Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Holy Terror

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The phrase my mother uses to describe me now has greater relevence; and now you get to choose whether a writer should be active or passive, terrified or a terrorist. It is, I think an important decision.

Since we are meeting post-Halloween and pre-American election, I'm going to take my mask off and recommend a couple of inflammatory books for this anxiety-ridden reading break.

The first one is Dark Days,the story of four Canadians tortured in the name of fighting terror, by Kerry Pither, a human rights activist who does not flinch from the grim reality of rendition.

Hard as it is to believe, our judicial system is now affirming the evidence that CSIS and the RCMP, with full knowledge of the executive branch of our government, allowed the Yankees to send innocent Canadian citizens to Syria to be tortured.

I was raised in a family of lawyers and taught an accused person was innocent until proven guilty. I was also told that it is better to let a guilty man go free than hang an innocent one. Further, my parents taught me that I had been blessed to be born in a country of peacekeepers, who lived by The Golden Rule as opposed to the "shoot first and ask later" diplomacy of our neighbours, who seem to believe God gave us trees for lynching people.

It is clear that of late our government has been walking in lock step with the Bushbureacracy of fear.How did we let this happen? How have we allowed a man like former American Ambassador Paul Celluci, who said while giving a speech in Ottawa this week that an Obama victory would endanger Canada,to interfere with the human rights of our citizenry.

I think Canadians have been asleep, lulled by the elixir of self-satisfaction; and one antidote is to read this remarkable book, which chronicles the best and worst in human nature. The book is, in the end, the love story of man in jail who wouldn't give up and the woman who fought tooth and nail against the politics of fear and won him back.

Monia Mazigh has shaped her own story and the better part of ours, and Kerry Pither has been a courageous witness.

The second recommended book is Halloween candy laced with drugs. The drug is power. Julie Couillard, My Story is the memoir of the inhabitant of that infamous witch "costume with cleavage." Couillard is not quite smart enough to con the reader as she has the con men with power (that would be motorcycles, guns and cabinet posts), but we are enlightened by her flaming broomstick. The portrait she paints of a minister who is all surface and no substance might just make a few Canadians take another look at the government they have just re-elected.

I'm going to vote for literary terrorism. We are the unacknowledged legislators of mankind and, now more than ever, we are necessary in spite of what the Philistine in Ottawa, who does have reason to fear us, is thinking out loud.

I wore my Obama T shirt on Halloween. That's all I ever wear these days.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Linda Rogers

Linda Rogers is the author of the novels Say My Name (Ekstasis Editions, 2000), Friday Water (Cormorant Books, 2003) and The Empress Letters (Cormorant Books, 2007). She has also published several collections of poetry, including Love in the Rainforest (Exile Editions, 1996), Heaven Cake (Sono Nis Press, 1997), The Saning (Sono Nis Press, 1999) and The Bursting Test (Guernica Editions, 2002).

Go to Linda Rogers’s Author Page