves; that this area is already one of the largest surface-mining operations in the world; that it includes one of the largest toxic lakes ever created. Already the region looks like a vast dystopia, out of sight for most of us — but for how long can the secret hold? British Columbia novelist William Gibson has written: “It is becoming unprecedentedly difficult for anyone, anyone at all, to keep a secret. In the age of the leak and the blog, of evidence extraction and link discovery, truths will either out or be outed, later if not sooner. This is something I would bring to the attention of every diplomat, politician and corporate leader: the future, eventually, will find you out.” Picture the age of evidence extraction. Canadians have a choice: to elect leaders who have a vision of how to make sustainable development real or to carry on with our business and history as usual. What we have going for us is general well-being, a decent heart, and educated people sitting on a very large chest of gold. If resources are what we have, and sustainable development is what we want, then why not get on with a new age: extracting what we need without destroying the places we take it from.v
illustration: chris buchan

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t h e wa l r u s

so ciety

mone ybag s
• • • • • • • •

Today’s super-wealthy are as rich as Rockefeller, but will they be as generous?
by Bruce Livesey photography by Gabriel Jones

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here are few things more boring than a class analysis, some say. Karl Marx’s “fetishism of the commodity” or Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” can kill a dinner party. But celebrity, especially celebrity attached to wealth — real, gigantic wealth — is another matter altogether. And so, while Conrad Black’s trial in Chicago concentrated on the arcane legalities of noncompete agreements and whether his Lordship pocketed tens of millions of dollars that didn’t belong to him, what sparked a real frisson about this case were the accounts of orgiastic spending Black and his vampish wife, Barbara Amiel, indulged in at the pinnacle of their power. When is enough enough, people ask, mad, envious, curious. Three opulent mansions and a Park Avenue condo, a private jet and Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith, and Amiel’s “environmental chamber” — her dozen crocodile-skin Hermès Birkin handbags, the Renaud

Pellegrino evening bags (whose handles are encased in jewels), the vast collection of Manolo Blahnik shoes — are part of the answer. But there were also the ludicrously expensive holidays in Bora-Bora, the parties, and, of course, the staff — the maids, chefs, chauffeurs, footmen, housemen, guards, and seventeen butlers, one of whom earned $130,000 annually, plus board. (Good help is hard to come by, apparently, and once found must be compensated accordingly.) “Nobody has seventeen butlers,” snorts Peter C. Newman, Black’s former confidant and biographer (and Amiel’s former boss), who covered the tycoon’s trial. “Nobody had seventeen butlers even during the Gilded Age.” Newman’s quip provides an interesting historical comparison. As the Blacks’ pharaonic appetite for luxury illustrates, we are in the midst of a new Gilded Age, a period where “extravagance knows no bounds,” as Amiel her-

self put it. The world’s richest man, Bill Gates, is worth $56 billion (US) and lives in a 66,000-square-foot lakeside compound near Seattle, valued at approximately $100 million. Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft, owns a 413foot yacht complete with a cinema, recording studio, two helicopters, and a ten-person submarine. To call it a boat is absurd, says Shinan Govani, the National Post’s gossip columnist, who attended a party on Allen’s ship at the Cannes film festival. “It’s a country unto itself.” In a manner that has become familiar, Ira Rennert became one of America’s highest paid executives in the 1990s by accumulating nearly $500 million in dividends and management fees from his companies, mostly metals and steel plants (one of which, AM General, builds the gas-guzzling Hummer and Humvee). His duplex apartment on Park Avenue is replete with antiques and Impressionist paintings. He owns a palatial

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spread in Israel, a Gulfstream V jet, and, the pièce de résistance, a 100,000square-foot oceanfront mansion in the Hamptons — a twenty-nine bedroom mini-Versailles on sixty-four acres with beach and garden pavilions, basketball, squash, and tennis courts, and a theatre. Not to be outdone by US billionaires, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Alsaud of Saudi Arabia, the world’s thirteenth richest man, owns a 317-room, 400,000square-foot palace in Riyadh. Costing $130 million to build, it has eight elevators and more than 500 television sets, and the grounds, in this desert kingdom, feature a soccer field. Canada has twenty-three billionaires, with David Thomson, controlling $22 billion (US), leading the pack. And many of our hyper-rich also enjoy their toys. David Ho, the Vancouverbased ceo of the now-defunct Harmony Airways, reportedly owns a golf course, a thirty-eight-foot Miami Vice-style cigarette racing boat, a custom-made Ferrari Testarossa, and a 13,000-square-foot mansion. He also owns two homes in Hawaii, one of which is valued at over $20 million. Heather Reisman and Gerald Schwartz of Indigo and Onex fame, own homes in Nantucket and Palm Beach, a yacht and a plane, and live in a huge Toronto spread. They safari with Hollywood royalty like Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

show that wages for the working major- just over $500,000 ($1.5 million in toity have either flattened out or declined day’s dollars). In 2005, the 100 highfor more than two decades. est-paid Canadian ceos took home an While most Canadians consider average annual salary of $9 million. themselves part of a broad middle class, Whereas executive pay was once almost that designation has shifted significant- entirely made up of salaries and bonusly. In the post-World War II era and es, the use of stock options as inducethrough the 1970s, an ever-increasing ments took hold when corporations number of Canadian families — sup- started wooing a small class of superported largely by the salary of a single star ceos. As a result, in both Canada wage-earner — improved their stan- and the US, executive compensation dards of living and socked money away. has gone through the roof. Between Today, incomes are growing much more 1998 and 2000, Michael Eisner, then at slowly if at all, and Canadians are bor- the helm of Walt Disney, cashed in over rowing more and more. As in the US, $680 million ( US) in stock options. Last much of Canada’s “middle class” is ac- March, the co-ceos of Canada’s Power tually two or three paycheques away Corp., André and Paul Desmarais Jr., from going broke, and many are wonder- earned a combined $35 million by exering what separates them from the priv- cising some of their stock options. Says ileged few. David Green, a professor of economics In the 1970s, American ceos made at the University of British Columbia, roughly thirty times what average work- “The right wing managed to win the arers hauled in; today, they make 300 gument that what is good for the rich is times the average wage. The chairman good for all of us.” of Wal-Mart, America’s largest corporBut is it? In North America, the wealth ation, earns $23 million (US) annually; divide has become a canyon, and critthe company’s non-supervisory staff ics believe that the concentration of so take home $18,000 (US). Thirty years much money pooled in the hands of ago, Jack Armstrong of Imperial Oil a tiny elite is corrupting our instituwas Canada’s highest-paid ceo. He made tions and dissipating economic vitality.

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n 2003, according to Forbes magazine, there were 476 billionaires in the world. Today, there are 946, with an average net worth of $3.6 billion and a combined wealth of $3.5 trillion. ( The current US budget is $2.7 trillion.) Five percent of Americans control just over half of the country’s wealth, and collectively the richest 300,000 Americans earn almost as much income as the bottom 150 million. A study co-authored by McMaster University economics professor Michael Veall and Emmanuel Saez at UC Berkeley revealed that in Canada, the wealth controlled by our most affluent class has risen dramatically over the past thirty years. Today, the top 1 percent account for 13.5 percent of all income, as compared with 7.5 percent in the late 1970s; other studies

“A Fool in Love” – Ike and Tina Turner and the Ikettes (1960)

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illustration: matthew thurber

j uly /au g u s t 2 0 0 7

“By the time Ronald Reagan and Paul Volcker were in power, they had an agenda. It was class warfare from above, and people at the bottom didn’t know what hit them.”
Both national governments are becoming less relevant in the face of emergent plutocracies not necessarily loyal to local economies — perhaps one reason North America’s manufacturing base is in such sad shape. Nor does either national government seem interested in solving the myriad economic, health, environmental, educational, and social problems that cash-strapped local governments cannot address. Princeton economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has argued that the growing gap between rich and poor in countries like Canada and the US has a haunting parallel with countries across Latin America, where for decades dramatic wealth inequality so fractured societies that revolution from below was a constant threat. It still is. “This, ultimately, is the most pressing issue we face as a society today,” Krugman wrote. state benefits for the rich like protect- Commerce, the memo claimed that big ive tariffs, free land for railways, and business had “shown little stomach for anti-strike measures. The codependent a hard-nosed contest with their critics” relationship that developed between and that in terms of framing governthe state and the super-wealthy is per- ment policy, “the American business haps best exemplified by the Panic of executive is truly the ‘forgotten man.’ ” With the US mired in Vietnam and 1893, when a deep depression led to a run on the gold supply. President Gro- anti-war demonstrations becoming ver Cleveland asked financier J. P. Mor- more vociferous, Powell Jr. attacked gan to create a syndicate to campus liberals, Ralph Nasupply the US Treasury with der and his acolytes, and the gold. Morgan did, and the napress. While the stage was tional bank was rescued from set for a firm business rebutinsolvency. “That episode illustal, economic preoccupations trated the bankers were more took a back seat to Watergate powerful than the government,” and the US’s failure in Vietnam. says Alan Lessoff, a professor Dispiriting years followed but, of history at Illinois State University by the late 1970s, with Jimmy Carter and an expert on the Gilded Age. in the White House and corporate Special interests have always exer- profits declining, some precipitously, cised undue influence on society, but the counter-revolution that Powell Jr. after the shocks of two world wars and had attempted to spark gained renewed the Depression, most North Ameri- vigour. cans experienced an unparalleled rise Powell Jr.’s manifesto spelled out in wages and living standards between an array of tactics that big business the late 1940s and roughly 1980. By the could employ to challenge critics on mid-1970s, one-quarter of the US work- campus, in the media and courts, and force and over one-third of Canadian in the political arena. Most notable in workers were unionized, and working this percolating ideological war was the people were consistently winning sig- formative role of conservative think nificant wage concessions. Fordism — tanks. The Heritage Foundation, fundthe notion that increasing wage rates ed initially by Joseph Coors, beat the for workers meant more consumers drum for economic deregulation, a with more money to spend — prevailed theme also central to the American in heavy industry. “It was an unpreced- Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute, ented period in the history of capital- and the Hudson Institute, among others. ism, where for a variety of reasons Such groups began producing reports — working people were able to advance customarily distilled into press releases their demands,” recalls Jim Stanford, and disseminated to major media outan economist with the Canadian Auto lets — as well as training young ideoWorkers union. logues to staff key government and But not all was quiet in corporate congressional posts. If the initial imAmerica. In 1971, just prior to being petus was to promote Ronald Reagan’s appointed by Richard Nixon to the US “trickle down” economic theories, “exSupreme Court, Lewis F. Powell Jr. — a pert analysts” from conservative think prominent corporate lawyer who sat tanks were soon dominating the televion the boards of more than fifteen cor- sion talk show circuit, radio programs, porations — wrote a memorandum and print journalism, and they were claiming that “the American economic weighing in on practically every consystem is under broad attack” and that ceivable subject. businesspeople must “confront this This business counterattack was problem as a primary responsibility highly organized, says Doug Henwood, of corporate management.” Circulated publisher of the New York-based Left to members of the US Chamber of Business Observer, which covers Wall

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he original Gilded Age extended from the end of the US Civil War to the early years of the twentieth century, an era when industrialization took root and a small cabal took control of critical sectors of the economy. Given the failure of the political classes to prevent the war between the states and the bankrupt economy that followed, in some respects the emerging dominance of private capital was a necessary evil. While committed first and foremost to empire building, robber barons such as John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and J. P. Morgan also invested massively in infrastructure, helping to build the nation through roads and railroads, universities, libraries, hospitals, etc. Such men amassed vast fortunes, some of which they spent on elegant manors and castles staffed with armies of servants in New York City and Newport, Rhode Island. Canada’s own Gilded Age arrived later on, but its legacy can still be seen in Montreal’s Golden Square Mile, a neighbourhood of giant and regal homes that hug Mount Royal. Extraordinary wealth in the US led to political power and highly useful

illustration: mike constable

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Street. “By the time Ronald Reagan and in large and visible wealth disparities. [Federal Reserve chairman] Paul Vol- When everyone is poor they are all in cker were in power, they had an agen- it together; when everyone is needy da. It was class warfare from above, and save for a privileged few, the elites people at the bottom didn’t know what become a target. Enlightened self-inhit them.” terest should drive those at the top to Canada came a little later to this distribute wealth evenly and to “lift all game, but ultimately the Fraser and boats,” but ceo compensation today C. D. Howe institutes and the Canad- is not necessarily tied to shareholder ian Council of Chief Executives came gains or profit growth (and in many to play a similar role: all call for cap- quarters shareholders are indeed feelital to be freed from constraints im- ing hosed down, to paraphrase Conposed by governments, all promote rad Black). free trade, are generally critical of conBetween 1990 and 2001, as measured sumer protection laws and the welfare by Standard & Poor’s 500 index, share state, and make regular appearances in prices increased by an exceptional 300 the media. percent, corporate profit growth was a In the early 1980s, Volcker drove solid 116 percent, and ceo pay skyrockup interest rates in order to offset in- eted by 535 percent. Suggesting that flation, plunging the North American superb corporate stewardship is not economy into its deepest recession always the principal reason for extrasince the Great Depression. By the ordinary pay packages, last year fortime the Reagan administration broke mer Loblaw president John Lederer the 1981 air traffic controllers’ strike by was paid $22 million as he was ushered replacing unionized workers with scab out the door. This spring, the company labour, Fordism had effectively been announced its first annual loss in ninedefeated. Unions were on the defen- teen years. sive and corporations were extracting And then there is the case of John wage concessions. Roth, former ceo of Nortel Networks. With increased globalization and When Roth took over in 1997, Nortel freer trade, North American workers was already a high-tech powerhouse. were soon forced to compete for jobs Roth then spent $32 billion on largely with low-wage workers in the develop- useless Internet start-ups that generating world. The era of the closed union ed few sales. By the summer of 2000, shop was over, and organized labour with the Internet bubble about to burst, wilted as a force for equalization in the company’s stock peaked at $124.50. North American society. Today, the Within weeks, Roth cashed in his stock portion of the private sector workforce options, and by year’s end he had pockthat is unionized is 7.4 percent in the eted $135 million. While Roth and PR flaks continued US and 17 percent in Canada. Explains the caw’s Stanford, “Working people to issue rosy projection statements, the have lost power, not maintained their company was in fact hemorrhaging share of the pie, and seen a decline in money. In 2001, as the crisis mounted, their living standards.” Roth quit, retiring to his estate in CalExacerbating the wealth divide was edon, Ontario. Nortel spiralled into nearthe emergence of large institutional insolvency, its stock bottoming out at shareholders, including mutual and 67 cents per share. More than 60,000 of pension-plan funds, with get-rich-quick its 100,000 employees were given pink mindsets. This pressured corporations slips, and shareholders’ retirement to increase profit margins regardless of portfolios were wiped out. “It seems the consequences. Across a number of inherently unfair when you see a guy industries, the security of workers and like Roth living high off the hog and the middle class began to slip. then the new version [of Nortel] trying to get it together and coughing up all of he reasons for the slippage are com- this money to settle lawsuits,” says Joel plex, but the result could be grow- Rochon, a Toronto lawyer whose firm ing disorder. Social unrest tends to be launched one of the class-action sharerooted less in general poverty than holder lawsuits against the company.

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f Roth’s big mistake was hubris, elsewhere local investment seems to be drying up. By and large, the plutocrats of the initial Gilded Age invested in national projects. Business — in the US, steel or insurance, say; in Canada, timber or booze — came first, and because monopoly control was sought, it was often ruthless. But as Rockefeller, Carnegie, and others “developed a conscience” (or were pressured into doing so), spending spilled over into the arts, education, health care, etc. Many of today’s large corporations, however, are transnational (and highly diversified) and, as such, the necessity for homecountry investment with the requisite socio-cultural infrastructure is less pronounced. In 2006, non-financial Canadian businesses accumulated about $40 billion in surplus cash. But these record profits aren’t being pumped back into the economy at a rate that will maintain prosperity. “In the sixties and seventies, [companies] would reinvest over 100 percent of cash flow,” says Stanford. “Now it is 70 to 80 percent and the rest they let pile up.” According to Stanford and others, North America’s business community is showing little interest in saving what’s left of the manufacturing base. Investments offshore, where economies are developing at a faster rate and the regulatory regimes are more lax, are more attractive than at home. In February, auto-industry analyst Ron Pinelli was quoted in the New York Times, saying: “If Chrysler disappeared, would anyone’s life change, except for the people that work for the company? ” In a globalized world, just as corporations chase cheap labour offshore, local concerns must now fight for philanthropy dollars with more visible developing-world crises such as hiv/ aids, basic immunization shots, and so forth. In an age of instant communication, Zambia can become more compelling than the South Bronx, Watts, or Jamestown.

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The Mall
by Evelyn Lau Today I choose it over the ocean. Over the trees, their fall leaves a flock of orange parrots perched on branches. Over the chandelier of sunlight broken on blue waves, over flowers shaped like teacups or trumpets, over the jade garden where once I dreamed I wore a green velvet dress clasped tight at the waist like the grip of a man’s hand. I walk towards it like a Zombie, this strange planet suspended in time, a space station in the rainforest inhabited by teenage girls wearing glitter eyeshadow and slippery lipgloss. I skate along its arid walkways as if on an invisible track, away from my life. Here it could be day or night, the walls stripped of clocks, music moaning a mindless refrain, not a window in sight. The stores hold their mouths open like seductresses, radiating heat and light and a bright array of wares, a sorbet rainbow of merchandise delectable as pastilles. Outside, the lives of grasses and insects and breezes go on. After a day at the mall, stepping back into what’s left of the world, the sunlight will sear your skin, and the gallons of fresh air will pour over you like pain.

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he wealthy have always claimed that philanthropy is the great corrective, helping to balance out inequities. “I don’t think you can find a better, more efficient way to get millions of 41

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dollars put back into society than to have the rich choose to do it,” says high-society chronicler Rosemary Sexton. Rockefeller and Carnegie gave away hundreds of millions (billions in today’s dollars) to build museums, libraries, universities, and hospitals, or to be disbursed by foundations. In 2004, the last year for which there are complete records in Canada, there were 2,400 active grant-making foundations that donated more than $1.2 billion and had over $14 billion in assets, combined. Both numbers are considerably higher today, and in recent years Canadian business leaders have given enormous sums to the arts, higher education, and health care. In the US, there are currently more than 70,000 foundations with roughly $550 billion in assets. US foundations donated over $40 billion in 2006. Most famously, Bill Gates and his wife Melinda, co-founders of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, have given nearly $30 billion (US) to reduce the spread of disease, poverty, and premature death in the developing world, alongside anti-poverty initiatives in the US. Warren Buffett pledged $31 billion to the Gates Foundation as well. Sounding a critical note in the New York Times Magazine, bioethics professor Peter Singer, of the Center for Human Values at Princeton University, wrote: “When wealthy people give away money, we can always say that they are doing it to ease their consciences or generate favorable publicity.” Some have speculated that Bill Gates, for one, is partly trying to upgrade his image after being pummelled in antitrust suits brought against Microsoft a few years ago. Others, like the Los Angeles Times, have pointed out that some of the Gates Foundation’s investments run counter to its stated mandate. To be sure, foundations are tax havens that allow wealthy individuals to shelter money and, if so desired, create honourable family legacies. But gifts are gifts, and given the growing importance of the philanthropic sector, the more important questions are: What types of initiatives get support from

foundations? And what happens to basic democratic institutions when a select few exercise so much control? According to Toronto socialite and fundraiser Catherine Nugent, wealthy people “like to see bricks and mortar to put their names on, as opposed to research . . . research is like fixing pipes under the house, you can’t really see it.” Her point is borne out by the Million Dollar List, maintained by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. On the allocation of foundation grants and gifts of more than $1 million in the fourth quarter of 2006, a scant 2 percent went specifically to human services. While he is a staunch supporter of philanthropy, Singer expresses concern that “a few wealthy individuals” can effectively decide whether “billions go to research vaccines or viruses that kill millions in the developing world.” He argues that it would be “better that a democratic process determines where the funds go.” But that “democratic process” is called the tax regime, and one sure reason for foundations is the quid pro quo of control over where the grants go in exchange for providing the money in the first place.

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t would be churlish to criticize major grants to the arts, for instance, which are increasingly reliant on private philanthropy. However, so are many other sectors of the economy, and affordable housing projects, for one, are generally not the kind of bricks-and-mortar projects that Nugent describes as appealing to the foundation sector. It might be fine for Ruth Lilly, heir to the Lilly pharmaceutical fortune, to give $200 million (US) to Poetry magazine, but the homeless in the Rust Belt might have liked to have seen that lucre come their way. Ultimately, there are genuine questions to be asked about whether society as a whole can afford to be subjected to the whims of a tiny elite; about whether foundation support for arts and culture, or for higher education, health care, or for myriad other critical areas, takes the state off the hook; and finally, about what happens to the los-

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ers in the granting sweepstakes. The record of the first Gilded Age was decidedly mixed. What of the second? Krugman worries that the monumental upward shift of wealth is denying too many North Americans the opportunities that they need, and that real cleavages are forming between the few haves and the legions of have-nots. “The statistical evidence shows, unequal societies tend to be corrupt societies,” he recently wrote. “When there are huge disparities in wealth, the rich have both the motive and the means to corrupt the system on their behalf.” Without significant changes, Krugman envisions history repeating itself, not necessarily with a new Gilded Age, but in the form of Latin American dictatorships of the rich. But what if the increasingly rich donated significantly more than they currently do? What if philanthropy became a true third sector, as robust and varied as the private and public spheres? Again, the chief difficulties with vast wealth disparity occur when it becomes so visible that resentment is inevitable. But what if the new plutocrats gave up their palaces and hoggish consumption and plowed their gains, whether legitimate or not, less into the playgrounds of the upwardly mobile (the opera houses, museums, and think tanks), and more into urban renewal, public education, and the like? If Bill Gates has thrown down the gauntlet and become more powerful, more generous, and more influential than many nation-states, what if others followed in his large wake? Many can afford to make a significant dent to remedy the ravages of inequality, and if they did so, what could the left say then? It would be wrong, at this point, to equate Bill Gates and Warren Buffett with Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller. Gates and Buffett have directed most of their philanthropy at the developing world; for Carnegie and Rockefeller, the developing world was at home. Today, the problems overseas are dire, of that there is no doubt, but much of North America is also hurting, and it is saying “charity begins at home.” How will our moneyed classes respond?

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t h e wa l r u s

foreign affairs

3d
v i s i on
Can Canada reconcile its defence, diplomacy, and development objectives in Afghanistan?
by Taylor Owen and Patrick Travers photography by Martin Adler

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hundred and twenty years before accidentally struck a house during a Canada’s involvement in Afghan- firefight between nato troops and the istan, a British prime minister Taliban. President Hamid Karzai has identified the issue at the heart of cur- summed up Afghanistan’s vulnerable rent attempts to defeat the Taliban and position, stating, “We can’t prevent the reconstruct the country. In the midst of terrorists from coming from Pakistan, the “Great Game” between the British and we can’t prevent the coalition from Empire and Tsarist Russia over influ- bombing the terrorists, and our childence in Central Asia, William Gladstone ren are dying because of this.” Karzai’s comment encapsulates the urged his fellow citizens to “remember that the sanctity of life in the hill vil- challenge Canada now faces in Afghanlages of Afghanistan, among the winter istan. We must win local support for snows, is as inviolable in the eye of Al- reconstruction efforts while also makmighty God, as can be your own.” ing war. These two tasks are not easily Preserving the sanctity of life, how- reconciled. As Afghan legislator Shuever, is difficult when the enemy strikes kria Barakzai has warned, killing civilunexpectedly, blends into the local pop- ians will undermine nato’s mission in ulace, and enjoys growing support. Last Afghanistan (to say nothing of harsh October, for example, some twenty Af- treatment of detainees). ghan civilians were killed during two Although this poses a dilemma, it’s separate nato attacks. First, a 2 a.m. no reason to leave — a point on which helicopter strike on Taliban fighters a near consensus has emerged. While destroyed several huts in the village the Liberal Party supports moving forof Ashogoh. The same day, a rocket ces out of Kandahar province (where the

heaviest fighting is) in 2009, all national parties save the New Democrats agree that the humanitarian costs of withdrawing completely from the country outweigh the many challenges of staying. Indeed, successive Canadian governments have ultimately justified the mission in similar terms. Unlike Gladstone, we are trying to help the Afghans build a viable and independent state. With the official debate over Canada’s presence resolved for the time being, the question remains: how do we go about building peace while we’re still at war?

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t the outset of our involvement in Afghanistan, shortly after 9/11, a senior official from a Canadian aid organization had a call put out to the Department of National Defence to find out if we were at war. With strict rules about neutrality in place, his agency wanted to determine what its involve-

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According to the Senlis Council, the total defence expenditure for all parties has outpaced development funding more than tenfold, and the ratio is similar for Canadian spending.
ment would be. An officer put the agency on hold, only to return and say that he’d have to get back to them. In part, this confusion reflects the changing nature of international conflict. Canada’s long-held (and somewhat mythical) view of peacekeeping does not apply when the peace must be built before it can be kept. The use of a neutral blue helmet force to separate two warring armies simply doesn’t work in countries like Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Sierra Leone, and Afghanistan, where fighting over territory is often only one part of a loosely defined and highly complex struggle between organized crime rings, warlords, and, increasingly, insurgents. In such cases, poverty and instability lead to a vicious cycle of underdevelopment and violence. It takes more than soldiers to address the problem. Recognizing this, Canada has shifted to a robust form of peace-building that brings defence into closer contact with diplomatic and development activities. Paul Martin introduced this approach first in speeches, then in his 2005 international policy statement, under the name “3D.” The Conservative government has since replaced this with the term “whole-of-government,” but the underlying philosophy remains the same. The Department of National Defence (dnd), Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (dfait), and the Canadian International Development Agency (cida) must now work together to execute a common strategy. Reconciling military, diplomatic, and humanitarian objectives may be a more effective way of stabilizing failed and fragile states, but it also creates inevitable trade-offs and requires a high degree of collaboration. 3D is simply easier on paper than it is in practice. dahar on January 15, 2006, it was a strik- killed in a clearly marked truck; a Taling blow to Canada’s strategy in Afghan- iban spokesperson stated that aid oristan. In many ways, Berry personified ganizations thought to be working for 3D. Working alongside development American interests were legitimate tarspecialists and protected by the mili- gets. On July 28, after twenty-four years tary, he was part of the effort to rebuild of active involvement in Afghanistan, the country. Since Berry’s death, non- msf announced that it would be pullmilitary personnel have largely been ing out. confined to secure bases in Kandahar. The issue of civilian protection is His replacement, Gavin Buchan, would central to the 3D challenge. We may like to “go out every day and talk to need to rethink a wide spectrum of people on the street . . . but we’re not tactics, from how we treat detainees to there yet and we’re not going to be the nature of our military engagement. there in the foreseeable future.” If Bu- Air strikes, for example, can be an efchan and other diplomats are unable fective means of fighting the Taliban in to do their jobs, and if development hostile terrain with limited risk to our workers are similarly constrained, how soldiers, but they also increase the likecan Canada claim to be implement- lihood that innocent civilians will be ing 3D? killed, turning local populations against This question is behind much of the Canadian troops. criticism of our mission in AfghaniThe riots that have repeatedly brostan. Analysts have noted that funding ken out across the country protesting has been heavily weighted to- accidental deaths have borne this out. ward the military, at both the As Brigadier Richard Nugee, the chief national and international spokesperson for the UN-authorized, levels. According to a 2006 re- nato-led International Security Assistport by the Senlis Council, the ance Force (isaf) has said, “The single total defence expenditure for thing that we have done wrong and we all parties in Afghanistan has are striving extremely hard to improve outpaced development fund- on is killing innocent civilians.” Is this ing more than tenfold, and the ratio a fair appraisal of the costs, though? Put is similar for Canadian spending, al- another way: if we knew terrorists were though exact figures are hard to come meeting at a home in Vancouver, Toronby. On these grounds, it is difficult to to, or Montreal, would we authorize air dispute former foreign affairs minister strikes? Within a 3D approach, the calLloyd Axworthy’s claim that the mis- culus for acceptable human casualties must be re-evaluated. sion “has become one big ‘D.’ ” Non-governmental organizations John Watson, president of care Canhave also been vocal in their disap- ada, a leading international relief and proval of military encroachment into development organization, believes the field of humanitarian assistance. For we’re not appropriately balancing miliexample, plainclothed US special forces tary benefits against the wider costs. He have been known to use the kind of places some of the blame on the miliwhite trucks that are ubiquitous in the tary itself, which, he argues, is slowdevelopment community. There was ly co-opting development assistance also the US administration’s decision under the rubric of defence. He points to drop food-ration packages roughly out that many of the concepts now the same size and colour of unexplod- associated with 3D peace-building — ed cluster bombs from military planes. such as civil-military cooperation, provThe confusion over the role of humani- incial reconstruction teams, and “threetarian workers that resulted from these block war” — originated in military and similar incidents severely jeopard- discourse, prescribe a lead role for the ized their security. On June 2, 2004, five military, and value development and Médecins Sans Frontières workers were diplomacy only insofar as they are use-

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hen diplomat Glyn Berry, whose job was to facilitate relationships between a wide range of Afghan groups, was killed by a suicide bomber in Kan-

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illustration: balint zsako

3 D Vi s i o n

ful for the advancement of military objectives. It’s humanitarianism as a campaign for hearts and minds rather than as a moral responsibility. It will not always be possible to simultaneously achieve all our goals, and some policies will inevitably contradict others. Indeed, Canadian involvement in Afghanistan has been many things to many people. What began as an exercise in national security and a response to global terrorism has gradually shifted toward humanitarian assistance and reconstruction. From a broader diplomatic perspective, it has also served to fulfill our commitment to nato and provide an opportunity to repair relations with the United States, strained by our refusals to commit troops to the Iraq war and participate in ballistic missile defence. Serving multiple interests is justifiable, even desirable. The real problem is that while 3D calls for the integration of defence, diplomacy, and development, it does not lay out how they should be integrated.

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you can’t build schools in a war zone. The initial Canadian team in Kabul Others suggest that the suffering that was acclaimed for their collaborative persists in the absence of humanitarian work. They benefited from their small assistance is increasing support for the size and the presence of an active amTaliban, making the military fight more bassador; personal connections and difficult. dnd, in conjunction with the joint experience in the field allowed Prime Minister’s Office, has taken the them to overcome bureaucratic cultures. lead on strategic decision-making in But with increased deployment to Kanconflicts, which makes sense if secur- dahar, the advantage of scale was lost. ity is viewed as a prerequisite for hu- As the Taliban grew in strength, new manitarian action. security restrictions emerged, and the But the reality is that the three Ds military took the lead. In Ottawa, the level of coordination are fundamentally interconnected, and the only way this tenuous balance can between cida, dnd, and dfait has seen be managed is through collaboration — some improvement. While the Prime the cornerstone of 3D peace building. Minister’s Office and dnd continue to If a particular military strategy has drive much of our Afghanistan policy, humanitarian implications, all rele- the three Ds are more sensitive to each vant stakeholders need to be aware other’s actions than ever before. Howof them from the outset. This requires ever, more integration is necessary. Stea level of public communication that phen Harper recently appointed an doesn’t currently exist. dnd, cida, and associate deputy minister within dfait dfait have different mandates, operat- to facilitate coordination, but it remains ing procedures, and cultures, as well as to be seen if the position, which lacks the different perspectives on Canada’s in- authority exercised by the Prime Minternational policy and their respective ister’s Office or the Privy Council Ofroles. As an old adage about the UN fice, will have any real influence over the he relationship between war and de- reminds us, everybody is in favour powerfully independent and resourcevelopment in Afghanistan is some- of coordination, but no one likes to rich cida and dnd. thing of a Catch-22. Many argue that be coordinated. The United Kingdom, an early adopter of 3D, has gone a step further by tying funding to collaboration. Instead of asking their development, defence, and diplomatic ministries to work together, Britain has made funding conditional on it through a joint-funding model called “conflict prevention pools.” Staffed by officials from across the bureaucracy, the pools bid alongside parent departments for resources. This brings policy analysts together permanently and establishes incentives for truly collaborative decision making. This may not be the right solution for Canada, but something similar may prove necessary if the departments continue to compete for influence and retain vestiges of their traditional roles. Of course, if 3D rests on the assumption that only a comprehensive approach to the problems plaguing Afghanistan will be successful, then our partners must also coordinate. But we are operating as part of a thirty-seven-member coalition, isaf, in which national contingents often have different mandates, priorities, and tactics. In September “You Belong to Me” – Jo Stafford (1952) 2006, for example, the UK negotiat-

illustration: marco cibola

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CBC LITERARY AWARDS

Wild about words?
Send us your unpublished poetry, short stories or creative nonfiction.

ed a deal in the Musa Qala district of Helmand province whereby tribal leaders would take control of the area if both Taliban and British forces withdrew. The United States viewed the compromise as a surrender, and when the Taliban overran Musa Qala in February 2007, isaf, under US leadership, authorized air strikes rather than renegotiating the deal. Debates over relative contributions and rules of engagement have also been fierce. The US, having initially secured the country with Operation Enduring Freedom, refocused most of its resources and troops to Iraq before it could contribute to the rebuilding process. Had the US stayed, Afghanistan would likely be more stable, and non-military personnel like Gavin Buchan would be in a better position to do their jobs.

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e have a long way to go in Afghanistan. A recent Canadian Senate report pointed out that medieval societies change slowly, corruption is endemic, and the Taliban has the home-court advantage. Unfortunately, the Senate’s recommendations, which included additional military training, direct cida

funding for military-led development projects, and the establishment of a corruption reduction strategy, simply do not match the scale of the problems they are meant to address. If we are serious about staying, we need widespread public engagement. Behind facile debates about supporting the troops lie crucial questions. How exactly do we define success? What are our ultimate goals and objectives? What is our strategy for achieving them? Finding answers has been difficult partly because information has been so hard to come by. All public communication from the departments operating in Afghanistan (even from senior civil servants) must now be cleared by the Prime Minister’s Office. In November 2006, the Conservative government spent a reported $76,000 on focus groups to evaluate its communications strategy on Afghanistan. The results suggested that justifying the mission as a response to terrorism and through appeals to freedom invoked, unfavourably, President Bush’s stance on the war in Iraq and that the preferred language would emphasize progress, development, and our commitment to

$6,000 first prize $4,000 second prize
courtesy of the Canada Council for the Arts. CBC will offer visibility to the winners and their winning works, which will also be published in Air Canada’s enRoute magazine.

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Contest deadline: November 1st, 2007
For contest details, go to www.cbc.ca/literaryawards or call 1-877-888-6788

“No One’s Gonna Love You” – Nicole Willis and the Soul Investigators (2005)

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illustration: balint zsako

j uly /au g u s t 2 0 0 7

reconstruction. This raises perhaps the most important question about Canadian involvement in Afghanistan: how do we explain our inability to live up to the political rhetoric surrounding 3D peace-building? It may be that 3D is not what it seems, that the mission we’re being sold obscures less palatable objectives. The incentive to dress hard military objectives in soft humanitarian clothing has been present from the start, regardless of the party in charge. Protecting the country from future terrorist attacks is certainly as important as projecting humanitarian values, but there is no honour or integrity in mistaking one for the other. It’s also possible that the strategy itself is flawed. Perhaps the civil service and isaf are currently incapable of the type of collaboration 3D requires. And even if the political will is there, the resources may be lacking. Peace-building experiences in Africa and the Balkans suggest that the overall international contribution to Afghanistan remains substantially below the levels of military and economic support usually necessary to rebuild a state. Our talk of 3D peace-building may ultimately be too ambitious for the circumstances. However, this conclusion suggests an uncomfortable set of alternatives: either we aren’t truly committed to Afghanistan, or such nation-building projects are beyond our capacity. But if the principles of 3D are sound, and the challenges are part and parcel of implementing a new approach, then actually putting the strategy into action should make a marked difference. In this case, 3D offers Canada a unique opportunity to once again demonstrate international leadership on issues of peace and security. One conclusion is absolutely clear: lives, resources, and opportunities are at stake, and only after we have defined exactly what we intend to accomplish in Afghanistan will we be able to assess the prospects for success and justify the necessary sacrifices. — To listen to a podcast on Canadian foreign policy by Jennifer Welsh, professor of international affairs at the University of Oxford, please visit walrusmagazine.com/more.

Big Paw
by Priscila Uppal The cat’s paw keeps getting bigger. Soon we will have to give it a name. At the vet, the young receptionists all laugh. Tell us it’s perfectly natural though they haven’t seen a single case like it. We purchase pills, wrestle vitamins, work cream after cream into red skin. The paw gets bigger. Our house gets smaller. Tiny as a toothpick in a club sandwich. We can’t keep anything safe. Last night, the paw swiped our memories clean. Tomorrow, it threatens to x-ray the sky.

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t h e wa l r u s

politics

charisma
Do we want our political leaders to be sexy and playful, or are we content with being bored?
by Jeff Ryan photography by Stacy Arezou Mehrfar

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t’s a rally-the-troops gathering at the Franco-Manitoban Cultural Centre in the Saint Boniface district of Winnipeg, and the January 2006 election is forty-eight hours away. Stephen Harper, a policy wonk with an angry, vituperative side, is surging in the polls and appearing, incredibly, to be a populist alternative. The lights dim, the canned music softens and then bleeds out. Liberal faithful are desperate for their man, their leader, to hit the button. The lights dim further, and the blood rises. All start to chant in unison: “Paul. Paul. Paul.” The shaggy silhouettes of the local high school band, Rock Toxique, emerge on stage. Guitars are plugged in. Thud. Thud. Everyone knows the sound. The drummer bangs out a few notes, and the crowd — 500 or more — inches forward, necks craning. Canned music is

one thing, but live rock ’n’ roll reaches into the soul. The big man’s arrival is imminent. Slowly the lights rise, and there he is: from the bottom up, freshly polished loafers, pressed pants, button-down shirt, hair the same as it ever was. Ladies and gentlemen, your sexagenarian rock star, Paul Martin. The crowd, myopic as any group in such circumstances must be, roars. Martin, smiling like no rocker ever smiles, strums his guitar. Can it be? Yes, it can. He is playing air guitar, looking for all the world like a cross between a former finance minister, a wax figure from Madame Tussauds, and a dad laying it on thick for his son’s girlfriend. The band hammers out “Takin’ Care of Business.” Thud. Everyone knows that sound too, but no one admits it. Consent, dissent, shopping for things

no one needs — a certain style of shoe, a certain dress, perfume, musk — all of this can be created out of thin air. Charisma is another matter. It can come in many forms, but you’ve either got it or you don’t. On this night any thought that charisma cannot be manufactured was jettisoned for a higher emotional purpose, but long afterwards one could still hear the faint echoes of that last thud. A campaign rally, a potential watershed moment, registered to all but the true believers more as “we’re up shit creek.” Martin as finance minister had gravitas: by balancing the nation’s books, he did indeed “take care of business,” and he gained some mystique for doing so. But it could not, and did not, translate onto the bigger stage. Stéphane Dion is facing a similar dilemma, and right now if Liberal insiders

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knew more about the science of charisma — okay, the social science of charisma — it wouldn’t be Michael Ignatieff or Frank McKenna or even Bob Rae they’d be pining for. It would be Bill Clinton. If Avuncular Bill were leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, on campaign stops he’d be blowing hot jazz out of a cool saxophone, and Stephen Harper, Jack Layton, Gilles Duceppe, and Elizabeth May would be quaking in their slickless boots. It wouldn’t matter much what Clinton said — he is a master at saying everything and nothing — women would still want to sleep with him and men would “feel his pain.”

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rvine Schiffer, author of the underappreciated 1973 book Charisma: A Psychoanalytic Look at Mass Society, identified eight charismatic attributes, a combination of which successful leaders possess, or come close to possessing. They are: sexual mystique, playfulness (or hoax), a call from above, a fighting stance, a desirable social station, an innovative lifestyle, a touch of foreignness, and, unpredictably, a clear deficiency, often a physical imperfection. Like most lists, it is as interesting

for what it excludes. Intellectual probity is absent, as is a linebacker’s build or an Alexander Haig “I’m in control here” disposition. Instead, charisma comes from within, an intuitive, spontaneous projection that connects with regular men and women. Events like Martin’s “concert” or Stockwell Day arriving on a Jet Ski wearing a wetsuit to speak with reporters, were orchestrated playfulness, goofy failures in stage management. They were also desperate, the opposite of playful. And, as Pierre Trudeau, the charismatic gold standard in Canadian politics, said: never trust anyone who wants to lead too desperately. Trudeau might have loved being the top gun, but he hid it masterfully. While most consider sex and politics to be like oil and water, they are actually more like chocolate cake and ice cream — made for each other. Whether Clinton’s “sins” in the Oval Office or Trudeau marrying outside his station (and age bracket) or his private peccadilloes, a leader that displays a certain sexual adventurism and recklessness goes a long way toward registering charismatically. Sex is a two-way street (or, if

“Romantic Rights” – Death From Above 1979 (2004)

you are lucky, a multi-lane highway), and there are few needs more profound than the need to be desired. Clinton’s amateurish flings might not match up with Barbra Streisand’s public display of affection for Trudeau, but both men exuded sexual mojo, and Canadian women murmured “Lucky Margaret” as the prime ministerial couple were popping out young ones and “Lucky others” after they split up. Merging sexual mystique and playfulness, when a reporter asked Trudeau if he was going to give up his Mercedes, the prime minister replied, “Do you mean the girl or the car?” “The car,” the reporter said. To which Trudeau quipped, “I won’t give up either.” Stephen Harper reading bedtime stories to comedian Rick Mercer was a clever political stroke. The moment depicted a leader who could be a prankster comfortable in his own skin. But neither Harper nor Dion would ever allude to any form of sexual indiscretion. Physically, they carry themselves as the Queen and Prince Philip of sexual politics, and emotionally they project an image of well-adjusted maturity, too adroit to engage in sexual frivolity that would endanger the ship of state. These are stolid, solid men but, one suspects, not much fun in the sack. Jack Layton, who is known to wear leather on occasion, has a bit of the menace about him, but one senses that the national arena has made him less playful, less adventuresome. With a party platform that is essentially onenote, Gilles Duceppe has the greatest opportunity for exhibiting a little sexual recklessness, but, like Harper, his hair is always perfectly coiffed. Greens might have more fun, but Elizabeth May doesn’t really register on the sex meter. If not sex, then what of play or hoax? Trudeau, again, set the bar high with stunts such as his famous pirouette, his slide down the banister at the Château Laurier, or his backflips into swimming pools. He could pull off gratuitous play with insouciant arrogance, and he did it on his own terms, spontaneously, but with, no doubt, studied panache (an exception to many rules, he was). But under “the charisma of hoax,” Schiffer writes, “Every great politician is to some

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illustration: karin von ompteda

j uly /au g u s t 2 0 0 7

When Mulroney appeared too cocksure in Gucci loafers and began to strut, he forgot that people appreciate humility, not vanity. Canadians skewered him.
degree an actor . . . our political figures on the national and global stages are thespians of the first order.” Or at least they should be. Unlike Trudeau, today’s leaders stand outside of hoax or gleeful mucking about. They prefer the safer practice of play by association, of surrounding themselves with people or things that exude a desirable image: Harper with Mercer or in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ locker room; Martin with U2’s Bono, again and again; Layton carrying the Barenaked Ladies’ bags. Ours might be a cautious age, but what a bore! What risk aversion. No hoax, no glory. With prepared spontaneity, the payback is minimal. And so, there you have it: federal politics as a sexless, less-than-playful spectator sport. Is it any wonder that the commons are tuning out? The search for charisma must troll in different fields. essence Martin’s asymmetric federal- bined with environmental taxes (as disism on steroids — says, “I am not scary, incentives for carrying on with business not a libertarian, not in favour of a flat as usual), would represent a Great Society tax, not a social conservative, not even program. This is Dion’s call from above, a fiscal conservative.” Defined nega- and he cannot be shy about it. He must tively and designed to assuage, it is not say: “I don’t care if I get arrested for a fighting stance at all. chaining myself to a tree or for creating For his part, Dion appears to be for a roadblock at the gateway to Alberta’s everything. He went along with the tar sands. I don’t care what you think, soothing balm of the Quebecois as a there is a clear and present danger and nation, and then, begging at the high I’m going to save the environment from altar of environmentalism, eschewed the bad guys.” partisan politics and embraced the Harper’s fighting stance is offshore — Green Party, cooking up a deal not to against the Chinese (sort of ) and against run a Liberal candidate against Elizabeth the Taliban in Afghanistan. But if more May in Nova Scotia. Well, a fighting body bags come home from that torstance means fighting, even rid battlefield, expect Defence Minister Gordon O’Connor to when the field is crowded. Morebe sacrificed (see former Enviover, the narcissism of minor difference usually means hatronment Minister Rona Ambrose), and for there to be a ing most profoundly he or she who is closest to you. For many, sudden change of heart and dirthe Dion-May pact — she won’t ection. For the time being, Harpfield a Green candidate against er will “support our troops,” but Dion in Montreal — is political games- if he has a call from above it is nowhere manship. And the sound and fury of in evidence. Vis-à-vis Afghanistan, Dion charisma can only emerge when polar- needs a pre-emptive strike, and it could ities are sought, accepted, and a fire come with the clear statement: “Actuis lit. ally, fighting terrorism in Kandahar Jack Layton took the high road and and Helmand provinces is not in our expressed disappointment at the Liberal- national interest, a diplomatic offenGreen arrangement not to duke it out sive is.” in the party leaders’ playgrounds, but Fighting stance and call from above? one sensed in his protest simple exas- We shall see. peration at being left out in the cold. Meanwhile, Duceppe appears denuded, essening the chance that either will emerge is the fact that our political stripped of any genuine federal foil and forced to accept Quebec’s sovereignty- leaders come neither from humble beassociation by increment, for which he ginnings nor high social station. They will get little or no credit. are middle class, profoundly so, and middle-of-the-road sensibilities tend nd the commons, the public square? to stay rooted there. Rags to riches storThere, the citizens are backing away, ies resonate, and Bill Clinton, Jean tired of faux battles. The people are Chrétien, and Brian Mulroney used not interested in a horse race any more their working-class narratives to build than they are attracted to horse trad- dreams in the body politic. Just as overing; they are interested in a genuine coming obstacles can make leaders fighting stance. On two fronts — the en- populist, so can descending from high vironment and Afghanistan, at home station into the muck of public serand far away — Dion has a chance to vice. Giving up lofty cocktail parties carve out some territory of his own. A for the grind of stump speeches on green agenda rooted in using the lever- the Prairies, the tedium of constituaging power of the federal surplus to ency barbecues, the rank odour of support a post-fossil fuel economy, com- bingo halls, is a sacrifice — the soul of

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fighting stance, Schiffer’s big number four. That has to be it; there is, after all, a lot of shouting going on. But what are our leaders fighting for? The territory of Quebec may not be a nation, but the people are. When the resolution was being debated, no one stood up in Parliament, looked Gilles Duceppe in the eye, and said, “You sir, are a separatist. I don’t know how you got here, but this House is in charge of the nation as a whole. So get outta town!” Indeed, a fighting stance in Canadian politics is increasingly defined negatively. By trashing the Liberals on the “sponsorship scandal,” Harper rode the Trojan Horse of accountability into elected office. His campaign slogan, “Stand Up For Canada,” usually means (in the context of Canadian history) a battle royale against the provinces, a fight to put them in their place and to reassert Ottawa’s leadership role. The Liberals had diminished the state, we were led to believe, and it was time to set things right. Instead, time has shown that Harper is an accommodationist, “restoring the fiscal balance” through transfers to the provinces. The spring budget — in

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illustration: ben weeks

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public service. When Mulroney appeared too cocksure in Gucci loafers and began to strut, he forgot that people appreciate humility, not vanity. Canadians skewered him (Kim Campbell bearing the brunt of it). A strutter leaves us with nothing to do but watch and become annoyed. Related to rising above lowly status or descending from high privilege are traits suggestive of an innovative lifestyle, something different from the prosaic toil of shuttling the little ones to hockey, lacrosse, or ballet. Harper shaking hands with his son was a public relations nightmare, but he’s a quick study and today he can be as friendly with his direct issue as he is with Rick Mercer. Dion’s dog Kyoto is cute; now the Liberal leader needs a televised recording of himself accepting policy advice from the old mutt. ( The image of the relationship between Mackenzie King and his dog Pat was an endearing and enduring one.) One can imagine Elizabeth May promoting the composting toilet, and that’s fine, but in downtown Vancouver and Halifax people might also like to see her enjoying a fine bottle of claret. Layton’s got good, solid, athletic legs, and bicycle trips allow him to show them off much better than attempts to replicate iconic canoeing pictures. Duceppe is Duceppe, plus ça change. A touch of foreignness is thought to be a boon, but given the furor over Dion holding onto his French citizenship — so much for globalization and multiculturalism — one cannot be sure. Collectively, our leaders seem, well, less than foreign, unless you count Duceppe, which would be giving in to his separatist cant. ne thing is certain: a clear deficiency, even a physical imperfection, is of paramount importance for charismatic leaders, as it is for celebrities. The problem with David Beckham is that he’s a perfect specimen, skilled and beautiful. On the charisma radar, he registers zero, great to look at but vapid. The former pope had charisma, and became more endearing, if odder, with age. The Queen (or at least Helen Mirren) has it in her way, and Chrétien had it without question. In the political arena, it is not just

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that people want to be led. They crave a role, a way in, and an imperfection allows them to complete their political representatives. Everyone rallied around the hurt Chrétien when the Conser vative Party released ads during the 1993 election campaign that attempted to caricature him by poking fun at his facial paralysis. ( That little support fell to Dion after the Conservatives’ “This is unfair” attack ad aired this past winter is due to the clever strategy of using Michael Ignatieff as the antagonist.) Lucien Bouchard garnered enormous sympathy when his leg was amputated. Trudeau’s marital difficulties reached into homes across the nation. And Clinton’s clumsy adulterous liaisons made him profoundly human, lost and in need of help. One of the great difficulties with our current crop of leaders is that they do not appear deficient in any particular way. They are not battle-scarred heroes rising above a certain disadvantage or beating a stigma to the ground. Dion struggles with English, but there is no one with Churchill’s lisp or Moshe Dayan’s eye patch — clear markers of disadvantage. Our leaders strike us as healthy, well-adjusted, and of average height, safe, and strangely immunized to the horrors and accidents that afflict the rest of us. They appear, in short, professional (and without particular flaw) in an arena that ought not be governed by professionals. The big question for Canadians is, do we want charismatic leaders? Maybe we don’t. Maybe we think that charisma, like intellectualism, is suspicious. Maybe we want our political representatives to be predictable — good stewards of the economy and not much else. Maybe the Ralph Klein/Pierre Trudeau/ Sir John A. Macdonald model is just too wacky. But if it’s stewardship over leadership that is desired, how are Canadians going to solve the riddles of planetary heat and aboriginal exclusion, our northern vision gap, staying mum about American exceptionalism? These are not normal times, the challenges are exceptional, and solutions must come with a punch, must elevate the masses, must shake us from the torpor of average life. Come on brothers and sisters. Bring it on!

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fiction

The Counterpart

by Nadia Kalman illustration by Petra Mrzyk & Jean-François Moriceau

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leksey Alexandrovich Smoletkin — the former Gorky Professor of Arts and Letters at Leningrad State, the father of a twelve-year-old daughter in ribbons and brown uniform in Moscow, the destroyer of a beautiful old grand piano, the owner of a first edition of Pushkin’s The Stone Guest, the renter of a garage apartment in the Massachusetts house of Todd Elkin, the recipient of a Writer’s Union silver medal, the beneficiary of hickeys the purplishchestnut colour of Tatiana Elkin’s hair, and the reluctant overseer of a bulbous nose whose presence had made him first the laughingstock of his old petty-noble family and later the butt of anti-Semitic remarks to which it had been useless to protest his Christianity. That nose! One winter morning in 1991 Aleksey Alexandrovich Smoletkin woke to discover that this last and least valuable of all his possessions, like so many of the others, was gone.

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j uly /au g u s t 2 0 0 7

He needed no mirror, no hand feeling the flatness, the simian holes through which he now breathed, for confirmation. He knew in the way he’d known his wife would leave him for the idiot Cossack Malkov, with his yearly trips to Lenin’s tomb “to feel the history in my gizzard,” before his wife had even met that blathering Slavophile. He knew in the way he’d known he wouldn’t get tenure at Thomas Paine University, though he hadn’t guessed at the reason — according to the dean, his criticisms of students’ work was hurting their self-esteem. He knew but he didn’t want to know, so he looked for a mirror, prepared to shake off this strange idea as he had shaken off so many others.
Petra Mzyrk, a German-born artist, and Jean-François Moriceau, of France, have shown their collaborative work, much of it based on James Bond themes, around the world. Illustration provided by Air de Paris, Paris

No force had been involved in the taking of his nose. The flesh where it had been was childishly smooth, small-pored, and pale. He stroked it with a hairy finger and found it no more or less sensitive than the skin on his cheek. His brain, that tired telephone operator, had unplugged from emotion and intellect both, willing only to connect him to his senses. As when he made love (in English), or occupied himself with sex (in Russian), he breathed heavily through his great stomach. Abruptly, he hit the mirror with the flat of his hand and the telephone operator came to life. What had he done last night? What had they — he and Tatiana — done? Standing in his loose briefs, scratching at the hair around his bellybutton, Aleksey could remember no injury, no pain, and of course it would not have healed so quickly. Two empty bottles of Polish vodka stood on a wobbly pile of dishes and

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paper towels, idiot twin brothers, still around the morning had been first his American colleague and counterpart, then after, panting to tell stories about how much he’d had. Chekh- his sponsor at Paine, and was now simply his landlord, was ov and all those country doctors had used vodka to dull the pulling out of the driveway in his vintage Corvette. Todd was a man not easily satisfied. It wasn’t enough for pain of operations. There was a method by which he could discover what him to be a professor of nineteenth-century American literhappened. A list must be written, or perhaps a chart on ature. Todd was also a painter! A skier! A sailor! The lover of his computer. Best not to get over-ambitious; best to open an athletic little lady from the registrar’s office! one of the fourteen legal pads with which he’d absconded And six years ago, Todd had been the only member of that from Paine. American delegatory cabal who had done more than stare, 1. Translations. Before Tatiana came over, Aleksey had as if through a glass, brightly, at the sorry smoking Russians been doing another translation for the Russian publishing from Leningrad State University. This was the man who, in a house Uyutniy Dom, or Cozy House, not that either he or moment when the escorts weren’t watching, had pulled out a Tatiana had any qualms about interrupting his work. Here dictionary and fiercely pointed to the words, ya pomogu tebe, in the United States, Aleksey himself was translating Gone I’ll help you. Todd had gotten him out, had rented him the with the Tesseract, which featured the adventures of a time- garage, had gotten him his first, and Aleksey was beginning travelling Southern heroine with “a husband in one century to fear his last, professorial job in the US. and a lover in another,” a convenient arrangement. The husSoon, too soon, after their customary fifteen minutes, band was a civil-rights lawyer; the lover, a ConTatiana would come a-knocking on his door and federate soldier; Aleksey, the unfortunate conduit he would have to say, “Who’s there? ” but knowthrough which “Oh, my sweet baby” became, in its ing all the time that here she was, the woman who nearest Russian approximation, “My darling crumb expected a real man, a full man, hairy and beard(moya dorogaya kroshka).” ed and bellied, and who would find instead a nozentity, a nostrato. 2. Tatiana — over — 8 prompto. Todd Elkin had What to do? He rushed on wobbly legs around an evening seminar: Edgar Allan Poe and the Absurdity of Fear. Tatiana came to his room wearing the apartment, furiously straightening it up, sweepa red skirt and wooden beaded necklace that left ing vodka and glasses and shirt into his kitchen cabbruises on his chest when they embraced. She had inets. When had his nose gone? When? When? A knock on the door. “It’s not a good time . . .” brought over some new drawings she’d done of herself nude, “Guess who!” slightly shapelier than she was in actual life, her legs splayed “I’m very sick, I might infect you . . .” hither and thither. “This is the last time you’ll have to do this,” Tatiana had “What? ” She opened the door and came in. Aleksey spun said, throwing the pages of Gone with the Tesseract on the around so that his back was facing her. “What’s the matter floor. “After tomorrow, you’ll be a powerful biznessman.” with you? ” she said. He grabbed a page from his desk and By this, she meant he’d be a real estate agent like herself. That covered his face in it. “I don’t know, maybe you do,” he said. It was the page, he way, they could see each other during the day, with less of the sneaky-sneaky. And they’d have money, and would go to couldn’t help noticing, on which the Confederate soldier exconferences together, and swim naked in the hotel pools. Sex plains his reasons for going into battle. “I like to keep what’s in the water, Tatiana had said, was like sex on cocaine. Alek- mine,” the soldier says. Aleksey said, “Did you perhaps take sey had never tried either one — what a linty, boiled-chicken something from the apartment? ” “Take something? Are you drunk? ” life he’d had until now, never even invited to a single one of “Part of my face. I’m just asking, did you perhaps cut off the famous geology department orgies back in Leningrad! 3. Tatiana = barber. In preparation for his real estate inter- part of my face and take it with you? Perhaps by accident? ” Aleksey turned slowly around, the page still over the botview, Tatiana had shaved Aleksey’s beard and cut some of the shagginess out of his head, leaving a bowl-like arrange- tom half of his face. “What’s happened to you? Are you playing bandit now? ” ment of waves that reminded him of a children’s puppet, meant to represent Anna Karenina’s husband, that he’d Tatiana was impatient. She’d been quick to immigrate from watched with his daughter and wife in Leningrad. Byelorussia, quick to change from engineer to real estate 4. Salad and napoleon; vodka commences. Tatiana was try- agent, quick to marry Professor Todd, and would be quick ing to lose weight. to drop the noseless mutant he’d become. 5. Making love. Satisfactory for Tatiana; less so for Aleksey, “Just a little accident, baby,” he said in Russian. “Nothwho was worried about his interview. ing terrible.” 6. Sleep. “Show me!” She pulled the paper out of his hands and Had Tatiana cut off his nose? threw it on the floor. She stared at his face and crossed herBut to what end? To what end? self — nipple, nipple, belly button. She hadn’t taken it, he knew that instantly. How could he have been so crazy as to e pulled back the window curtain, almost expecting the suspect her? “See, but it’s fine, I’m not bleeding . . .” sky to be red, the street to be dust — a nuclear holocaust “But how did it happen? ” took his nose! But everything was as usual. Todd Elkin, who

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illustration: william davison

The Counterpart

“Well,” Aleksey said, nodding, “something will resolve itself.” “But the interview!” Aleksey was finding some bravery, bravery he’d last had in St. Petersburg when, drunk, he’d challenged his wife’s Slavophile to a duel, “if you like the old ways so much!” Now, he said, “It’ll be fine, I’m not interviewing for the job of a fashion model,” and pranced for a few steps. “Now you’re a homosexual, too, as well as a Gogol character? ” “No.” He sighed. “If only we’d thought to let you keep that moustache,” she said darkly. “It could have hidden everything. All right, let’s just think about this together for a minute.” “But that’s not even what’s important!” he cried, trying for some romantic-lead insouciance. “I mean, do you still love me, for example? ” She put a hand on his cheek. “Of course it doesn’t matter to me. What we have is deeper than that, isn’t it? It’s spiritual, isn’t it? Even though you don’t believe in God, it still is.” She sighed and sat abruptly on a kitchen stool, propping her head in her hands with their hot-pink nails. “All right. Well.” “Yes? ” he said. “First of all, your interview isn’t until five. That gives us a lot of time, doesn’t it? And also —” “Also? ” “Also, maybe — maybe your nose is there, but it just got crushed,” she said. “You do like to sleep on your stomach, you know it’s very unhealthy, I keep telling you, and still you flop down onto it like a walrus. Maybe if we just — ” She reached up and tried to take hold of the flat skin in the centre of his face. “Oy,” he said, trying to twist away. “That’s good, create some pressure for it. Now — we’ll just hold it for a minute — okay, let’s see what we’ve got here.” She released him. “Yes, it does look better.” She took a compact from her bag and held the mirror up to him. In the mirror, he saw his face, the red imprints of Tatiana’s nails making a circle like a bull’s eye in the middle. “I don’t see a change,” he said, turning away. “But maybe, Tatianachka, you’re right, I shouldn’t go to the interview? ” “No, you can’t let something like this keep you from a meeting with your future. Don’t be such a fatalist.” She began speaking in English, something she always did when it was time to be business-like. “I must meet a client in North Hills. So you go, pick up resumé — and call me.” “Okay, that is cheering. I now have wonderful privilege to walk outside, alone, and have the little children crying and the big children throwing the rocks at me,” he said. “I’ll drive you there. You only have to walk back, okay, my big theatre queen? ”

be anyone there anyway.” When she dropped him off at the copy shop, he tried to kiss her, and she tried to kiss him, but somehow it didn’t work out. He ended up licking her chin, then, giving a brave smile, got out of the car and walked rapidly, head down, into the store. As if to taunt him, the clerk had a huge Stalinist moustache of sufficient length to hide anything that might need hiding. His large, bald head moved in rhythm to a song about people who liked to rock all night. “I’m picking up, please, under Smoletkin? ” Aleksey said. The clerk gave him his copies, told him the price, and took his money, all without ceasing the motion of his neck or looking at Aleksey. Back in St. Petersburg, the same kind of young man would have yelled out in surprise, apologized, told him about his friend who lost a leg in a construction accident, pulled a bottle from under the counter, and a flotilla of interesting questions and confessions would have wafted in on the waves of vodka. Eventually Aleksey would know about the clerk’s sinus problems — his slobbering slut of an ex-wife, and his desire to someday become a medical type of person or otherwise help those in Aleksey’s situation, perhaps by taking them to houses of prostitution. The thought of this entire wretched scene made Aleksey ask himself, did his nostalgia now extend to nosy drunks? Nostalgia, that sodden field — had he fallen that far? He walked home, noting the cleanliness of the sidewalk and the disrepair of his shoes. People seemed to be giving him a wide berth, he gathered, based on the glimpses he caught of their feet. Aleksey had an excellent sense of direction, but eventually he had to raise his eyes to make sure he was going the right way. And it was then, as he confirmed that Whiting Lane was exactly where he’d expected it to be, that he collided with a man in a dark coat and yarmulke, with Aleksey’s very nose right in the centre of his surprised face.

I

t was early winter and there were many possibilities — opportunities! — for concealment. They tried an old ski mask of Todd’s, a handkerchief, a tissue, a bandage, a scarf, a jumbo Band-Aid, and, last but not least, embarrassingly, contouring makeup. “Listen,” Tatiana said at the end, “there probably will not

“Sweet Jane” – The Velvet Underground (1970)

illustration: maxwell loren holyoke - hirsch

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“Please forgive me,” Aleksey said, transfixed. “Excuse me,” the man said, and walked off in the direction of the park. Aleksey pivoted like a music-box doll and followed the man, ever ready to conceal himself behind a telephone pole or a parked car, but in fact the man never turned around. He strode through the park and to — why hadn’t Aleksey guessed it? — the town synagogue. Had his nose now found its rightful home on a rabbi? Aleksey stood on a pile of snow in the empty park square, watching the black coat mount the steps, open the door, and disappear into the warm yellow light of the synagogue’s interior. Aleksey stood there, his feet burning with cold in the dirty snow, watching his own breath dissipate, trying not to remember that it was coming from two holes the size of pencil erasers embedded in his face. ack at the Elkin house, Tatiana met him at the door with a look of cracked merriment on her face. “Todd’s here for lunch,” she sang out, “guess what he has? ” She dragged him into the kitchen, where Todd sat smiling up from a hamand-cheese sandwich. “Hey, buddy,” Todd said. “Sorry about your accident.” “But show him,” Tatiana said, still tugging on Aleksey’s arm. Todd took out what looked like a collection of tissues. “The strangest thing,” he said, “I found it on top of my computer, right next to my trekking compass.” Here, he began to lift something pink out of the tissues. Like Venus rising from foam, Aleksey’s nose emerged, naked and proud, profuse and purpleveined. “Maybe it’s a prosthetic or something? Anyway, when Tatiana told me about you, I said, ‘You never know. I’ve always been a very lucky guy.’ Maybe this is just the thing to help you.” “Thank you,” Aleksey said, reaching for it and cradling it in the palm of his hand. It was cold and when he stroked it with one finger, felt waxier than he’d remembered. “And then I said,” Tatiana put in, “ ‘Remember that plastic surgeon who did — do — my eyes in one hour only and I look so different and good when she is finished? ’ ” “So we called and made an appointment. You and Tatiana are off to see her right now. Don’t even take your coat off.” “Come, come,” Tatiana said, pulling Aleksey out the back door while blowing Todd a kiss. A capricious yet oddly self-righteous driver at the best of times, Tatiana now steered the car with an Ophelia-like rapture, careening down streets and speeding through red lights, saying, “Isn’t it wonderful how we can get things back? ” So, Aleksey thought, she has been lying to me about loving me the same whether I had a nose or not. Obviously, this woman is as shallow as I thought she was when we first met. But this thought did not make him feel any less unhappy, because he read in the blurred building awnings, and heard in the horns and shouts aimed at their car, the clear message that his nose was dead and so was Tatiana’s love for him. Tatiana bumped into a parking spot and they took the elevator upstairs to the plastic surgeon’s office. The plastic surgeon, a dark, tiny young woman, her face shining

B

smoothly like a boxing glove, touched his face with whitenailed fingers. “I’ve seen better,” she said in her rough voice. “Then again, I’ve seen worse. Much worse, let me tell you.” She and Tatiana shared a conspiratorial smile. “Let me take a look at the nose again.” Holding the dead creature to Aleksey’s face, she said, “It’s proportional to his head, I’ll give you that.” “So when will be the operation? ” Tatiana asked. “Here’s the thing: no qualified plastic surgeon would be willing to do an operation like this. Right now, everything is functional and you can breathe normally. If I try to mess around with that nose, we don’t really know what could happen.” “But, we must try,” Tatiana said. “No, no. ‘First, do no harm.’ Surgery might rupture his paranasal sinuses, not to mention his tear ducts, his nasopharynx. You don’t want to be responsible for that, do you? I can’t do it, and any other surgeon would tell you the same thing.” She was using the nose to gesture as she made her point; then, finished, she handed it to Tatiana, who dropped it into her purse without any attempt to wrap it.

D

riving home, Tatiana was silent. She turned the radio to a dance station that played a song about two hearts. There was a word between “two” and “hearts” that Aleksey could not make out. To take his mind off his nose, bumping against keys and jagged coins in Tatiana’s purse, Aleksey tried to sing along: “Two, uh, hearts, two hearts that beat as one . . .” Tatiana gave him a look and he stopped. He remembered singing his daughter to sleep in Leningrad. His deep bass was not ideally suited to lullabies, but Natalia loved hearing him, especially when he sang a song he’d learned from a movie about a mixed-race baby, who miraculously escaped from lynch-happy America and was brought to the ussr to be raised by a circus: “The bears and elephants are sleeping, The men and women are sleeping, At night, everyone should sleep, But not if they are at work!” His wife would come in while he was singing and caress the five hairs on Natalia’s head (she’d heard that scalp massages make babies’ hair grow in faster). Aleksey’s voice would swell, filling both rooms up to the chandeliers, because look at what he had! A wife, a child, a piano, two rooms, and that was just the start. Soon there’d be more children, more rooms, a piano in each room! A piano in the communal bathroom for the neighbours to share! Back at the house, Tatiana pulled herself together a bit to help Aleksey with the suit she’d bought him. “It’s a suit like Richard Gere was wearing in Pretty Woman. You even look like him a little bit.” “Oh, really? ” he said, making a foolhardy attempt to flirt as he put on the pinstriped jacket. “His face is also a little bit flat, but who notices that? ” “Are you my pretty woman? ” Aleksey touched her breast with a sleeve-covered hand. “Sure, okay.” She turned away and went to Todd’s closet for a tie.

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“O

kay,” Tatiana said, pulling up to the Century First of- to face with the shiny bump on its end, from which several fice. “Neither one of us expected it to be this hard. hairs were growing. At least, he thought, the nose would not But” — brightening — “maybe this is a handicapped disabil- notice his deformity, for it — he? — did not seem to have any ity situation, and they have to hire you because you are de- eyes. “So,” Aleksey said, “we know each other, perhaps? ” formed? What do you think? Maybe I should bring it up, “I don’t think so,” the nose said. “Were you at Who’s Who even, to Mr. Gess? ” LM: Aruba? ” “No, but I have once travelled to Cuba,” Aleksey said. “Tatianachka, if you love me even a bit, you will not do that,” Aleksey said. The whole drive over, he’d been looking “Yeah, I didn’t think so. Hardly any of the new guys go, at himself in the passenger-side mirror, trying to find some can’t afford it, most of the time. You know what LM stands angle of his head to lessen the effect of that which was gone. for? ” Now, he swatted the mirror away and scratched his right leg Large Medals? Large Metals? Forget the large — that’s in its unfamiliar navy-and-pink pinstripe. Sovetskiy thinking. Here they know there’s more to life than They walked in together. Mr. Gess was waiting for them large. Likes Meetings? Meeting people is important in this behind the glass door, half hidden by some advertisements field. “No, I am not familiar.” “Luxury Markets. The only kind I sell to.” for condominiums, wearing a pin-striped suit much like Aleksey’s. The similarity did not end there. Mr. Gess was, in “Yes, very good,” Aleksey said, trying to sound like he fact, Aleksey’s very own nose, writ very large. Aleksey stead- wore silk underwear and took saunas at his dacha. “Some great scuba diving there. You scuba dive? ” ied himself against the door frame as Tatiana sauntered in “No, unfortunately.” In his nervousness, Aleksey was forand kissed the nose, just to the left of a slight discoloration getting the noseness of the nose. In its fine suit — of a better from an old sunburn on its bridge. “And this is my famous friend Aleksey, very good with fabric than his own, and with a more delicate pinstripe, and the conversation, especially with people from the univer- beautiful shoes, now crossed at an angle from his desk, the sity,” she said. “He will be big asset.” Aleksey turned to her, nose looked like a better kind of human being, a human behorrified by her normalcy, but she was already going, jaunt- ing with fewer distracting features, a human being more solid ily waving at the two of them. and more ready to fight, no soft spots on him. There is no “So,” his nose said, “Let’s go to my office and we’ll see Achilles heel on a nose, Aleksey thought dizzily. what we can do.” “Yeah, I was wondering,” the nose said. “I noticed, in your “I have myself some ideas. For what we can do,” Alek- resumé, you don’t have any hobbies. Where’s your hobbies sey said with morose significance, then instantly regretted section? ” “My what? ” it. Already he was making a bad impression! He promised himself to smile every time he said anything — besides eradi“See here . . .” The nose pushed a paper at him, “On this recating the bad impression, it would give his voice extra rich- sumé, the hobbies are golf and, and — what’s the rest? ” ness, according to Tatiana. Aleksey read, “body building, and of course Monopoly.” The nose sat behind a desk and gestured Aleksey into a “You see how adding a section like that, something a little slightly lower chair than its own, so that Aleksey was face fun, you can show the world you’re not just a professor from a very messed up place — you know, I read the news. You put in a hobbies section, I say, ‘Hey, this guy isn’t so boring, I can work with this guy, maybe teach him some street smarts.” Here the nose made some karate chopping movements with the attenuated, doll-like arms that protruded from either side of its bridge. It must, Aleksey realized, have gotten its suit specially tailored. “So hit me with some hobbies.” “I like reading and also I like many winter sports, for example, skiing and also I like the Monopoly . . . ” At least, he had seen a Monopoly game in Tatiana and Todd’s garage. “Look, Al, I’ll give you the real deal here. Half of all agents are gone in two years. Why? ” “Why? ” “ ’Cause they don’t know thing one about commitment. This business owns you for the first two years. Owns. You. And if you can’t handle that, if you want to be all” — here the nose affected a high, sexually indeterminate voice — “ ‘Oh, what about my books’ or ‘What about my family?,’ well then, Al, you might as well just walk out that door.” “All right,” Aleksey said. “I understand.” The nose leaned back in its chair. “You got any questions “I’ll Be There For You/You’re All I Need to Get By” for me? ” – Method Man and Mary J. Blige (1995) Aleksey, of course, did have questions: how much money

illustration: chris lee

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could he expect to make? How many hours would he have to work? Would the nose ever come back and sit on his face, or was it finding the real estate business too lucrative? But Tatiana had told him not to ask the first two questions — they made it sound like he cared too much about those things, whereas you were supposed to care about this real estate agency because it was the best. Pay and hours be damned — you’d work there for free, gladly! That was how you got a job in America. As for the last question, well, you didn’t need a Tatiana yelling at you to know it was wrong. It implied that he thought he was in charge of the nose and reflected badly on his ability to respect his superiors. Subservience, subservience, subservience — that lesson Aleksey had learned for himself in Russia. He took his leave of the nose. But not without peeking back through the window at its tottering, almost hen-like progress between the empty desks.

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azed, Aleksey wandered back in the direction of the house, no longer caring whether anyone saw him. And in fact, it seemed that people did not see anything amiss. In Leningrad, not even one second would have elapsed before some babushka demanded to know what had happened to his face — was it hooligans? — and suggested a cucumber poultice. But here, people expected to see a nose on every face and that was what they saw. But this thought, though probably true, didn’t really make its way through the pillow that seemed to be lining Aleksey’s mind. It was a goose-down pillow, the same one he’d had from birth to emigration, with a few feather stems poking through the thin cloth. He was sitting on a suitcase, waiting for them to call his train. He was watching his daughter read a gigantic book, only her legs visible, until she peeked around the side of the cover and said, “How do you do? ” in a voice she considered at once extremely grown-up and hilarious. He was in the corridor waiting to take his last Moscow State entrance exam, an interview, sweating even down to his ankles, horrified upon realizing he’d forgotten all but one of the lines in Pushkin’s The Bronze Horseman, the one about walking hand in hand into the grave. What kind of place was this, really? You woke up one morning, just like any other day, except “yo” — as they said here — an essential organ was missing, and that very afternoon, that very organ was interviewing you for a job. He was unable to think more on this and went to bed as soon as he got to the Elkins’. In the middle of the night, he awoke from a dream in which his nose had formed a motorcycle gang and was chasing him down the highway. Wiping sweat from his forehead, Aleksey stood up, let the sheet fall from him, and shivered. He went to the window. The street lights made the snow blue, and it reminded him of snow in Leningrad, in the almost uninhabitable winters, when residents asked each other just how crazy Peter the Great had been, “to even have had the thought of building here!” The front door light came on and Todd stepped outside, carrying a duffle bag that was larger than he was. Tatiana’s

voice came from inside the house, “He is nothing, Toddzik! If you’d just come home more often . . .” Todd slammed his trunk closed. Aleksey realized that he wasn’t dressed, just wearing a ski jacket over some plaid pajamas and sneakers. “Remember, I didn’t have to tell you,” Tatiana called out. “Get inside,” Todd said, in a voice Aleksey had never heard him use before but had heard in some films he’d seen shortly after immigrating — the voice of Chuck Norris, enraged to have found himself tiny, betrayed, and pajama-clad on this freezing night. The door slammed. Todd looked up at the second floor, and, seeing Aleksey there, shouted, “Fucker! Loser! Jerkwad!” He paused briefly to gather some snow into snowballs, and then began throwing them at Aleksey’s window. With each toss, he called him by a different name. “Broomhead! Fuckwit! Deserter! Greenhorn!” After a few minutes, he began pausing to simply glare. Aleksey thought perhaps he was running out of names, but then another barrage came: “Carpetbagger! Homo! Pissant! Letch!” At “Letch,” a snowball broke through the glass and Aleksey jumped back, snow scattering everywhere. Encouraged, Todd and the names and the snowballs went on and on; it was as if Todd was marshalling all the memories of his American life — of playgrounds, of sports fields, of bars, of, indeed, his academic specialty, nineteenthcentury American literature. He threw the snowballs with a good strong pitcher’s arm. “Whelp! Squatter! Square! Retard!” Finally, he got in his car, accidentally turning on the interior light as well as the headlights, opened his window, shouted, “Chump!” and rolled away, silhouetted by the glow. Aleksey stumbled back a few more paces, breathing hard, and flipped the light switch. His reflection in what remained of the window looked surprisingly normal — if only everyone else could see that reflection instead of his real self ! After a few seconds, hope formed, and to extinguish it, Aleksey walked to the bathroom and stared hard into the mirror. And saw his prodigal nose, right where it was supposed to be, just as if nothing had happened. His vein was there, his hairs were there, and when it had all come back, he did not know. He did not know, nor did he want to know. He wanted to sit on his floor. He wanted to have a drink and think about the future that he suddenly saw before him, just past the tip of his newly restored nose. Tatiana would come up the stairs. He would sell houses and — why not? — make a million dollars. He and Tatiana would marry. They would have a baby, and the baby would know neither Barkov nor babka, would wonder neither What Must Be Done? (Chto Delat? ) nor Whose Fault? (Kto Vinovat? ). More power to the baby! All power to the baby! He heard Tatiana’s shoes on the stairs and their clip-clop sound told him that he would forget that the past day had ever happened. Aren’t immigrants like horses? Don’t we need our blinders to move? What’s a professorship, what’s a piano, what’s a daughter, compared to our desire to just get out? In fact, let’s not discuss these barely remembered losses any more. It doesn’t do any of us good.

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t h e wa l r u s

fiction

Bob D ylan G oes Tubing
by Marni Jackson illustration by Thomas Libetti

ne morning we came back from town to find a strange car parked under the white pines beside our cottage. An old Citroën, the kind where the chassis goes up and down hydraulically. Yellow. Nobody we knew drove a Citroën. Our son Ryan ran down the long switchback of wooden steps that lead to the lake. “There’s somebody out on the lake,” he yelled, “on the air mattress.” Paul shaded his eyes. A pale, small, but visibly adult figure, with a Tilley hat tied under his chin was paddling toward our dock. “I need the binocs,” Paul said, and went and retrieved them from the cottage. He studied the figure for a long moment. “This is really weird,” he said, “but whoever that is looks exactly like Bob Dylan.” He passed the binoculars to me. And it did look like him — a little guy with a pencil moustache, wearing Ryan’s flippers, on our air mattress. “See? Only older.” “Well, he is older.” The figure paddled closer. Paul waved and called out. “Hi. We’re back from town.” I waved too. It could, remotely, be some friend of a friend, dropping by on his way up to another cottage. Our place had no phone, no email, and cell connection was dodgy because of the granite cliffs. Sometimes people we scarcely knew just turned up. “Yeah, I’m back too,” the Dylan-person called. Then he started singing in a slightly hokey, Nashville Skyline voice, “Back here on Kashagawigamog.” That is, in fact, the name of a lake in North Ontario, but not ours. Ours is Sturgeon Lake. “What do we do now?” Paul asked. “I don’t know. Offer him a drink?” He cupped his hands. “Come on up and join us, if you’re heading in.”

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“Sure thing,” the floater said. I got a towel from the pump shed and went down to the dock. Bob Dylan — no question now, it was him — rolled off the mattress, careful to keep the brim of his hat dry. He slung the mattress up on the diving raft and did a credible breaststroke to the end of the dock, where he held on to the edge with thin white fingers. “No ladder?” He asked. The nails on the baby finger on each hand were extra long, and filed square. “Let me give you a hand.” I leaned over, careful to keep my scoop-neck shirt from gaping, and Dylan grabbed hold of me like a big ropey eightyear-old. He was pale as a grub, with a dot of chin hair and that riverboat-gambler moustache he started wearing around Love and Theft. But his blue eyes were still strong and clear, and met mine. He whisked the water off his arms with his hands. “Water’s real nice, once you get in.” Dylan was wearing a pair of old-fashioned wool swimming trunks with a narrow white belt. Wet, they revealed a springy crescent of cock underneath. His skin was so white it looked translucent, but he had good biceps — from playing guitar, probably. His forearms had energy, and drew your eye. He wrapped himself in my blue towel. “Want to see the boathouse?” asked Ryan. He led Dylan inside where he showed him our old green waterlogged Chestnut canoe slung up in the rafters and the aluminum boat we used for fishing. Ryan was nine and didn’t care or know who this skinny visitor was. “The canoe leaks,” Ryan said, “but we can go tubing. My friend Trevor has a Chris-Craft with a Merc 120.” “Sounds good,” Dylan said, using his hand to close one nostril as he blew out the other one to clear his sinuses. Then we all climbed the eighty-seven wooden trestle-ties up to the

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cottage, where Paul was waiting for us with the map spread lake were coming by to go tubing soon, and did Bob want to out on the kitchen table. go? We explained tubing to Dylan — being dragged around “Okay, now, Bob, you’re here,” Paul said, pointing to Stur- the lake behind a power boat, while clinging to a large ingeon Lake, a liver-shaped body of water northeast of Hunts- flated rubber donut with handles. Like tobogganing fast, ville, “and Kashagawigamog is quite a ways over there.” Kash over water. “Sure, I’ll give it a shot,” Dylan said. They headed down was closer to Bancroft. “Guess I kinda overshot it,” Dylan mumbled. “Nice ride up, though.” to the water, where Ryan got him a life preserver. Dylan I was staring into the fridge without being able to see any- tried to light a cigarette, hunching over his lighter, but it thing. “Can I offer you something, Bob? Orange juice? A nice was too breezy. The big Chris-Craft chugged up to the dock. Stoli with some lemonade? We have cold beer, of course. We watched the two of them climb in and roar off, as Dylan’s Canadian beer.” hat flipped straight up in the wind. He looked happy. “What do we do when he gets tired of tubing?” Paul said. “Sure, that all sounds good. ‘Give it to me in a cup,’ he sang, ‘and let the queen dance with the jack.’ ” He was study“Let’s worry about that later.” I hung the towels out on the ing the map, circling some of the names that tickled him. line, lay down on our bed, and fell asleep. I wasn’t used to “Arnprior,” he murmured with a faint lift of the moustache. drinking before lunch. “Madoc. Irondale.” After some dithering, I mixed him a Red Needle — tequila, usk was coming on. We had cocktails and listened to slice of lemon, and cranberry juice with lots of ice — and Lucinda Williams singing “Six Blocks Away.” I twirled opened a couple of Coronas for us. Dylan downed his drink the ice in my empty glass. Dylan stood at the big front winand fingered peanuts from a dish. “Madawaska,” he said, dow scowling at the horizon, which was bloody. His mood then underlined the name with a felt pen. Meanwhile Paul had changed. “Look at the sun,” he snarled, “goin’ down over the sea.” was standing in front of our CD collection, sweating over He spider-walked one hand down the windowpane. what to play for Bob Dylan. “The sky is erupting now / and I must take my leave.” He “Sally, where’s that klezmer collection . . .” “No,” I cried, leaping over to the CD player. “Play . . . play went into the guest bedroom. We heard him rummaging the remastered Etta James. Or that Robert Johnson one, did around in the dresser drawer and then he emerged, wearwe bring that?” ing a pair of Ryan’s flannel pajamas with a horse-and-buggy Dylan looked up from the map. “Got any old Valdy?” motif. He had a harmonica in one hand and a toothbrush in “Valdy.” Paul swivelled on his heels to me with panic- the other. It looked like mine. “Okay if I drink the water?” stricken eyes. “Now let me have a look.” “Go ahead, we just had it tested.” Valdy is a West Coast Canadian folksinger who had enjoyed a little plateau of fame in the 1970s. While Paul inverted his At the kitchen sink he put his harmonica in a glass of wathead to read the labels on the lowest shelf of CDs, Dylan er to soak, like a pair of dentures. For several minutes he wandered into the kitchen, looked in the fridge, and turned scoured his teeth over the kitchen sink, brushing and spiton the radio. The cbc news was just wrapping up. ting methodically. Then he flossed, making the floss pock in “Good old Jim Curran,” said Dylan, putting chunks of brie on a row of Ritz crackers. “Talkin’ traffic.” He turned the volume up. “Really?” Paul said. “You listen to cbc?” “Oh yeah. The boys on the bus listen to npr and cbc all the time. It’s good for moving through the land.” Dylan took his plate of crackers over to the couch and sat down. “I wrote a pretty good song about Gzowski a few years back.” “You’re kidding,” Paul said. “About this guy in a little green studio, smokin’ and talkin’ to people all over the country until one day the government burns down the radio station with him in it. Yeah, the band all likes the cbc. We get sick of watchin’ TV on the bus.” “Huh,” Paul said. He was staring at Glenn Gould, Goldberg Variations. Too manic for this time of day. “I was gonna record it, but the record people said this guy was too obscure. Hurricane Carter, people have heard of, they said, but they don’t know Peter Gzowski.” “Well, they would if you sang about it,” I pointed out. What about Hattie Carroll and William Zanzinger? “Prisoner of Love (Slip Away riddim)” “Old Petey boy,” Dylan mused, “in that little green room.” – Dave Barker and the Upsetters (1969) Ryan came in and said that Trevor and Angus down the

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illustration: radek drutis

Bob Dylan Goes Tubing

“Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle,” Dylan sang, zipping his candlestick around the board, an unlit cigarette hanging off his lip. We let him smoke inside, but he didn’t push it.
a rhythm. Then he rinsed. between the three bedrooms that didn’t go all the way up. “Think I’ll sleep down by the water tonight,” he said, be- With Dylan next door, Paul and I had to make love like hosfore he grabbed his pack of American Spirits and banged out tages, scarcely moving. I developed a taste for it that way. One the screen door, with a striped Hudson’s Bay blanket slung night, not long after his arrival, we had flipped our covers over one shoulder. He headed down the path, toes gripping down to get at each other more quietly when we heard Dylan his flip-flops. on the other side of the wall, talking in his sleep. “Someone’s got it in for me,” he said, clearly and loudly. I stood at the window. Wrapped in the blanket, Dylan “They’re planting stories in the press.” settled on our yellow plastic chaise at the end of the dock. I could see him through the birches, in “Just let me check on him,” I whispered to Paul. the early lavender darkness. He took out a cigaI slipped into his room and there he was, an aging rette, lit it, broke up several more and threw the poet in horse-and-buggy pajamas, his white feet crumbs of tobacco to the minnows that dimpled uncovered. Now he was mumbling. I put my hand the surface of the water. Further out on the lake, on his brow and he settled down. I tucked him in. a pair of loons, long, black and plump, left a plaHe looked so young asleep. cid W behind them. This was the time of evening The next morning he emerged with a rumpled when the fish fed, and unseen bugs made circles on the wat- face, unsmiling. I microwaved his oatmeal. er that looked as if a light rain was falling. “Bad night?” Then it was finally dark. I left the window and Paul lit a “Bad dreams. Joanie dreams. She won’t let go.” He spread fire in the woodstove. In his room, Ryan had fallen asleep a good half-inch of cold butter on his bun. I was buying two a day at this point. over a Spider-Man comic book. I turned off his light. “Did you hear the loons?” A little later, I went down to give Dylan a flashlight and “Yeah. Same first notes as “Wichita Lineman.” some bug repellent. He was fooling around with the harmonica. It was cloudy out, and the lake looked too rough for tubing. “If you hear rustling in the woods, it’s just raccoons. But Paul was playing Monopoly with Ryan, and crowing about they won’t bother you on the dock.” having eight hotels. Dylan sat down beside them. “Frogs are jumpin’, toads are croakin’ / seems like every“Want to play?” Ryan asked Dylan, giving him a silver thing is broken,” he half sang in his cigarette-frayed voice. candlestick from the Clue game as his marker. Dylan sat at “Goodnight, Bob. Sleep tight.” the board, eating his oatmeal and shaking the dice. I heard “Hey Sal, you too.” him thump his marker smartly as he moved around the board. We watched the moonless night sky for a moment. The I decided it was a good day to make a lamb stew that could stars were all out, coming at us in smithereens. Coldness slow cook in the oven. In no time, Dylan had snagged three radiated off of the lake. A shooting star fell down through railroads, as well as Park Place and Pennsylvania Avenue. “Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle,” Dylan sang, zipping his candlethe blackness, like a magnet slipping. stick around the board, an unlit cigarette hanging off his lip. nd so, without a word of explanation, Bob Dylan became We let him smoke inside, but he didn’t push it. “Hurry up and roll,” Ryan said morosely. Paul gazed out a guest at our cottage. A week passed, then another. Every morning he got up first — we would hear him plunge the window at the choppy grey lake. He disliked board games. off the dock, thrash out to the raft, and then swim back again. He was looking a little fed up. Sooner or later, I realized, we He got into the local Chelsea buns. “Like the hotel?” he asked were going to have to do something about Bob Dylan. when I gave him his first one. Most afternoons he went tub“I think we should put the chairs in the boathouse,” I said, ing with Ryan and the boys. looking pointedly at Paul. “The wind’s coming up.” “It’s not too different from being on the road with the “I’m sure he’ll leave soon,” I told him when we were down band, just more fun,” he explained. by the lake, out of earshot. “He just needs to rest.” Sometimes Paul and I would stand on the dock with the “But what if he doesn’t? What if he ends up living with us, binoculars, and watch him bump over the waves behind or coming back down to the city with us?” Trevor’s boat, thinking “Bob Dylan is tubing on our lake.” “Sooner or later somebody’s going to come looking for It was pretty unreal. But Canadian summers are so short that him. He’s world-famous, for God’s sake. He’s supposed to everything about them feels a bit like a dream. You expect to be on tour.” wake up any minute. Our friends would always swear up and “Plus,” Paul said, “the guy eats like a horse, in case you down they’d visit, but they never made it. I understood; the haven’t noticed. When you factor in gas for the outboard, city is jealous and won’t let people go. We were only renting and all those cartons of American Spirit I bring back from the cabin, and we didn’t socialize too much. So it was just the town, it starts to add up.” “He’s rich. Money probably never crosses his mind.” four of us that August — me, Ryan, Paul, and Dylan. “Well, it should. It crosses mine.” The cottage was small and old-fashioned, with partitions

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His beard didn’t scratch too much when we kissed. I froze, listening for Paul’s near-snore. “You are a jewel,” Dylan breathed into my ear. “A precious shining jewel.”
I was settled with a duvet on the sofa bed one night, as a “Give him a bit more time, honey. It’s good for Ryan, he’s teaching him chords on the guitar. We could have nipped it cool current of air from the lake flowed stealthily over me. in the bud on the first day, but at this point it’d be rude to I could feel the presence of the lake, like a sleeping dog. The kick him out.” call of the loons was preternaturally clear and loud, notes “And I don’t appreciate the way he goes around making fun breathed into a bamboo instrument. Sometimes the laughof Dwight Yoakam when he can see he’s in our CD wallet.” ter of a party would carry over from the other side of the “That’s just him.” lake, but that night it was perfectly quiet. I listened to the “Why are you defending him? You let him get away with sounds of breathing — Paul, even and deep. Ryan, turnmurder playing Scrabble — you didn’t even challenge zydeko. ing often and rustling his plastic. Nothing from Dylan’s Zydeko? You wouldn’t take that shit from me.” room. Then I heard someone get up and use the bathroom. “I’m not defending him, I just think he likes it here. It’s “Ryan?” “No.” “Oh, Bob, sorry.” Dylan, wrapped in the blangood for him. And I like it when he sings for us.” ket, came into the porch. His feet were long and “Right. When he can remember the words.” narrow and white. I could smell tobacco and the If you asked Bob directly, he wouldn’t sing. strange lanolin cream he used on his hands and But if you set up a good situation, he would sidle nails. Bag balm, he called it, something farmers over to Ryan’s cheap acoustic guitar and ease into used on cracked cow udders. a song. One chilly night — August was almost “Quarter moon, Sal,” he whispered. Through over — we made a bonfire outside. Dylan wrapped the trees, I could see the bone-coloured crescent. I thumped the edge of the sofa. “Sit here.” himself in the Bay blanket and sang “Farewell, AnShivering, Dylan tried to keep his blanket from slipping gelina,” followed by “Tangled Up in Blue.” He played with his head bowed, picking with one hand propped up on his off while he lit a cigarette. “Mind?” right baby finger. His voice was hard-edged and lovely, like “Be my guest.” an old sharpened knife. He made up a song for Ryan, called He sat down on the sofa. “The Man in the Loon.” It was about a boy who fell into the “Can’t sleep?” he asked. lake and was raised by a pair of loons, so he grew up think“It’s cooler on the porch.” ing he was a bird. “Yeah, the air is sweet.” “Slept in a rowboat / swam through the reeds,” he sang, “livin’ in the river / where the crawfish feeds.” The smell of his cigarette was rough and pleasant — someAfter that he did that Beach Boys song, “In My Room,” times tobacco smelled so good. I brought my knees up, unchanging the chorus to “In My Loon.” Ryan played along covering my feet. He took them in his cool hands and on his little synthesizer keyboard. “Play ‘Surfer Girl’ now,” absentmindedly stroked them, as if they were a cat that I pleaded. But Dylan put the guitar aside, threw his cigarette had found its way onto his lap. into the woods, and went off to bed like a tiny king, his quilt “I can only really sleep on the bus,” he said. “It never feels sweeping up the pine needles behind him. right if I’m not moving.” That night in bed, Paul turned to me. His hands felt so alive on my skin. A kind of swarming in“Were there any messages when you went to town? telligence came off them. He put out his cigarette in a saucer Doesn’t he have a manager or something?” on the windowsill. A loon breathed its shaky note. Dylan’s A mosquito hovered. I let it land on my arm, waited, then hands stroked further up my leg, like a masseur, following smacked it. “Nope. We’re it, I guess.” the line of the calf muscle. “Swimmer’s legs,” he said. “Anyone else would at least buy the odd bottle of wine,” “Not any more.” Paul said, rolling away. “Talk about out of touch.” “I like to watch you move around this place.” “The man is lost,” I said, “that’s all.” He shivered. or some reason, Ryan got the best bed in the cottage. It “Here,” I said, lifting up the duvet. “Get warm.” He slipped was a new firm mattress, wrapped in a zippered plastic like quicksilver out of his blanket and under mine. He was bag that rustled noisily whenever he flipped about in his smooth as the handle of a knife, slim as a boy, cool as china. sleep. Our bed was bigger, but old and it sagged. Since Paul His beard didn’t scratch too much when we kissed. I froze, was six foot two, his weight in the middle left me feeling as if listening for Paul’s near-snore, which rasped on, and Ryan’s I was clinging to the crest of the mattress all night long. The rustling plastic. “You are a jewel,” Dylan breathed into my room had just enough space for the bed and a dresser with ear. “A precious shining jewel.” one stuck drawer. On hot nights, I would often move to the screened-in porch to sleep on the sofa bed. I liked feeling the he skies were turning a harder, more brilliant blue, and the lake water now appeared more solid and navy blue. cushions up against my back, and my feet solid against the The water was almost too cold for swimming. The mist that tufted upholstered arms.

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Bob Dylan Goes Tubing

rose from the surface of the lake each morning took longer few days later, when we were packing up the cottage, each day to lift. The top leaves of a few maples were red. we took the boat over to Arnie’s marina to go into storOur porch encounter was never repeated, nor mentioned. age. Arnie winched the boat up the rails and out of the Paul suspected nothing, and he even began to warm to Dylan water. when the two of them started playing his old vinyl Johnny “Before I forget, there’s a letter here for you,” he said as Cash albums. Paul found a Valdy record, Smorgas Bard, at a we were paying up in his office full of life jackets and fishgarage sale in town and gave it to Dylan. So they made their ing nets. He handed us an enveloped addressed to Ryan, care connection. As for me, on the rainy afternoons when Ryan of Warners’ Marina, Sturgeon Lake. He finally got that right. lay on the couch reading old National Geographics with his It was written on motel stationery from a Best Western in headphones on, and the two men were listening to Johnny Boise, Idaho. Cash sing “Girl from the North Country,” I couldn’t have Ryan, Didn’t want to wake you up, but thanks for all the rides, been happier. All my men at peace, under one roof. man — and the chorus is just the same, A, D, E, only barre chords Then one Sunday morning, early, I heard the Citroën sound better. Tube on, Bobby turn over, stealthily, and catch. I heard the car revving in reThe owners of our cottage, Sheila and Tony, lived in a bigverse, as it slowly backed down our gravel road, swishing ger place on the next lake over. When we got back from the marina, they were waiting for us, sitting round the seldompast the tall poplars. used picnic table over the septic tank, where the grass was “He’s gone,” I whispered to Paul. long and green. “Probably just went to town for smokes.” “Tim’s firm has transferred him to Toronto,” Tony began, “It’s Sunday. Nothing’s open this early.” We got up, expecting a note, or possibly a cheque, but “which we’re happy about, of course.” Tim was their married son and it turned out that his famthere was no sign of anything. I went into his room; the bed was neatly made. Ryan’s sock monkey with the Xs for eyes ily wanted to take over the cottage next summer. They felt leaned against the pillow. In the kitchen I noticed that the badly, but they really had no choice. “I can still go to camp, though?” Ryan asked. latest box from the bakery was gone. “He fucking took my bun,” said Paul. He went to check I felt I ought to tell them something about our guest, but I the row of albums, “and Smorgas Bard too.” didn’t know what to say. Watch out for Bob Dylan? When Ryan woke up, we told him Bob had to leave early, to catch a plane, to go back on tour. He was disapo that’s what happens when you rent. You have to be pointed because they were right in the middle of learning prepared to move on. But we would find a new lake; the north was littered with lakes. Or try Quebec, where prices “You Never Can Tell” by Chuck Berry. “He’s on the road most of the year,” I reminded him. “Next were lower. time he comes through town, I’m sure he’ll look us up.” One thing bothered me when we got back to the city, “A hundred bucks we never hear from him again,” said though. Somehow, in all the packing and unpacking, I had Paul. lost Dylan’s note to Ryan. Our time with him had become But I am a romantic. I didn’t need to see him again. a family secret — something that might or might not have taken place. Like the dream of summer when you try to think of it in winter. The tube was stowed in the garage, and the gyres of autumn began to turn and mesh. In January, Dylan’s new album, Madawaska, came out. When I heard the title, my heart raced. Paul downloaded it as soon as it showed up online, and the two of us sat at the computer, scanning the song titles. None rang a bell. Maybe I was afraid of, or hoping for, something called “Precious Jewel,” or “Swimmer’s Legs.” The music was traditional bluegrass, with fiddles, and Emmylou Harris singing ethereal harmony with Dylan on the title tune: “And all along the Madawaska / I’ve been thinking of the night / When the moon rose up in splendour / And your step was young and light.” A plain song, like “Red River Valley.” Paul played it twice, and neither of us spoke. Maybe that was it, my sign. Another song, fast and driving, was an incredible story about a stable full of famous race horses that burns to the ground. Later, in the middle of the night, I got up and played “Madawaska” again, with the headphones on. There was another line in it, about night air cool as water. My guess would be that it was Sturgeon Lake air. I went ahead with “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” that in my mind. Everyone craves evidence, after all, evi– Frank Sinatra (1956) dence that a time was real, even for five minutes. O

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fiction

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The Pr inciples of Exile

by Camilla Gibb illustration by Kate Wilson

y mother has sent me out to Saint-Denis by Métro, because Alsan, the cleaner at her office, has told her that the best halloumi is to be found floating in a bucket at the back of a Lebanese bakery in the market on Rue de la République. My mother would make the cheese herself if she could, just as she is making baklava from whisperthin sheets of phyllo and honey produced by bees raised in fields of lavender. For Monsieur Sarkis, a man whose picture sits framed on top of the piano as if he is a relative, nothing but the best will do. My father tells her she needn’t bother — we’ll cater, we’ll order, we’ll dine at Le Paradis — but my mother is insistent: we will entertain at home and she will cook, for this is a man who for so long did not have the safety and comfort of a home, living in hiding, under threat of a fatwa calling for

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his assassination for the better part of a decade. The fatwa was finally lifted last year and Sarkis’s new book is about to be launched in Paris. My father, his French publisher, has been talking of little else for months, even losing interest in the Swiss copy editor with the shiny black bob and pert breasts. Ours is a small publishing house established by my grandfather from money inherited from his father, an engineer who built railway lines in Africa. My father, attempting to shake off the colonial residue when he took over as publisher in 1969, dropped the word “Dark” and relaunched the house as simply Continent Editions. He did not make any significant money, and did not expect to when he signed on a relatively unknown Lebanese-American author named David Sarkis who had penned a startling novella about a Muslim cleric’s sexual awakening.

The British edition was published first. We could never have anticipated the reaction. Radical Muslim clerics immediately denounced the book as a defamation of Islam, and others raised enough money to offer a million-dollar reward for Sarkis’s head. Our edition quickly followed, as did deals for publication in twenty-seven other countries. Suddenly, and unexpectedly, Continent Editions had a bestseller, and David Sarkis was a star. My father thrived on this recognition, a reward that seemed worth the threat of the black Mercedes with tinted windows that started following him home from work, worth the inconvenience of having to change his route every day, worth the expense of hiring a driver, worth the seriousness of the bodyguard the government assigned to protect us, worth the threat to himself, to my mother, and to me. Until he received the letter threatening to kidnap me, at which point my

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and rocks and sky and the occasional three-legged dog out there. There was nowhere for me to run except back to Trudy’s house, where I slept in a shared room wallpapered with palm trees on white sandy beaches. Trudy was the sister of someone who worked in publishing in Sydney and she was a nurse, although there was no hospital in the town. Her husband, Mathias, was only home on weekends because he spent the week prospecting for oil in the desert. I was never sure whether either of them actualhe squat, veiled woman behind the counter has her eye on ly knew why I was there, but I was quite sure that even if I’d me as I scan the shelves, as if I’m about to make off with had the language to explain it, they would not have been parsomething. I’m taking it all in: the sweaty smell of cumin, the ticularly interested. sizzle of frying falafel patties, the sour smell of vinegar emanMathias would sit across from me at the linoleum table in ating from the vats of Greek olives. A boy who must be her the kitchen drinking beer on Friday nights and talk to Trudy’s son — taller than her and pockmarked by acne — asks me if back while she stood at the counter chopping carrots. I could he can help me find something, while she slips behind a cur- tell he was talking about me long before I spoke English. tain. I tell him I have come for cheese. He says they have no “You should ask for more money, Trude,” he would say. “You cheese and I ask him: “Not even halloumi?” see how much he eats?” “Halloumi, we have,” he says. One of my first thoughts in English was a resolution to “And isn’t halloumi cheese?” eat less. “Yes,” he says. “How much do you want?” The boy’s mother reemerges, realizing that I am harmy mother has always thought Sarkis very handsome. less, just a man who doesn’t know exactly what he wants. Perhaps a wanted man is always handsome. He is rather She says something to her son in Arabic and he translates: portly and olive-skinned, with a thick black moustache and “What are you using it for?” beard, and eyebrows that nearly meet in the mid“I don’t know exactly,” I admit. “My mother, dle. His beard allegedly conceals a scar on his chin, she’s making Lebanese food,” adding, “for a Lebathe legacy of his having been knifed by a Mossad nese man.” agent after seducing the man’s daughter — a story The squat woman winks at me, evidently underthat is legendary and, most likely, apocryphal, but standing. She pulls a plastic bag off a roll and now immortalized as the plot of his new novel. plunges her hand into a white, plastic bucket beI only came to read his work years later. It was hind her. She captures a big piece of halloumi his short stories that moved me, particularly the one about a man in prison who helps a desponfloating in the water and deftly inverts the bag. “He’s just a friend of the family,” I explain, “not a friend dent spider mend its broken web by offering the spider his exactly, a writer, a famous writer, we published his book, per- eyelashes one by one. That story was an enormous comfort haps you know him? David Sarkis?” to me. I was that web — that thin, near-transparent, hidden The squat woman squints, opens the plastic bag, spits thing, torn in a corner. I was that spider, trapped in a prison onto the halloumi, twists and ties the neck of the bag, and without walls or cellmates. Trudy and Mathias had a daughter named Tammy, about thrusts it into my hand. I am left standing there holding this clear plastic bag at my age, as well as a son, Tommy, who was still wearing diaarm’s length as if it contains a dead goldfish. I hand over all pers even though he was nearly eight. Tommy stayed at the the money in my pocket to the boy. Perhaps he shares the house of the lady next door while Tammy and I were at same view of Sarkis as his mother; he makes no effort to school and Trudy was at work. hand me any change. And I make no effort to ask for it. Tammy found the fact that I didn’t speak English inordinately funny and took to calling me Frog Legs, a nickname she was not happy about being forced to leave Paris, particu- soon shared with the entire grade. By the time I was stamlarly when I had just been introduced to the world under- mering just enough English to survive, I had suffered the neath Isabel’s school uniform. I understood the principle be- humiliation of being made to crouch and croak and eat flies hind having to leave, though I had trouble comprehending by older children in the schoolyard. They would stand in a how it was that a fourteen-year-old boy from Paris should be circle, a circle of identical faces, lightly bronzed and wildsent away because of the publication of a book he had never eyed and framed with blond hair, shouting orders, kicking read by a Lebanese-American man he had never met. It made up the dirt. As much as I longed to be able to explain my presence to me feel the world was very small and perhaps it is for just that reason that my parents had to send me away. them, the English I was acquiring was not so much for converAnd big it became: endless. The dusty town in the mid- sation as self-defence. I quietly stocked my arsenal and waited dle of a continent on the other side of the world gave way for the inevitable. I had fast become attuned to the cues, the to dusty desert on all sides. The schoolyard had no fences — subtle shifts in classroom weather, the tension rising like a ciwhat would have been the point? There was nothing but sand cada’s crescendo in the heat. The day that a group of students

mother, for all she shared in the excitement, for all it seemed to have reinvigorated their marriage, said: enough. My father’s solution was to stop the driver outside a travel agency after picking me up from school the following day, and ask the agent to book me a ticket to the furthest place possible. At fourteen, I was sent off to Australia — and not to Sydney or Melbourne, but to the remote and desolate interior — without a return date.

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I

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The Principles of Exile

For the first time, I felt as if there was someone other than Sarkis, author of a short story about a spider, who understood me. I would marry Marta if she weren’t a lesbian.
standing in a bristling cluster during lunch break ignored me when I tripped over my shoelace, I knew my time was up. The cabbage I’d eaten started to pickle in my stomach. “Hey, wait up,” Tammy yelled, as I pushed my way down the hallway and out through the swinging door. I turned around and saw her smirking through the glass, while behind me a group of boys assembled. I stood in the middle of their shrinking circle, my knees about to buckle. And then I timidly raised my gun. Something dribbled rather than shot out of my mouth. “What’d you say?” shouted one of the more thick-necked of the bunch. “Can’t hear you mate,” another said, pushing me up against the school’s grey wall. My chest inflated with the stink of his armpits and the desert dust and I bellowed, “Fuck you, you shitty buggers!” The bully backed up and I wiped my mouth of the spit caused by all those hard consonants. Then the wall of boys crumbled. In strode Mr. Henry, the grade eight math teacher. He grabbed the back of my neck and squeezed. “Profanity, my little Frenchman, might be the way you communicate au Paris, but here it is completely unacceptable.” I ended up on a bench outside the principal’s office. There was one other boy there — the only aboriginal boy in the school. I tried to make conversation. “Have you ever been on a school trip?” I asked. The boy looked at me with raised eyebrows and said nothing. “Last year my class took a trip to the Dordogne. To see the cave paintings,” I said, thinking he might know something about cave paintings. The boy turned his full attention back to the scab on his knee. “Hey,” I said then, lowering my voice, “tell me, what’s going to happen?” “Whippin’,” he said, popping the scab, by then wedged under his fingernail, into his mouth. I cannot remember the last time she was in the kitchen, with the exception of the one time Marta came to visit. My mother was convinced Marta was my girlfriend, my first since Isabel, and so, despite my repeated protestations, she baked a cake in honour of her arrival. Marta praised its delicacy, its subtle anise flavour. “I’ll give you the recipe,” my mother said. “It’s Emmanuel’s favourite.” Marta kicked me under the table. Later, undressing in my room, Marta commented on the transparency of my poor mother’s attempts to engage her. The guest room was conveniently unavailable, my mother claimed, due to mould growing under the wallpaper because of the heavy spring rains. It was embarrassing enough that I still lived with my parents, but now Marta could see the pathetic evidence of the only victories in my life — chess trophies and assorted certificates of merit for things like poetry recitation — that covered my boy-bedroom wall. I resisted the urge to look while she undressed, but I could smell the lavender talc of her skin when she removed her blouse and pulled her nightdress over her head. My mother strains the soaking lentils over the sink. I sauté the onions and garlic and a small green chilli in a pot, and when they begin to brown, I tip in the soft lentils and stir. “Marta wishes she could be here,” I say as casually as possible. My mother stops humming. “She just couldn’t believe Sarkis was coming.” My mother sniffs her hands and grimaces. I met Marta by chance a few years ago. She was accompanying her father, Sarkis’s German publisher, to the Frankfurt Book Fair, and when we were introduced, I was struck by her peculiar-sounding French. While I had been in Australia, Marta had been in a small town in Canada, though I did not know that at the time, did not know there were children of Sarkis’s publishers scattered about the world, living in its most remote and lonely places. Over a drink, Marta told me about her two years of exile in a small fishing village in New Brunswick. The connection between us was immediate. For the first time, I felt as if there was someone other than Sarkis, author of a short story about a spider, who understood me. I would marry Marta if she weren’t a lesbian. My mother no longer approves of Marta and would not have invited her to join us for dinner. It is not that Marta is a lesbian; it is that she has asked me if I will be a sperm donor, or rather, it is that I am considering it. My mother should be happy — this way I might actually stand a chance of being a father.

M

y mother is making fish, a whole white fish from her favourite fishmonger. She’s patting its silver back dry with a paper towel while she peruses a slim, photocopied booklet called “Cooking with the First Lady of Egypt.” There is a very badly reproduced photograph of President Gamal Abdel Nasser standing fuzzy and askew on the cover, followed by an introduction written in broken English about socialist revolution, collective harvesting, and traditional cuisine. I am chopping onions and garlic while my mother stands beside me, sprinkling earthy green olive oil onto the fish. She is humming “Les enfants qui s’aiment.” She massages the oil into the skin and sprinkles it with cumin and salt and pepper. She lines the cavity with slices of lemon and threads of saffron. The fish looks proud in its dressing and my mother looks even more proud in her apron.

T

here were two boys at our school who really were not boys, but men. Perhaps they were as old as twenty. One had failed repeatedly because his brain had been damaged from sniffing glue, and the other, so they said, had missed

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two years of school while in juvie. When the aboriginal boy and he had come to stay over the Christmas holidays. left, they turned their full attention to Frog Legs. I had a sudden flashback to my Christmas in the outback. The one who had been in prison whacked me in the back Mathias had grilled sausages on the barbie, fatty squat things of the knees with a stick. Once I was down, the one who slathered in tomato sauce that he poked aggressively with a sniffed glue shoved my face into the dirt and dragged my fork until they looked as if they had been shot twenty times with an air rifle. There were a lot of people getting loud on a cheek over a rock. Trudy applied antiseptic to my face that night and told me lot of beer and Tammy mimicking fellatio at me with a sweatshe didn’t need any more problems. Mathias smirked, then ing sausage behind her father’s back. I’d hated myself for getoffered to teach me how to use my fists, which I declined. ting hard and going to relieve myself in the toilet. “Pussy,” I heard him say. “It was partly that I felt sorry for him,” Marta said. “That I wasn’t even sure how to reach my parents then. The gov- is, until he was lying on top of me.” ernment had them in protection, moving them from flat to He came into her room, which was just a converted closet, flat. So I sat on my bed and scratched at the ringed bark of drunk on homemade booze. He crawled into her bed, lifted the palm trees on the wall and decided that I would eat even her nightgown, and without a word, pushed himself into her. less in the hope of becoming invisible. When she cried out, he cupped his palm over her mouth, and When I returned home after eighteen months, my mother quickly finished. He left her as silently as he’d come into her said I looked very handsome — I’d lost all my baby fat. She room but the next day, over breakfast, he looked at her with couldn’t see what else I’d lost. Perhaps I would have told her something like love in his eyes and she excused herself to go if I’d had the words. Strangely, the words only seemed to and vomit up her oatmeal. She chewed parsley every morcome with Marta, beginning that very first night in Frank- ning for the next month. The woman she lived with kept a bag full of it in the freezer. furt when she spoke her funny French to me. The dispatcher comes back on the line. “He dropped him t half past seven the table is set. My mother fills a large off at his hotel, sir,” he says. “At about eight o’clock.” jug with water and ice and adds a slice of lemon. She “But he was due here then,” I stammer. “Was the driver toasts Lebanese flatbread. She changes her skirt twice; her not instructed to bring him here?” “Apparently he said he was rather tired.” blouse twice. She dusts her eyelids with blue powder. She I thank him, and put the phone down gently. sits down with my father in the library, then immediately stands up again. She paces around the apartment. She heats “So?” my mother asks, suddenly standing in the doorway the oven, stirs the lentils, and turns down the heat. with her hands on her hips. “Well, it seems there was some emergency and he had to At nine o’clock she finally speaks. “René? Where on earth return to New York.” I shake my head and shrug. “The drivdo you think he is?” My father puts down his newspaper and peers over his er took him to the airport.” glasses. “I’m sure he’ll be here soon.” “My god,” is all she says, expressionless. Then: “René? “But really, René, he’s already over an hour late.” René?” and the clack of her heels against the parquet down “What’s one more hour when we’ve been waiting ten the hall to the library. years?” “It’s a burnt dinner, that’s what it is.” “I told you we should have had it catered.” “That’s not the point,” she says, pushing a stray hair out of her eyes. “Emmanuel?” she says, turning to me. “Ring the car service will you? Find out where he is.” I return to the kitchen, turn off the oven, and call the dispatcher. He puts me on hold while he radios the driver. Madonna sings “Like a Virgin” in my ear and I smell the skin of the fish turning black. Marta kissed me once. It was a couple of years ago. She was quite drunk when she suddenly tipped her barstool forward and leaned into my mouth, saying she just wanted to know what it felt like. So what did it feel like, I wanted to know. She shrugged her shoulders. “Confirmation.” I must have looked hurt. “Oh, Manny,” she said, stroking my cheek. “It’s me, not you.” As if to reassure me, she told me the story of losing her virginity. The man was a widower, though he wasn’t that old: his wife had died of botulism from a crab cake the year before. He “Dance Me to the End of Love” – Leonard Cohen (1984) was a cousin of the woman Marta lived with in New Brunswick

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We spend every evening twisting on the same stools in the same bar, inventing the rest of our lives. She knows the Australian desert chapter so well it is as if it happened to her.

P

erhaps the world is at its most awful when you are fourteen years old and effectively orphaned, sacrificed for the sake of some higher principle that you have trouble enough understanding even when it doesn’t translate into having your face mashed into the dirt by five bullies high on glue. I remember two of them standing on my shoulders while Tammy tugged down my trousers and laughed at the sight of me. “Look at his sagging grundies! He’s got no bum! Oh my god, he’s got no bum!” she kept shrieking. “What about a clacker?” one of them said. “Yeah, see if you can find his clacker, Tammy. Give it a burl. Or maybe he shits out his mouth.” Two of them wrenched my legs apart and pinned them down. They took turns jabbing at me with a stick. I was already thousands of miles away from home; the only place left was beyond Earth, freed from gravity. It was Tammy who went deep. It was Trudy who saw the blood on the sheets the following morning and said: “I told you I don’t want any trouble. I have enough problems as it is.” It was Tommy who cried. It was Mathias who said: “I don’t think he can stay here anymore.” It was my mother who commented that I looked good, I’d lost weight, become a man. She had me sit for a photograph shortly after arriving home. And my mother chooses to display this photo above all others on the piano next to Sarkis — me looking like some thin, undomesticated shaft of wheat; Sarkis looking like a shining, plump stuffed olive.

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arta and I make a ritual out of the Frankfurt Book Fair. We spend every evening twisting on the same stools in the same bar, inventing the rest of our lives. She knows the Australian desert chapter so well it is as if it happened to her in New Brunswick. She knows everything I know about the two women I have craved in adulthood, including the sad fact that I have never found the courage to do anything more than pay for their coffee. She knows me so well she will never approach me unexpectedly from behind, never touch my back, or make reference to my appearance. It was only last year that I told her about Isabel. When I returned from Australia, Isabel, unexpectedly, had been there; she said she had been waiting all year. And this should have meant something — I had never been terribly popular and here was one of the prettiest girls in the entire school reserving herself for me. It should have meant even more than that: someone had missed me, felt my absence, kept a place. But I just couldn’t respond. I didn’t feel anything. Isabel started weeping and I sat there stunned, in the wake of her naked declaration, unable to reach out or say anything. Isabel refused to speak to me for the rest of the year. Finally, desperately, at the beginning of the summer holidays, I found myself at the door to her flat. When she opened

the door, I reached out and fumbled with the front of her blouse — I grabbed her breast, in lieu of speaking. “What is wrong with you? ” she screamed. “Get your hands off me!” And I remember thinking: but I thought this was what you wanted. “You poor, poor darling,” Marta had said, her knees knocking against mine. She reached out and touched my cheek, then leaned in and kissed me again, lemonflavoured, on the mouth. She took my hand and raised it to her breast. “Marta, don’t,” I said, grabbing her forearms and pushing her back. “It doesn’t work that way.” She bit her lip as she smiled and said: “Well, actually, Manny? I have an ulterior motive.” I have always assumed it was just that Sarkis didn’t know about the legions of children who were torn up by the roots and forced to live out a year, if not an eternity, in unearthed desperation. I have always assumed that until tonight. But now the lentils are burnt. As is the fish. And my mother is in a collapse of tears. “How could he not call us?” she says, flipping the lid of the garbage can. “How could someone not call us? I cooked all this food.” The fish slides off the plate. She tips over the pot of lentils. My mother’s mascara travels the rivulets of her face. She says she’s going to bed. My father has fallen asleep in his chair in the library. In the silence of the kitchen I pour myself a brandy, lean back against the kitchen counter, and pick up the phone. Marta does not bother with hello. “So? Is he still there?” “He didn’t show up, Marta.” “What?” I can hear her whole body subsiding, can picture the dramatic slump of her shoulders. “I know. Apparently he decided he was tired and went back to his hotel.” “I cannot believe it,” she says. “He didn’t even call.” “How difficult is it to call? How hard is it to say thank you? Or sorry, for that matter.” I am silent. I never expected thank you. Or sorry. If I expected anything, I suppose it was more like an eyelash, a tiny renewable piece of self, given freely to another; a simple gesture that can facilitate the fragile restoration of a web. “At a minimum,” says Marta, emphasizing each syllable. Or the critical piece that allows for the creation of an entirely new web, one in which the donor is inextricably a part. “I thought I might come for a visit,” I say. “Really? Wonderful.” “A serious visit. Perhaps for a month.” Kiss me again, Marta, I will say to her. Kiss me again. — To listen to a podcast featuring Camilla Gibb at the 2007 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, visit walrusmagazine.com.

Away from cities and crowds and machines, On a sea of tranquility, closer than you ever imagined, You come to understand exactly why, People come to, and fall in love with, Nunavut. Enjoy!

For a list of outfitters offering wildlife encounters in Nunavut go to www.NunavutTourism.com. and order your free Nunavut Travel Planner!

j uly /au g u s t 2 0 0 7

drama

big
t i c k e t
by Jim Garrard

the characters Dave ................................................. Tow truck operator Annie ............................................................... Realtor Billy .................................................................... Biker For a complete list of characters and the full text of Big Ticket, visit walrusmagazine.com/bigticket.

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Early evening. A grimy auto-pound office — in a trailer. Ambient light through barred windows. Traffic noise from expressway overhead. City sounds, not very far off. dave, a big roughneck tow truck operator in biker gear, in his early thirties, is negotiating with annie, stylishly dressed, about the same age. They appear to be strangers. Annie claims she wants to pay Dave to abduct and terrify her husband. Dave proposes to bring the husband to the auto pound and lock him up in a chain-link cage used for safe storage. Annie explores the interior of the cage. Dave watches. She’s trying to be seductive. annie: So what’s all this going to cost me? dave: If I don’t have to break nothin’, five hundred bucks. annie: That’s pretty reasonable. dave: This kind of thing’s just a sideline for me. Helps me relax. Besides, a pretty woman like you shouldn’t have to put up with assholes. annie: That’s very sweet of you to say, Dave. Lock the door. dave: What for? annie: Lock me in. Just for a minute. I want to know what it feels like to be incarcerated. dave: You’re the customer. He locks her inside. annie: Hmmn. This is pretty exciting. dave: How so? annie: It’s scary really. You hear the lock click and you feel so helpless. You ever bring women here? dave: I brought you, didn’t I? annie: I mean for pleasure. You ever lock any women up in here? dave: We had a woman one time left her kid in her car at rush hour in a tow-away zone with the engine running. Cops took the kid. We took the car. She came down here and bit my dispatcher on the elbow. We locked her up pretty good. annie: You ever bring any women in here, after hours? Women that don’t really want to be here? You know, like with you and the cops? After hours? Any cozy stuff like that? dave: You ask a lot of questions. What are you—a detective? Annie laughs. So does Dave. annie: Although there’s not a lot of room in here. For stuff. The atmosphere thickens a little. annie: Of course, it doesn’t have to take a lot of room.

dave: Is that an invitation? annie: Depends on how I’m feeling. dave: How are you feeling? annie: I’m feeling like I’m here with an outlaw, Dave, a real tough customer. He’s got me at his mercy. He could do anything to me. dave: I’m probably not as tough as I look. annie: I bet. C’mon in, why don’t you? He hesitates. annie (as if to a dog): C’mon. C’mon. Be a good boy. He unlocks the gate and goes in. It’s awkward for him. There’s not much room inside. annie: Let me help you out of those dirty, dirty clothes. dave: You don’t waste any time, do you? She removes his leather jacket, unbuttons his shirt, pulls off his boots, takes off his pants. This takes a while. She steps outside the cage and piles his clothing on a chair. She pushes the door of the cage shut and locks it, removes Dave’s keys, leaving him locked inside in his underwear. She opens a plastic bottle of water. annie: How you feeling now? Kinda creepy don’t you think? dave: I don’t really go for this kind of shit. annie: How you feeling though? Kinda sexy? dave: I’ll feel a whole lot sexier when you unlock that door and get your pretty little ass back in here. annie: You’re so pathetic. dave: I’m what?

“Peach Trees” – Rufus Wainwright (2004)

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annie: Pathetic. Look at you. Big tough guy in his underwear. I wonder what your cop buddies are going to think about that. dave: Okay, so I’m pathetic. I’m at your mercy. I get it. Now let me out of here. annie: That’ll be the frosty Friday. dave: Look. This isn’t all that funny. annie: Get used to it. You’re gonna be in there for quite a long time. dave: Don’t be stupid. What about your husband? annie: I don’t have a husband. dave: Then what’s this all about? What did I do? annie: You towed my fucking car away, Dave. That’s the problem. She throws the rest of her water in his face. Dave is shocked into silence. It takes him a moment to respond. dave: You . . . lying . . . little . . . pig. Like a gorilla, he shakes the cage violently. He gives up and presses his face hard against the fencing. dave (roaring): You do all this because you think I towed your fucking car away? annie: I know you did. I know it was you. I saw you. It wasn’t the first time. dave: If you value your life — at all — you better let me out of this cage right now. annie: I’ve had about a thousand parking tickets, Dave. Almost none of them made any sense to me. Five times I had my car towed away. Three of those times this disgusting place is where I had to come to get it back. dave: Look. This is sick. Give me my clothes back and let me out of this fucking cage. annie: Last time I was towed it was you. I was parked outside a hospital — getting a biopsy for Christ’s sake! I was five minutes late getting back and you had me hooked up already. You and your wormy little prick partner parking cop were standing there waiting for the meter to expire. I begged you, I begged you both, to please let me have my car back. No, you said; it was too late. dave: Unlock the door, bitch, or die. annie: You’re a vampire. You, the cops, the parking cops, the politicians — all the people in this racket — you’re all vampires. Dave shakes the fence violently. Annie holds back a sob. annie: My little boy’s birthday cake was in that car! I missed his party! My little boy had his birthday party with no cake. Do you know what that means? Weren’t you ever a little boy? What in hell happened to you? dave: This is forcible confinement, lady. It’s the same as kidnapping. You’ll go to jail.

annie: You were both so rude. You laughed and drove away and left me standing on the sidewalk. dave: You’ll go to jail! annie: I don’t care. dave: I will kill you. I’m not kidding. annie: So you keep saying, Dave, but I . . . don’t . . . care. The only thing I do care about is making you suffer. Not just for me, but for all the other thousands of people you leech off. I’m going to make you an example. So all the other bottom-feeders in your business get to see what happens when good people get pushed too far. dave: Look. Annie. You’re upset. I can see that. Maybe I made a mistake. But I do think you’re overreacting a bit. I was just doing my job. It’s against the law to park in prohibited areas. You’re not being reasonable. She comes closer. annie: How about I park something in one of your prohibited areas? dave: What makes you so sure you’ve got the right guy? annie: I saw you with my own eyes. Plus. . . She yanks a notebook from her purse. annie (reading): “David Mason Markus.” Is that not you? “Proprietor, Dave’s Towing and Auto Pound.” Is that not you? “acsm 833.” Is that not the licence number on your truck? “Cindy.” Is that not the name you’ve got painted right underneath your hood ornament? “Moose.” Is that not what your friends and former fellow inmates call you? “Six feet, two inches. Two hundred and ten pounds, brown hair, brown eyes. Birthmark, left elbow. Fire-breathing dragon tattoo, right bicep.” Is that not you? “Three months less a day in the Brampton Correctional Facility for assaulting your high school teacher.” Do you not recognize that person . . . Moose? He slumps down, head in hands. dave: Okay, it was me. I apologize. Now why don’t you just forget about all that shit and get back in here so I can take you some places you’ve never been before. annie: What kind of places? What do you mean by that? What kind of places have I never been before? dave: I think you know. annie: No, I don’t know. What kind of places would you take me to where I’ve never been before — exactly? Are we talking tongue here? dave: I’m thinking about forgetting about all this bullshit and you and me just get it on. You’ll like it. It’s what you want, isn’t it? That’s what this is really all about? annie: I honestly can’t believe what kind of pathetic weasel you are. dave: You’re getting off on this.

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annie: In what way are you defective? How is it that you can’t even begin to understand the nature of the evil you inflict on the world? You’re an ape. You’re less than an ape. I don’t want to live in a world with people like you in it. dave: Okay, okay, I get it. You’re not that kind of chick. annie: None of us is that kind of chick, Dave. dave: You think I’m a bad person. annie: Of course I do! You descend on people at random. Like Robin Hood in reverse. You take from the innocent and give to the government. Do you have any idea how much harm the government can do with that much money? Pause. dave: You’re not being very fair. You don’t know me. I breathe. I eat. I sleep. Just like you. I have a kid. I have a dog. I like to watch TV. I go for walks in the woods. Where in fuck do you get off calling me stupid, criticizing my life? You don’t even know who I am. annie: Do all your trucks have names? dave: Most of them. annie: Who’s Cindy? Anybody? dave: I knew her in high school. annie: Was she your first? dave: I never got into her pants, if that’s what you mean. She was kind of like a Salvation Army chick — hot, like, but not hot for me. I liked her but I don’t think she really knew that. I was pretty shy back then. annie: Do you think about her? dave: I do sometimes. annie: And you named a truck after her? dave: Yeah. annie: Do you have any idea how idiotic that seems to me? She goes out. Dogs bark. Truck door slams shut. She returns, lugging a can of gas. annie: This is gasoline. Right? She holds up a lighter. This is a lighter. Right? Lights it. You’re locked up. You can’t get out. And you deserve to die. Right? dave: Look, Annie, I don’t deserve to die. There are all kinds of people worse than me out there. annie: Hah! dave: Really. Really, I don’t. I don’t go looking for trouble. I’ve got troubles of my own. You ask me to do a job for you; I agree to help you out. And this is how you thank me. But that’s okay. Probably we’re never going to see eye-to-eye on this, Annie. I mean maybe in your case we made a mistake. Christ, nobody’s perfect. Why don’t we just agree to disagree? Why don’t I just write you a nice little cheque to cover your expenses and we’ll let it go at that, no hard feelings.

annie: It took me two hours the first time to track down my car. Apparently it’s nobody’s job to tell people where their cars have gone. Then I had to make my way down to this wasteland, where there aren’t even any sidewalks, let alone any public transportation. I mean, what kind of sadistic bastard makes these arrangements? Pay you. Pay the cops. Get leered at by louts. Get grunted at by some greasy, fat, unpleasant excuse for a woman you pay to stand behind that counter and treat people like shit. That’s your real business, isn’t it Dave? You get rich humiliating people at their own expense. Well, we’ll just see about that. She splashes a little gasoline on the floor around the cage. Dave is agitated. dave: Now look, let’s not get too carried away here. You’re putting our lives at risk here. You don’t really want to do that. annie: Oh, but I do. Pause. Annie fiddles with the office phone, switching on the speaker phone. Brief, loud dial tone. She activates the yard intercom. Her voice booms outside in the yard. annie: Moooooooooooose! Mooooose Markus is an asshole. Moose Markus is a total asshole. (She laughs and switches off the intercom.) This is fun. You want to call somebody? On the phone? dave: Like who? annie: Anybody you want. Maybe get a buddy to come down and help you out. Call the police if you feel like it. dave: You serious? annie: Sure I am. dave: I can’t reach the phone. Annie activates the speaker phone again. Loud dial tone. annie: Gimme a number. I’ll dial it for you. dave: 972-9476? She dials. Several rings. Voice of Billy over the speaker phone. billy: Hello. dave (shouting across the room): Billy, it’s Dave. I’m in a bit of a jam, down at the yard. I was wondering if you could come down and help me straighten things out. billy: What kind of a jam? dave: It’s kind of hard to explain. There’s a woman here. She’s not too happy. She’s talking about torching the place. billy: Give her a good smack in the head. Annie fiddles with the surveillance monitor. Turns it on. dave: It’s not that simple, Billy. She’s kinda got the jump on me. Gate and yard outside appear on monitor.

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Annie switches to the inside camera. She looks at herself and Dave on the monitor. Waves her arms to check that she’s seeing herself live. billy: You sound like you’re down a well. dave: I’m in the cooler, Billy. She’s got me locked in the cooler. She’s got a can of gasoline. annie: He’s not kidding, Billy. Come on down and have a look for yourself. Maybe bring a little barbecue sauce. dave: She’s nuts, Billy. billy: Has she got a gun? dave: I don’t think so. Just a goddamn can of gas. She’s a psycho. billy: How’d she get you into the cooler? dave: Billy, for fuck’s sake! It’s a long story. Just come on down here with a couple of the guys and talk some sense into this woman. Before it’s too late. billy: I don’t know, man, we got the game on. annie: He’s pissing his pants, Billy. You better get down here. Bring a couple of the guys. And a camera. billy: Hey, lady, be cool okay? Okay, we’ll be there in about fifteen minutes. Get this all sorted out. Dial tone. Annie disconnects. Pause. annie: You called me a psycho. dave: You don’t want to be here when Billy gets here. You think I’m a rough customer. Wait ’til you meet Billy. annie: What’s Billy gonna do? If he’s anything like you he’s probably a pussy too. dave: He’s a killer.

annie: You think he might kill me. dave: Maybe worse. annie: How’s he gonna get in? dave: Sledgehammer would be my guess. You better fuck off out of here before he arrives. annie: How’s he going to get past the cops? dave: What cops? annie: If you weren’t so stupid you could have got yourself out of this with just a spanking . . . . Excuse me just a moment. Psycho Girl will . . . be . . . right . . . back. She goes outside with the gas can. The guard dogs bark up a storm. After a minute, she returns, with the nearly empty can. dave: What? annie: Looks like Cindy’s really got the hots for you now. Finally. In fact, she’s burning up, hotter than she’s ever, ever been before, hotter than a firecracker. dave: What do you mean? annie: Cindy’s on fire for you! dave: What do you mean? What’d you do? annie: All I did was light the match. You supplied the motivation. dave: For what? annie: I set fire to your truck. dave: I don’t think so. Even you’re not that nuts. annie: Just look. Look. See for yourself. Flicker of flames seen through window. She goes close to him. annie: Look me right in the eye. Your . . . truck . . . is . . . on . . . fire. I . . . set . . . fire . . . to . . . your . . . truck. He listens, cranes his neck to see out the window. The flames flicker brighter. Crackling can be heard. dave: You crazy bitch, it’s true! My truck! Christ Almighty Jesus! My truck! (He shakes the fence violently.) Let me out. I got to put the fire out, I got to stop it. Let me out. Jesus! Annie doesn’t move or speak. Dave starts to cry a little. dave: Please, Annie, I got to get out there. I’m sorry for any bad things I may have done to you. Please. Please. I live in that truck. That truck is my life. Sirens in the distance, approaching. annie: Funny, isn’t it, when the shoe is on the other foot?
to find out what happens when the media and the mayor get involved, and dave and annie get on closer terms, visit walrusmagazine.com/bigticket.

“Because the Night” – Patti Smith (1978)

illustration: e. f. richardson

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food

S ufi G our met
Turkey’s most respected food writer unites cuisine and poetry
by Marcello Di Cintio photography by Lana Šlezi´ c

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evlana, the thirteenth-century lies shrouded in green cloth embroi- instead of the headscarves most wommystic and poet, never knew dered with gold tulips. There is a green en in Konya wear, and it makes her look the taste of a tomato. I know turban on the head of the stone — typical regal. She is royalty, in a way. Nevin is this because Nevin Halıcı told me, and for the graves of Mevlevi Sufis. Nevin one of Turkey’s most respected food these are the sorts of things she knows. tells me that women suffering from writers and a leading authority on tradShe also told me that the sweetest fevers come to pray here sometimes. itional Turkish cuisine. She consults peaches in Turkey grow in Bursa and They hope that “he who plays with fire” with chefs at some of the country’s top that the honey from Kars is particularly can coax their own fire away. Most vis- restaurants and hotels, holds a Ph.D. fine. She told me that mothers in Afyon itors, though, come for the salt. There in food sciences, and has authored used to lull their babies to sleep with is a tray of white salt in the corner of ten books. I first learned of Nevin, and of Ateşpoppy seed paste, that Turks in Konya the mausoleum. The juxtaposition of were drinking coffee three centuries be- the salt and the great chef is a holy one, baz Veli, when I came across Nevin’s fore it arrived in Istanbul, and that the and pilgrims believe that taking a pinch most recent cookbook, Sufi Cuisine. In best yufka bread is so thin you can read from here to their own kitchens will it, Nevin recounts the history of Meva newspaper through it. ensure good health and enhance their lana, known better in the West as Rumi, “Mevlana also never ate peppers,” own cooking. introduces readers to Ateş-baz, and exNevin says from the backseat of her I spoon some of the salt into a bag plains the kitchen rituals of the Mevlevi brother’s car. “Tomatoes and peppers and tuck it into my pocket, then join dervishes. Most of the book, though, were not popular in Anatolia at that Nevin outside the tomb. She is speak- is made up of recipes for dishes mentime.” Nevin’s brother pilots the car ing with the woman who lives in the tioned in Mevlana’s poetry: stewed into Meram, a suburb of Konya, in cen- adjoining house and who is Ateş-baz’s quince, sour spinach, sweet buttery tral Turkey. We follow a dirt road along- caretaker. Nevin asks if she can unlock soup. The result is a remarkable work side a field until we reach the tomb of the tomb’s lower chamber so we can see that is at once a cookbook, a book of anAteş-baz Veli, a Sufi saint and Mevla- the actual ground under which the Sufi cient verse, and a treatise on the spirina’s beloved chef. chef is buried, but the woman shakes tual importance of food and eating. Nevin eases herself out of the car, her head. “She is old,” Nevin explains, Food was one of Mevlana’s favourite smoothes down her jacket with her “and she can’t find the key.” sources for metaphors. He wrote that his palms, and asks for my camera. “I will On the way back to the centre of life could be summed up in the words take a picture of you beside the famous town, Nevin says, “Konya has produced “I was raw, I was cooked, I was burned.” chef,” she says. I smile, but Nevin has two famous chefs. The first is Ateş-baz. The references to food and drink that trouble with my digital camera, leaning Do you know the other? ” fill his poetry are allusions to higher, I look back at her. She is smiling. “Is more philosophical ideals. Those who too far back to see the viewscreen, the it you? ” I ask. same way my mother does. have not yet turned toward God are We climb the stone steps of the mauNevin tilts her head back to laugh, unripe fruit. A man aroused by faith soleum. “The bricks are the colour of and sunlight flashes from a chip in her is a chickpea dancing in a boiling pot fire,” Nevin says. “ ‘Ateş-baz Veli’ means bifocals. “You are correct! It makes me or a fish flipping in a pan. God’s grace ‘he who plays with fire.’ ” I follow her happy that you say that!” is sweet almond helva. For Mevlana, for inside the chamber, where a gravestone Nevin wears a tight, neat turban the dervishes that follow his path and,

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indeed, for Nevin, the language of food is the language of faith. Eventually your beloved becomes your bread and your water, your lighting candle and your beauty, your meze and your wine. told the maitre’d at Kösk Konya Mutfagı I was there to meet Nevin Halıcı. He led me to a second-floor dining room with a wood-planked roof and tables laid out with gold linen. Nevin was waiting for me with her brother and two sisters. She stood to shake my hand and invited me to sit. “I will put you on a program to learn about the food of Konya. Tonight we will have Konya ‘home food,’ ” she said, and signalled for the waiter that we were ready to eat. The meal began with a typical Turkish salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions alongside paper-thin yufka bread. Then came a bowl of mantı, a sort of Turkish ravioli made of pasta so delicate it could hardly contain the lumps of ground meat. This was sprinkled with dried mint and drizzled with yogourt and burnt butter. I told Nevin it was the best mantı I’d ever had. She nodded. “That is because a woman cooked it. Women cook from their heart.” A dish of sweet white onions stewed in pomegranate syrup came next, then a bowl of creamy yogourt. Grilled lamb cubes on puréed eggplant, tomato, and green pepper followed. By the time dessert came, a helva made with fresh cream, I could hardly eat anymore. Nevin pushed the plate of helva toward me. “You are young,” she said. “You can eat.” Because I am Canadian, Nevin told me about her childhood dream of visiting Niagara Falls, but mostly we talked about food. She told me about her favourite restaurants in Istanbul, like Hacı Abdullah, whose chefs have a hundred Ottoman-era recipes in their arsenal. When I showed her a picture of my wife, she said, “You are lucky to have such a beautiful wife. You should wake up each morning and make her breakfast.” For Nevin, cooking is the essential expression of love. Nevin had the army of blue-shirted young waiters at her command; they sprang to our table whenever she glanced

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76 Madrona Dr. Galiano Island British Columbia Canada V0N 1P0 (250) 539-3340

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up at them. The boys relayed her instructions to the kitchen, brought a little more of whatever Nevin asked for, and cleared away the plates and silverware between each course. I was relieved when one of the servers came to take away our helva — I had eaten far too much — but then the man returned bearing a bowl of tart tomato soup with dried okra. “Something sour should always follow something sweet,” Nevin explained. “It helps get you ready for the next menu.” Apparently we were not done. Once we finished the soup, our waiter set down a platter of grape leaves stuffed with minced meat and rice. Called sarma, they were much shorter than the stuffed grape leaves I’d had elsewhere. Nevin told me of an archaic belief that a woman who makes her sarma too long is not virtuous. “If a woman makes her sarma longer than the tip of her finger, her husband can send her back to her father’s house.” Then we had a second dessert of flaky Konya-style baklava. The arrival of Turkish coffee signalled that the meal was finally, mercifully, finished. The sequence of courses — savoury dishes followed by something sweet, something sour, then another series of savouries — was a typical Konya banquet menu. The whole process could be repeated up to six times. I assumed that such banquets were reserved only for grand occasions such as weddings, but Nevin shook her head. “Just receiving a guest is special occasion enough. “There is another tradition. A host must give her guest a gift at the end of a meal. It is for ‘tooth rent.’ I borrowed your teeth to eat this meal so I must pay rent.” She pulled a carved wooden spoon from her purse and handed it to me. “In Ottoman times, they used to put a golden chickpea in the pilaf. You only get a spoon.” She laughed. Only my offer to pay for the meal chased away her smile. She would not accept a dime. Enough, be silent, words cannot take the place of opinions, as pomegranates and apples cannot take the place of plums. 

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F

iltered sunlight drifts through the skylights of the covered market. Below, women lift white grapes from

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wooden crates, crouch over plastic tubs of tiny cucumbers, and scoop crimson tomato paste into clear plastic bags. Strings of dried eggplants and red peppers hang over shop doorways, ready to be rehydrated and stuffed with rice and mince. Garlands of tiny dried okra seem suited to drape on a Christmas tree. Lemon slices and slender green chilies decorate vats of wrinkled black olives. There are mounds of green and black figs. Fruit vendors split open yellow-skinned plums to show the pink flesh inside. Nevin’s brother dropped us at the Kadınlar Pazarı, formerly the Ladies’ Market, where Konya women used to sell the produce from their home gardens. Larger producers dominate the market these days, and the vendors are mostly men. Still, this is Nevin’s favourite place to shop in Konya. She is a celebrity here. The merchants fall over themselves to offer us tart pickles and slices of dried beef pastırma. They wave at her to come and try their cheese. One man gives us a handful of peanuts as if we’d never seen such things before. I follow Nevin to her favourite cheese vendor. The shopkeeper invites me to dip my bare fingers into a ceramic vat of soft cheese. I scoop out a tiny smear on my fingernail, but the man is not satisfied until I sink two fingers into the cheese down to my second knuckle, and lift a great glob into my mouth. Next, at his urging, I dip my fingers into a vat of whipped butter, then break off a chunk of crumbly cheese that is furry with black-blue mould. I spot tulum, my favourite Turkish cheese, still robed in the goat skins in which it cures. The hairy masses sit in glassfronted cases under anemic fluorescent light, like freakish exhibits in a sideshow museum. In a nearby shop, a display case holds a heap of severed sheep heads, still bloody, destined for soup cauldrons. Nevin pauses and points at the gory pile. “All of this would be gone if we joined Europe,” she sighs, speaking of the strict regulations that will come into force if Turkey ever completes its marathon to European Union membership. “It is not fair. They eat haggis in Britain. Why can’t we eat these?” She shakes her head, and I wonder what

the European health officials would think of my licked-finger sampling at the cheese shop. Almond helva fashioned from His walnuts, His almonds, His sugar, does not only sweeten my palate, but floods my vision with light.

A

fterwards, Nevin and I make our way to Cemo Restaurant for etliekmek, another Konya specialty. Inside, a trio of chefs stand guard in front of a wood-burning oven. Their oddly feminine red-and-pink aprons seem at odds with their identical moustaches. Nevin waves at them — she knows them all — and they nod respectfully back at her. The proprietor rushes over to greet Nevin and leads us to a table. Nevin insists I take a chair facing the oven and places an order. I stretch my neck to watch as the bakers roll out lengths of dough, spread them with toppings, then slide them into the oven next to a heap of roasting green chilies. Our first dish arrives in minutes: a slab of thin and crispy bread dough, shining with melted butter, and longer than my arm. It is covered with seasoned minced lamb and a smear of tomatoes. The waiter brings us a plate of fresh parsley, sliced tomatoes, lemon wedges, onions dusted with sumac, and some of those scorched chilies. Nevin shows me how to roll the fresh toppings into the steaming dough, squirt with lemon, and eat with my hands. My fingertips become black from the charred dough and greasy from the butter. A waiter drops another arm’s length of freshly baked bread; this one is covered with cheese. We are barely through it when a third arrives with just minced meat. Then a fourth with larger cubes of chewy, aromatic lamb. The waiter calls this last dish mevlana pide, and Nevin wags her finger at him. “It is not mevlana pide. There is no such thing. It is called Konya böregi.” The server nods an apology and backs away from the table. Nevin tells me she abhors how Mevlana’s name is exploited to appeal to the tourists who come to Konya to visit his tomb. “There is a foundation in Konya that wants to

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change this. It is not good that his name is on everything. Travel agencies. Car repair shops. Beauty salons. It shows no respect.” I hold up the last piece of Konya böregi. “But wasn’t this Mevlana’s favourite food?” I joke. Now I get the finger wag. “No. His favourite food was helva. Almond helva.” Nevin grins. It makes her happy that she knows such things. Having tried all the variations of etliekmek on Cemo’s menu, it is time to go. The gluttony has rendered me nearly immobile, but I lug myself out of my chair and follow Nevin into the parking lot. “The day after tomorrow you will come to my house for breakfast,” she says. (I love how invitations in the Middle East are so often expressed as prophesies.) “I will prepare for you dishes from all seven regions of Turkey. But tomorrow you will go out on your own. You will find firin kebab. It is another specialty of Konya. Be sure to eat with your hands; you will fly. And, of course, you will go to Mevlana’s tomb.” That unparalleled beauty has taken possession of my heart’s kitchen with all its title deeds; and is smashing my pots, pans, plates, platters to pieces.

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te -baz Veli was embarrassed that he’d burned his toe. It wasn’t the burn itself that bothered him. After all, you could expect a chef, especially “one who plays with fire,” to earn the occasional blister. And it wasn’t the unlikely location of the burn that fazed him. It was the fact that his burned toe was evidence of a brief lapse of faith. Earlier that day, Ateş-baz complained to Mevlana, his friend and master, that there was no wood left to fuel the stove. Mevlana told the chef to place his feet below the stove. When Ateş-baz did this, a flame burst from his toes and set the pot boiling, but because he had doubts about this strange miracle, his left big toe burned. Mevlana heard about Ateş-baz’s injury and scolded his apparent lack of conviction. Ateşbaz tried to hide his scorched left digit by covering it with his right foot. Since that day, when Mevlevi der-

vishes engage in the centuries-old whirling ritual for which they are famous, they begin by placing their right big toe over their left. This is a reminder of Ateş-baz Veli and that odd day in the kitchen. I obeyed Nevin’s instructions and made my way to Mevlana’s tomb. The shrine is part of a grand museum complex built out of a thirteenth-century dervish lodge, or tariqat. I paid my admission fee, plucked plastic shower caps from a bin in front of the entrance to the shrine, stretched them over my shoes, and entered the complex where the great poet tries to rest amid the camera flashes. Mevlana’s gravestone is enormous and topped with two green turbans. Pillars rise above him to support a dome made of carved and painted wood. Every surface of the shrine is softly lit and adorned with verses of his poetry written in gold. I spent only a moment there among the throngs — the schoolchildren, the quietly praying Turks, and the Western New Agers who’ve adopted Mevlevi Sufism as the next fashionable mysticism — before leaving the shrine for another sort of pilgrimage. I found the ancient dervish kitchen in a different part of the museum. For Mevlevi Sufis, the kitchen was a sacred place and heart of the tariqat. Here, everyday labours were elevated to a sort of meditation. The operation of the kitchen was divided into eighteen precise duties, which were assigned to individual acolytes. The Master of the Cupboard was in charge of cleaning the cupboards and maintaining the utensils within. This was his only job. The Coffee Grinder only ground coffee. The Purchaser of Provisions did the daily shopping. He hung a symbolic set of tongs, called pazarci tongs, from his belt. The tongs identified him as a Mevlevi Sufi to the market vendors and they would, in theory, sell him goods at a lower price. Everyone laboured under the supervision of the Chief of the Kitchen and Master of Ceremonies, the spiritual descendant of Ateş-baz Veli. Aspirants to the Mevlevi order would begin their Sufi training in a small alcove, called a saka postu, on the left side of the kitchen’s entrance. They would sit there for three days in silence and

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observe the work of the dervishes. ( The saka postu in the museum’s kitchen is still intact and occupied by a kneeling mannequin.) After his three days of observation, the dervish-to-be had to run errands for eighteen days before beginning his formal apprenticeship under the Keeper of the Cauldron, the kitchen’s second-in-command. This period of repetitive labour and intense scrutiny would last 1,001 days. If an aspirant survived the ordeal and showed the sort of patience and endurance required of a Mevlevi dervish, he would then become a member of the order. I thought of Ateş-baz Veli’s toe as I stood in the doorway of his kitchen. I didn’t know for certain whether this was the original kitchen where Ateş baz worked, or whether the stone stove in the corner was once lit with the great chef ’s flaming feet, but I decided to believe that it was. That is the pilgrim’s prerogative. What a kiss, what a kiss, neither helva nor samsa baklava are as sweet; it even drew milk gushing from a stone; dig not, for the spade has not the power for that.

a half-dozen kinds of cheese, sausages, fresh herbs, and a dish of mountain butter. “It is a little salty,” she says of the butter. “Have it with my rose-petal jam. It is Mevlana’s rose-petal jam.” After breakfast, we relax in her living room with tiny cups of Turkish coffee. I mention that I visited Mevlana’s tomb yesterday, and Nevin tells me that before the tariqats closed in the 1920s, the dervishes used to give out food to the community. “It wasn’t just for the poor. It was for everybody. People would come to take it because it came from a special place. Mothers thought the food would give their children intelligence because it came from Mevlana.” The practice ended before Nevin was born, but her

parents and older brother ate food from the tariqat. “Because my mother ate, it came to me, and that is why I am so good now,” Nevin says, laughing. We finish our coffee, licking away the fine grounds that stain our lips, and drive back out to Meram and Ateş-baz Veli’s mausoleum. She enters the chamber to say a prayer, just as she did a few days before. She tells me that she visits Ateş-baz all the time. I ask her what the place means to her. She glances up at the red stones. “I feel so much I cannot say.” Tears rise in her eyes. “I feel he gives his hand to me.” A — Visit walrusmagazine.com/more to get a few of Nevin Halıcı’s recipes.

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n Ateş-baz’s day, a visitor wouldn’t have dared to enter such holy environs without an invitation. The kitchen had a soul that shouldn’t be disturbed. Nevin is much more welcoming. The next morning, when I visit her, the soul of her kitchen smells of melted butter. She is making mirtoga. I watch as Nevin rotates a wooden spoon in a pan with flour and butter. “You stir until it becomes pink,” she says. “Then you add the eggs.” She tips in a bowl of eggs with brilliant yellow yolks and stirs until they set. “Now we can have our breakfast.” Nevin, who is wearing a dressing gown and furry white moccasins, brings the mirtoga into the dining room. The table has already been set with dishes from all around Turkey. There are olives from Antaky, shining with pomegranate syrup. Hazelnuts from the Black Sea and poppy seed paste from the Aegean. The mirtoga is a common breakfast dish in eastern Turkey, Nevin says, and she urges me to drizzle my portion with Toros mountain honey. There are also

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literature

I n Par i s w ith Mav i s Ga l la n t, Wr iter
Canada’s great exiled storyteller defies categories and remains an enigma
by Randy Boyagoda photography by John Reeves

“M

excuser, monsieur. Je cherche des livres par Mavis Gallant. Où peux-je les trouver? ” I asked the bookseller my question and then braced for his answer. This was an upmarket bookstore in Montparnasse, after all, and I was fumbling at the counter with Ontario schoolboy French. If my prior encounters in Paris were a reliable guide, my effort would be met with a practised combination of annoyance, pity, amusement, and withering contempt. But this time proved different. The bookseller ignored how rudely I had chewed through his native tongue. “Pardon. Je sais que nous devons avoir ses livres, mais nous ne les avons pas,” he said in a sheepish, apologetic way, as if he were acknowledging a failure of literary responsibility. He knew he ought to have Mavis Gallant’s books on offer, but he didn’t. I would expect an exchange like this in a Canadian bookstore, but it was surprising here, in Paris, in Gallant’s own neighbourhood, in a city she’s been living in for some five decades. I was about to meet her at a restaurant across the street and had ducked into the bookstore, curious to see where, not if, Gallant was placed on the shelves. She had chosen the restaurant and agreed to a conversation on a Sunday afternoon this past October through a correspondence that had stretched over a year. Though eighty-four, frail by her own admission, and exhausted from participating in two recently filmed documentaries about her life and work, she eventually agreed to my request.

The Parisian bookseller’s response was a familiar one. People don’t read Mavis Gallant so much as know they ought to. In preparing for the interview, I canvassed well-read friends, academic colleagues, editors, and fellow writers about their responses to her work. Her name elicited high regard in both Canadian and American settings. But across the board, there was comparatively little in the way of particulars. “I love ‘The Ice Wagon Going Down the Street.’ It was in an anthology. I really should read more of her stuff.” “I enjoy her stories. They used to come in the New Yorker all the time, years ago. But I never knew what to make of them by the end.” “Gallant? Oh yes, she’s one of those writer’s writers . . .” The last of these responses is perhaps the most telling in terms of Gallant’s standing in the contemporary literary world. At a November 2006 event held in her honour in New York, Russell Banks, Michael Ondaatje, and Jhumpa Lahiri lined up to offer high-minded appreciations. Their speeches were uniformly glowing, but gave off a proprietary admiration — fellow members of the guild paying respects to one of their betters. A writer’s writer — the phrase implies that only someone intimate with the art can discern the full extent of the brilliance at play. With a readership perhaps better understood in terms of quality rather than quantity, one wonders if the effect of Gallant winning so much esoteric praise has been, in part, to close her writing off from a wider readership.

I

n the Canadian context, at first glance it’s not the difficulty of reading Gallant so much as the difficulty of locating her that has denied her a native audience commensurate with her international standing. In fact, we’ve devised a deviously effective storyline to make sense of this writer, a storyline that gives Gallant her due and also gives us a reason to avoid reading her. Born in Montreal in 1922, Gallant had a peripatetic childhood, marked by time in both Canada and the United States. As a young woman, she gave up a career in journalism with the Montreal Standard and moved to Europe in 1950, submitting three short stories to the New Yorker with the idea that if she were to find success with this first set of submissions, she’d commit to writing for good. She met with immediate success, and through her recurrent appearances in the New Yorker and from the short story collections that were thereby assembled, Gallant developed an impressive position in international circles. She was, however, little known or read in her native Canada before the late 1970s, when Macmillan of Canada and then McClelland and Stewart started publishing her work. She won a Governor General’s Award in 1981, and thereafter received a series of awards and honorary doctorates. Her early story collections were reissued with admiring introductions and afterwords by Ondaatje, Banks, and Mordecai Richler. And yet, Gallant has never enjoyed a standing in Canada comparable with

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the writer who shares her native ori- to the theme. She recalled a 2002 trip to gins, chosen genre, and international Montreal — “her native city” as she said renown — Alice Munro. The reason is with fondness. But this was a trip made ostensibly geographic: Munro’s life and in ambivalence because her physical work represent an emphatic and sym- mobility was limited; she went with the pathetic commitment to verifiably Can- knowledge that she’d “never see the adian concerns and settings, whereas city again.” Gallant didn’t linger in the Gallant comes across, in personality and elegiac for very long when discussing sensibility, as detached. As such, she her time in Montreal, or on any other can only command so much attention matter. That’s because her personal from a literary culture obsessed with feelings and geographies aren’t nearly national textures, which often frame as important to her as her vocation. the reading of native writers as a good Asked about how she’d like to be read citizen’s patriotic duty. and remembered, she answered, “GalLeaving aside the politics of who and lant, writer.” We could describe her why Canada reads, Gallant can be a very with any number of adjectives — the difficult writer to encounter. There are Paris-based-expatriate-Quebecer-anglodemanding moments in Munro’s fic- phone - Canadian - Protestant - female tion, to be sure, but these are mostly short - story-writer Mavis Gallant. But borne of the intensities of emotion and doing so ignores Gallant’s primary amepiphanic insights that come of her bition, and the degree to which she has genius for detailing the complex inner achieved it, in becoming simply, formidlives of ordinary people. Ultimately, ably, a writer. though, Munro’s are comforting ficIn a preface to her 1996 collected tions: the governing sensibility of her works, currently out of print in North short stories is wise, melancholic, and America, Gallant describes literature’s compassionate. Gallant, on the other purpose as evoking “a climate of the hand, forces us to confront sterility, dis- mind.” Like much (and there’s not much) placement, and alienation in her stor- of what Gallant has said when asked ies, often without a final resolution of to comment on what she does, the dethe human difficulties therein revealed. scription is terse and opaque. But then, She brings a cold voice and a hard eye her stories speak for themselves, doing to bear on the world, and has created exactly what they’re supposed to witha body of work that reads as a basic out need of authorial clarifications and rejection of the Canadian literary com- embellishments. Consider, for instance, mitment to imagining the humble vir- this passage from “Between Zero and tues and humbling vices of modest One” (1975), one of Gallant’s Linnet Muir local lives. series of stories on a young woman’s time in a bygone Montreal:

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There was also a joint past that lay all around us in heaps of charred stone. The streets still smelled of terror and ashes, particularly after rain. Every stone held down a ghost or a frozen life, or a dreadful secret. — “An Alien Flower” (1972)

D

uring our conversation, at a grand old restaurant where Paris families were stretching their languorous Sunday brunches into afternoon coffees, it was clear that Gallant had little interest in addressing her relationship to Canada and Canadian writing. She treated my questions on this subject like houseflies and was palpably interested in moving on to other things. There was only one moment where she warmed

I remember a day of dark spring snowstorms, ourselves reflected on the black windows, the pools of warm light here and there, the green-shaded lamps, the dramatic hiss and gurgle of the radiators that always sounded like the background to some emotional outburst, the sudden slackening at the end of the afternoon when every molecule of oxygen in the room had turned into poison.

The intensity and beauty of this passage come not just from its choice and expression of detail, but from the evenness of tone Gallant achieves while building to its startling last word, which gathers unto itself the unsettling implications of the preceding parts of the

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sentence. This evokes an office setting in World War II-era Montreal, or, more precisely, a climate of the mind borne of the smallish, bitter lives that come together and break apart in that office over the course of the story. Measuring the passage’s veracity by the historical record, or determining how much of the narrator’s experiences are variations on the author’s time in Montreal as a journalist with the Standard in the 1940s, is much like uncovering which Mississippi streets and Civil War sites Faulkner knew firsthand. The result may be a frisson of local pride, but this is a distraction when approaching a great writer. The prospect of such a reading experience is made all the more enticing in Gallant’s case because of her chosen form: the short story. In her handling, the short story works up intensely concentrated encounters between people, around which move whole constellations of discreet meanings. To engage such art requires a commitment of intellect and imagination capable of meeting and withstanding Gallant’s vision of the world: a sometimes fatalistic, sometimes sympathetic regard for the all-too-human longings and occasionally funny cruelties that people visit upon each other. And this is a regard that proceeds from an unflinching commitment to revelation for its own sake. Gallant takes offence at efforts by others to undermine that commitment by attaching it to secondary interests. She once dismissed academic commentaries, in a piece reprinted in Paris Notebooks, her collected non-fiction, as “the fleas of literature.” Reminded of this dismissal, she was immediately amused. “Did I? ” she said with a smile, her eyebrows turned up. “Well I believe it, because I’m apt to say things are ‘the fleas of.’ ” The self-effacement quickly gave way to stronger feelings. “I’ll tell you what my thing is with academics,” she continued in a harder tone. “They take something that is complete, say a story, that is not material to work with — it’s complete; it is to the writer anyway — and they take it as crude ore that they’re taking out of the ground, to suit some purpose of their own, and I find this outrageous.” We’d met in front of La Coupole, a

Montparnasse institution that, in earlier days, “was as dim as a night train and served terrible food,” where “out-oftown diners used to search for a glimpse of Sartre or Beckett and try to make out if the forks were clean.” The description comes from one of Gallant’s Henri Grippes stories, which concern a congenitally unlikable, comedic character whom the author gleefully described, in an aside, as “absolutely awful.” La Coupole has changed; it’s a clean, welllighted place now, its bohemian history homogenized by guidebooks into a literary tourist’s stop. Gallant was grateful for assistance out of her taxi; candid about the inevitable weakening of her constitution, she was nevertheless lively and canny throughout our conversation, ignoring respectful queries about whether it was getting late and dismissing the tape recorder when the cassettes stopped.

H

elping an elegantly dressed old woman out of her cab soon gave way to working hard to keep up with the pace and range of her conversation. We sat and talked for some two hours, and Gallant would often answer a straightforward question with a narrative that moved across personal, historical, and geographic terrains. Asked, for instance, to distinguish between Catholic culture in Quebec and France, she replied, “It depends which period you’re talking about. If it’s now, in Quebec, it barely exists, it’s much more liberal. But then . . . ” She trailed away for a moment, then explained her point via story and image. “I lived two years in Spain, under Franco, and there were things allowed in a couple of bookstores that wouldn’t have been allowed in Quebec. There was Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution, in two volumes in English, which you could find there.” This digression held much in the way of answering my question, but mention of her time in Spain sent her into another recollection. “I remember being twice in a bus in Madrid and seeing, one, a Scotsman in a kilt, walking along a street looking in windows, and followed by boys who thought this was hilarious.” Again she paused for a moment, but then offered her second

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strange sighting on a bus in Madrid. “The other was a woman in slacks, in 1952.” Here she leaned in a little, to underscore the comparative absurdity of this finding. “The people in the bus got up and came over to my side and were talking about the mujer in pantalones. Well, in Quebec, if it had been a mujer in shorts, there would have been a cop called, right away. But that’s so long ago.” Gallant enjoyed clarifying her point about religion in France, where the Church “is smaller now” and the second religion is Islam. “It’s Catholic, Muslim, Jewish,” she said, then broke into a highpitched voice while making a falling gesture with her hands, “and way down there, a few Protestants, poor little things, an endangered species.” While the Church may be in decline in France, its presence is inherently part of the life of the nation: “But it’s a culture,” Gallant explained, “that’s it.” She made several points in this concise, emphatic way. There was much matter behind any one instance, but there’s no time for clarification; she assumes you’re with her and moves on. “One of the things I’ve always noticed in France: that they use Christian and Catholic to mean the same thing. I remember a woman once saying to me, ‘Although I am a Christian, I have nothing against Jews or Protestants.’ ” The genial satire on display here gave way to a sharper sort of humour on other topics. She was (correctly, it turns out) dubious about the odds of Ségolène Royal becoming France’s first woman president, because while “women have rights in France, still the men have an attitude” — one that she demonstrated, wordlessly, by pulling her face into a Gaullic male grimace at the notion of a woman assuming the country’s highest office. As for the 1968 Generation, now the establishment in France, she was particularly lethal in her assessment of the Socialists: “These are people who have ideas but have never had to wait for a bus.” She was equally efficient with writers whom she holds in low regard. “He’s basically bourgeois,” she said, dismissing the controversial Michel Houellebecq. When queried about her feelings toward the New Yorker, she was initially even shorter. “I pass,” she said coolly.

But then she opened up to the question about the magazine where her writing has appeared almost exclusively for her entire career. “When I placed my first story, it was still Harold Ross, the founder. I never met him, he died a year later. And then came [William] Shawn, and then came [Robert] Gottlieb, then came . . . Lady Godiva, who came and went.” She laughed, enjoying this particular description of the controversial editorship of Tina Brown. She spoke well of the current editor, David Remnick: “A very good journalist. The magazine shows that, it’s journalism with a slot for fiction.” Describing the latest formulation of the New Yorker this way brought Gallant nearer to an understandable lament. The magazine used to feature two stories per issue, she explained. She said this wistfully, but my attempt at a sympathetic response put a stop to that. Her voice cooled once more and then became emphatic. “There’s no point — when it’s changed, it’s changed. And apart from deploring it, you think, ‘Well maybe I’m immune to change,’ and I don’t want to become that way, but after all I’m eighty-four. I have to keep that in mind.” She served notice that she’s “not like that about other things,” then abandoned the whole matter. “I think I should just shut up.” Don’t forget me, Grippes silently prayed, standing at the periodicals table in La Hune, the Left Bank bookstore, looking for his own name in those quarterlies no one ever took home. Don’t praise me. Praise is weak stuff. Praise me after I’m dead. — “Grippes and Poche” (1982)

H

arsh here, as she was elsewhere on other matters, Gallant was liveliest when she interrupted herself with an excited “Oh!” in the midst of answering a formal question. In one instance, when discussing the status of Arab intellectuals within the ranks of Paris’s chattering classes, she recalled a story that she much preferred to tell. She described a Christmastime ride taken with a Muslim cab driver, when returning home after a late evening with friends. After Gallant passed on to the driver a gift of chocolates she’d received, the

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“I

two struck up an animated conversa- endings of her strongest stories feature tion on an array of subjects, ranging a distancing from the prior intimacy from diabetes, marriage, and children, that has developed between reader and to prayer schedules, divine inspiration, character. “Some summer or another and writing. While she told the story, I would always be walking on her grave” found myself presuming each turn had is a strangely worded, estranging close reached the insight of the story, only to to “In the Tunnel,” resolving very litfollow her to another turn, and another, tle for us; the core meaning remains and still another. The telling ended not within the character herself. Here, and with a sage statement on religion, or on at the end of many other of her stories — Paris’s new immigrants, or pluralism “When We Were Nearly Young” (1960), in action, but on a light and devious “The Pegnitz Junction” (1973), “The Four note, with Gallant tricking the cabbie Seasons” (1975), and “Scarves, Beads, into letting her pay the fare after he in- Sandals” (1995) come to mind — Galsisted that their conversation was pay- lant invests her characters with the digment enough. nity of independence, in thought and It was inevitable, while Gallant sat emotion, to keep doing as they see fit, across from me and told that tale and however blinkered they may be. Galothers, that I would try to discern in lant’s opaque endings free her characthem some form of symmetry with her ters from the tainting designs of anyone stories, but I also knew that this was a positioned outside the world of the story, fool’s game. Gallant’s fictions are intri- whether author, reader, reviewer, or footcate and precise creations. As she said, noting academic flea. At the end of the “I will rewrite a whole page for a sen- very best of her stories, I leave with the tence.” But listening to her recount her impression that I’ve been taken as close exchange with a cab driver, as when I to the truth of a human life as I can be was listening to her story of the kilted by a work of literature. But equally, GalScotsman in Madrid, put me in mind of lant reveals the greater depths of that a defining feature of her short stories, truth, which she refuses to collapse into one that makes them such a draw on the more easily exposed meanings that harreader’s imagination and intellect: their monize with impressive theories and ability to work up a compelling situation cultural patriotisms, meanings that can and dwell patiently and economically in be contained within the soothing symits intersecting complications, gradually metries, ironies, and reversals that we coming to a culminating moment that’s look for in stories. postponed and shifts, however many times, before the story ends with a deft he coffees had cooled, and the tables deflection of our expectations. in La Coupole were emptying, the waiters mostly standing around, waitn the Tunnel” (1971) moves along ing for the evening to start. And I had these lines. It’s the story of a young yet to ask Gallant about her formation woman, Sarah, who pursues an ill-starred as a writer. I had a feeling that she’d summer fling with an older man to prove treat the questions like those houseshe’s not the headstrong danger to her- fly queries about Canada—inevitable, self that her father thinks she is. And so annoying, unwanted. When I did raise it goes: “In love, she had to show her the matter, she invoked the Russians, own face, and speak in a true voice, particularly Chekhov, and also cited and she was visible from all directions.” Hemingway. “He’s taught us all how to Sarah’s story is excruciating because of write dialogue.” As would be expected, the many assumed turns toward less she prefers his short stories to his novels: hopeless conclusions that pass by, but “I read some so often, I almost knew them also because the story manages to be at by heart, like music.” And when we once cruel, funny, and sympathetic. turned, finally, to the matter of her writThis is the difficult pleasure of read- ing, Gallant drew on Hemingway again. ing Gallant. Whereas the best of Munro Her responses were uniformly terse. “I builds to reconfirmation of humanity rewrite a lot, but I don’t change much.” in its daily struggling, Gallant at her “It’s mostly pruning you know.” “Everybest is elliptical and recalcitrant. The thing starts off too long.”

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Perhaps growing anxious at the thought of discussing her work, she offered a casual but conclusive selfreproach, “I’m a traitor to my own cause,” which brought the conversation to its close. Of the few answers Gallant did give about her writing, the most revealing had to do with how she balanced the relationship between depth and concision, so crucial to the short story form. I asked her how she knew when to take and when to give back. “It comes on its own.” There’s word of Gallant publishing the journals she’s kept for years. Biographies and critical studies of all sorts will inevitably be written, but one should be skeptical of how far into, or beyond, these five words such material will go toward making sense of why and how Gallant has accomplished as much as she has. Writers of the highest order cannot explain themselves or be explained to a standard matching their greatness, because in a very real way there’s nothing to explain, including why they left one place to live in another or what they make of the place they left. Their work, if successfully brought off, is a testament unto itself. Everything else, Gallant’s example suggests, should be silence; otherwise the work is overshadowed by the obvious and the incidental. Our discomfort before such reticence may be a sign of our insecurity before a writer whose greatness stands independent of a national culture, a minority position, or a regional tradition. This is someone confident enough of her craft to be known, simply, as Gallant, writer. After the bill was settled, with a doubly amused Gallant negotiating between a fumbling young waiter and me with my credit card and my poor French, I walked her to a cab stand. We strolled up Montparnasse to a busy corner just coming under its first shadows. She considered an invitation to dinner while waiting for a car to come up. She declined and left. — Randy Boyagoda and Walrus arts and literature editor Daniel Baird discuss short fiction and the works of Mavis Gallant, online this month at walrusmagazine.com/ more.

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t h e wa l r u s
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Brainteasers
by Fraser Simpson 1. Bob always takes A minutes and B seconds to make a paper airplane, where A and B are single-digit numbers. In terms of A and B, how long in hours and minutes will it take Bob to make sixty paper airplanes? 2. Change the first letter in each of the following four words to create a phrase describing an uncomfortable person. WISH CUT IF LATER 3. The letters of the word GOVERNESS can be rearranged to spell a typical Canadian Idol performance and one part of that performance. What are these two words? 4. Insert the same four-letter word into each set of blanks to create three fiveletter words that match the definitions. ____E type of tree tree, e.g. item made from a tree

A Little Bit Longer
by Fraser Simpson Some clue answers are a little bit longer than their designated spaces and stick out past the grid’s border by a single letter. The exterior letters, reading clockwise from the top left corner of the grid, spell four related words. Their relationship, which solvers must determine, is appropriate to this puzzle.
across

33 34 35 36

Sticky stuff concerning failings (6) Really likes quarters (4) Strangely, ten deer came in (7) Audibly walk off with brace (5)

____T ____K

down

1 Ray straddles white line in a crude way (5) 6 Stare at front half of boxy summer house (6) 11 Celebrity tellin’ fibs in my ear (4) 12 Mumble “mother” in German (6) 13 Colour a green sign about stumbling block (7,4) 14 Timeless aquatic bird in each lake (7) 15 I invested with fat Scottish landowner (5) 16 Opening statements in reverse order (6) 17 Old aircraft flight path (8) 18 A Kleenex on the table (2,5) 20 Lets out arsenic-laced wine sediment (6) 22 Democrat with ultimatum (6) 24 Shrinking body of water Mr. Gore’s found in vicinity (4,3) 26 Announced Greek goddess led around daughter (8) 27 Promotes Rugrats outside university (5) 29 Mad bee caught by bug killer (5) 31 Crimson bishop drooled nastily (5-3) 32 Found out bar tried to find salt (10)

1 A property claim of a foreign country (5) 2 Wittiest drunk means to fasten a garbage bag (5-3) 3 Unique uprising seizes a pop duo on the run (7) 4 Problem answered, providing Grand Prix site (2,4) 5 Scholarly Reed, first off, accepts ticket (8) 7 Organized pie chart having more inconsistencies (8) 8 Her hunk’s written up books on medicinal plants (7) 9 Nobelist exhibits daggers (5) 10 New and Old Testament vessels go straight through (2,5) 19 Endure as wrecks, like the Titanic (8) 20 Heather goes after boy serving soup (7) 21 Egrets on different hormone (8) 22 Swapping two characters in deed and offering an unpromising future (4-3) 23 Like bishops embracing a headwaiter (6,1) 25 Technology hater identified turning in minstrel’s instrument (7) 27 Liston hacked up something in throat (6) 28 Just know one karate instructor (6) 30 Attend strike (4)

5. Finish this mini-crossword by inserting something that has a point. p i e o n x a c e c l m h u p e d t r e s

6. What title used for a type of ruler could be represented by BUGABOO in a cryptogram?

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T h i n k Ta n k

A Summer Place
by Craig Kasper
across

1 13 17 20 23 27

2

3

4 14

5 15 18 21 24

6

7

8

9 16 19 22

10

11

12

1 5 9 13 15 16 17 18 19 20 23 24 25 26 27 30 32 34 35 39 40 41 44 48 49 51 52 53 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65

Casa ____ (Toronto landmark) ____ II (razor brand) Commedia dell’____ Many residents of 16-Across Favourite bar of bubbly people? Site of Al Jazeera’s headquarters Tendon 2000 summer blockbuster filmed primarily in southern Ontario They may be after the big bucks Niche market’s supplier, often “Thrilla in Manila” fighter Whammy Bricks unit hbo competitor, in TV listings Breathers Tim Horton’s purchase Two-time World Series winner with the Blue Jays Top quality It allows airline passengers to breathe easy Holds up Disgraced televangelist Robert Shoe part City founded by Jesuits in 1554 Paean Keanu’s role in a movie trilogy Fruit-flavoured dairy-beverage brand With “The,” a Prairie capital’s nickname Leaf-eating pest Not fooled by Gartner of the fifth estate Keep away from Internet surfer, e.g. Actor Bana of Munich Repetitive drills Examined, as by a doctor Michelangelo’s David, for one ____ libre (poetry style)

25 29 33 37 40 38 30 31 34

26

28 32 35 36

39 41 48 53 57 60 63 54 58 61 64 42 49 43

44 50 55 59 62 65 51 56

45 52

46

47

down

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brainteasers answers

1. A hours and B minutes. You only need to change the units, because 60 minutes = 1 hour and 60 seconds = 1 minute. 2. fish out of water 3. song and verse 4. Insert plan to make plane, plant, and plank. 5. p o a c h e r i n c l u d e p y r a m i d e x e m p t s

6. empress has the same letter-substitution pattern as bugaboo.

1 Indian Ocean boatsman 2 Camden Yards ballplayer 3 Insect with religiosa in its species name 4 Become an accessory 5 Like Status Indians, for example 6 Do-____ 7 Fail to be 8 Birth control option 9 Puts two and two together? 10 Supports from the bleachers 11 Cologne’s river 12 Softball, in an interview 14 Language of Kenya’s national anthem 21 Board, as an airplane 22 Palindromic Burmese prime minister 28 Brewski from south of the border 29 Exotic wraps 31 Animals 33 Baton-passing event

35 36 37 38 39 42 43 45 46 47 50 54 55

Prepare for digesting? Like some disputed ballots in 2000 Hunch More drenched Filled with hilarity Cover letter abbr. Bird with a showy mate Pulling an all-nighter, say Summit participant Shrek’s Princess Fiona, notably City on Ishikari Bay Having divided loyalties Title woman in a Barenaked Ladies song 56 Ukrainian city near the Polish border
For answers to current and past crossword puzzles, please visit walrusmagazine.com/thinktank.

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