Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Dr. That and the Death of Who

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I have just deleted my extensive collection pertaining to ‘that,’ the usurper. ‘Who’ as a relative pronoun is dead. I’ve been gathering the most egregious examples of its passing for the last few weeks. This morning, however, the ever-fastidious Russell Smith gives ‘that’ his imprimatur in a Globe and Mail column about asking guests to pitch in with dinner. If Smith has gone over, then my list of CBC newswriters, Maclean’s scribes, and scripted politicians is redundant. In the abject spirit of surrender, I quote Mr. Smith: “The separate kitchen is really only useful for those with servants that can cook and bring out food …” I can hear my mother whispering urgently from the celestial wings, “who, who, who, Mr. Smith.” Russell Smith is a brilliant short story writer and, as Inger Ash Wolfe, an intriguing mystery novelist. If ‘that’ is good enough for him, then ‘who’ must be laid to rest with my mother’s other obsessions about the abuses of ‘I’ as an object and the pluralization of ‘there’s.’ Who am I to disagree? Or, should it be, “that’s me who disagrees,” Mom? There’s two choices, eh. And no, it shouldn't be "the Death of Whom" in my title.

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John Moss

John Moss's latest book is Grave Doubts (Dundurn Press). His website is

Go to John Moss’s Author Page