She’ll write things for you, if you like….

I started Box 761 unwittingly. Not without forethought, but with a sense of not knowing (or even caring overmuch) where it was going to go. I just wanted to write about what I was thinking. As a result, I’ve felt free enough to write about anything I want, when I want.

A few days ago I felt like writing about the Canada Reads 2011 “Essential” list. That post got more hits than anything I’ve written to date, and changed this blog into an entirely different proposition for me.

I’m a  “stats watcher”. I like to see how many people read what I’ve written. I understand the urge to look at the stats, and I know it must be akin to what an author feels when they have a book published. It feels good. It feels validating. It feels like what you’ve written matters.

I found that with that single post,  my “readership” went up hugely. . It certainly hit a nerve. When I wrote that post, I didn’t do much except sit down and just write. I was responding to one specific post on a CBC blog. I didn’t research it, or even look around to see who else was writing about it — I just wrote it, and wrote it quickly.  Since then, I’ve read some great blogs about Canada Reads: Stephen W. Beattie’s post Canada Reads loses the plot: updated was especially well-written and germane. I felt compelled to write a comment on his post, largely to speak to an earlier comment from Erin Balser, an Associate Producer of Canada Reads.

She wrote, in part (full comment can be found at the link to Mr. Beattie’s blog, above):

I personally think change is good, and we’ll just have to wait and see if it works. I have faith in the reading public that the list will be reflective of what Canada reads or wants to reads or what they want to see on Canada Reads. And if it’s not, well, Beattie, you’ll have something else to write about.

So, thanks to everyone who has discussed, dissected and destroyed this year’s format. I’m loving every minute of it.

And so is everyone else at the CBC. Really.

I need to point out that the “Really.” tagged onto the end of that line just really gets my goat. Her calling him “Beattie” bothers me. Her obvious glee with the way this is shaping up made me sad. Here is the response I left on that site:

I further add that what I find especially difficult for me to watch is that this new format is pitting authors against authors (not, I might add, book against book — it’s a nuance that’s important to point out).

Erin Balser (producer at CBC) points out the connection to “Survivor” here; I take that further and suggest that it’s a Can-lit “Hunger Games”. Balsor’s comment […] seems to me to be just a little bit dismissive. It makes me think of her and her cohorts rubbing their hands together as they snicker over the hoops they’re causing authors to jump through. This isn’t – not any more — about readers. It’s about which author sings loud enough for their supper.

Having already conceived of and created the supper, it seems really unfair to make them beg for it too.

One nugget of information I did glean from Erin Balser’s comment was that she has a blog, called Books in 140 and A Bunch of Other  Fun Things. Here’s a screen dump from her site. It explains, I think, the mindset behind Canada Reads 2011.


 About Erin  Erin Balser grew up in small-town Nova Scotia and somehow ended up living in the downtown core of Toronto, where she drinks too much coffee, tells people she’s a writer, spends all her free time on the internet and writes a lot. She’ll write things for you, if you like. They’ll be nonsensical and filled with snarktastic comments, but she’ll do it for a very low price.  She’s a whore like that. About Books in 140  Books in 140 started when Erin decided to validate her book buying addiction by writing “reviews.” Except long reviews are hard. And take time. Erin thought she’d solve this problem by writing reviews in 140 characters on twitter. The book buying validation is solved. The review writing is not.  If you want a book to be reviewed, want to submit a guest review, want to be interviewed, or just want to tell Erin how awesome she is, head over to the contact page.  If contact pages aren’t your thing, feel free to email Erin! She hearts emails. Review Policy  I read what I want, when I want and review what I want, when I want. Books in 140 is as much meant to be a representation of my tastes and reading habits as it is a space to discover new books.

she hearts emails


That, my friends, is pretty much my last word on this.

I know that from now on I’ll feel like writing about Canadian fiction much more often than I had before.

4 thoughts on “She’ll write things for you, if you like….

  1. I bet she has advertising allllll over her blog too :/
    I am not a huge fan of blogs with ads and ‘link parties’ LOL

  2. I found your post via Christy Ann Conlin & Carol Bruneau on Facebook. You, and Stephen Beattie, and a few others are saying things that I was thinking, but didn’t want to say because I thought it was unpatriotic to criticize the CBC. But after reading the long piece in the November Walrus about the man who has rendered the Corp a shadow of its former self, I’ve gotten my Irish up a bit. I don’t like the author against author feeling of CR, the onus on encouraging authors to compete against one another to get on this nebulous list…which ought to exclude the more popular, successful authors and those that have already been on this pimpathon. I was irked that they clung to the Giller nominees’ attention to announce the new incarnation of CR, which smacked a little of desperation.

    • Hi Jodi. I don’t think it’s unpatriotic to criticize the CBC. We fund it, after all. The problem, I’m starting to think, is that it’s now in the hands of people who think it’s okay to hire someone to produce CanadaReads who, on the side, thinks it’s okay to write 140 character book reviews because, well, “long reviews are hard”. I’m sure she thinks this is all edgy and “real”, but it’s not. It’s insulting to readers, and to authors. This isn’t a game, no matter how much she wants to think it is.

  3. Pingback: Free lunch, with a side of contempt. | Box761

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