101 letters to a prime minister by yann martel

“People who are too beholden to work become like erasers: as they move forward, they leave in their wake no trace of themselves. And so that has been the point of my fruitless book-gifting to you: to raise my voice against Canada becoming a nation of erasers.” (424)

i may be too wound up to write. i’m actually reminded of my extreme-pressure last-minute university compositions, but in actuality i’m just hopped up on matcha (and three back to back to back 10hr work days) and distracted by all the beyonce videos and the fact that i talked the acc down a hundo/ticket this afternoon and that in the same building, the new raptors are making their debut and we might actually play four full quarters of a game tonight…oh yea, and i’m scrambling on my last hours of computer time until boxing day. let’s go!

i first came across this charming project online years ago, and have had more respect for the reader/author ever since. i mean-it’s yann martel-it’s kinda hard not to love this national treasure. but to embark on this kind of unrequited love, and to document it-damn. i’m a sucker for a book martyr.

“To me, a book is a sustained whisper and it matters not a jot whether that whisper is conveyed by an inexpensive Penguin paperback or an incunabulum.” (300)

“The great thing about reading books is that it makes us better than cats. Cats are said to have nine lives. What is that compared to the girl, boy, man, woman who reads books? A book read is a life added to one’s own. So it only takes nine books to make cats look at you with envy.” (73)

“For two people who are meeting for the first time, there’s nothing like talking about a book that both have read to create common ground and a sense of intimacy, of knowing that other in a small but important way.” (205)

“Now there is the word and there is the world, and the two are enthralled with each other, like two lovers.” (31)

this is why i always ask people what they’re reading at work-it’s personal, but not too personal. i’m not the fucking lancome lady-i’m not trapped there, forced to listen to your problems. but neither do i unload mine on yours. but i will pick your brain about your books-so you best be ready.

i love the discussion here about the value: status ratio of work and pay. it’s so true-doctors and lawyers-the folks that we only hope to see once in a while (or never), we pay and esteem the most. but teachers, social workers, artists, food service? the people we need most and see every freakin’ day? we overwork them and underpay them and add the infuriating extra caveat that they should act like they deserve to be treated like peons because it’s their job. specifically to writers-i love his sentiment that a good writer knows that beauty-full writing can’t substitute for having something to say.

“The best beauty is that in which beauty of form is held up by beauty of content.” (152)

and this is the heart of my preoccupation with the visual album right now. beyonce is the only one who’s ever sold me more as a visual artist than an audio artist-i’m old skool, the radio was all we had. but damn, this woman. it makes sense that i feel her more when i see her concepts, and it works-gets me all giddy and inspired.

“To teach is a magnificent verb, a social verb, implying someone else, whereas the verb to earn, to buy, to want are lonely and hollow.” (124)

and we all have ways of teaching and learning, don’t we?

“Trope was tripe to me.” (91)

i’m glad that yann martel imagined and executed this, but i’m also glad that he kept a record and ended it on a neat bookend. i’m also glad that he finished this before the end of home delivery of mail. here’s hoping that the prime minister actually reads (has read) some of the free books that were lovingly curated for him. elizabeth may asked him when she saw him at the house of commons before the what is stephen harper reading? event and his response was that he had “skimmed a few”.


oh well, you can’t win them all-but we did beat philly tonight!

“Books are patient. They have time. They’ll still be there long after you and I are gone.” (423)



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