Hyped Up

The National Post compiled a list of their top 10 overrated Canadian authors. They are: David Adams Richards, Anne Michaels, John Ralston Saul, Douglas Coupland, Erin Moure, Jane Urquhart, Michael Ondaatje, Joseph Boyden, M.G. Vassanji, and Yann Martel.

You can check out their reasoning for yourself, but looking at this list of authors, they’ve knocked out a lot of the big names in Canadian literature, while managing to squeak in a quick slap on the wrist for Vicent Lam.

Author: James Brotheridge

Contributing Editor with Prairie Dog.

15 thoughts on “Hyped Up”

  1. Didn’t Brigid Brophy co-author, some years ago, a book called “Fifty Works of English and American Literature We Could Do Without”, to the cheers of those who were bored to death with “Moby Dick”, among other canonical works? Same thing here, but somewhat more drastic.

    Mordecai Richler once wrote that he hoped he’d know when he’d published one book too many. Sadly, he didn’t, and that seems to be D.A. Richards’ problem, too: a decline in quality since “For Those Who Hunt the Wounded Down”. Even John Irving eventually realised that he’d mined the combo of wrestling, hotels, Vienna, and bears long enough, and switched gears; perhaps Richards cannot, and that’s tragic for him and his readers.

    If we’re looking for candidates other tahn those above, consider Wayne Johnston, Margaret Atwood, And Marie Claire Blais.

  2. Also, which Richler book was the “one too many”?

    I’m all for irreverence and and honest appraisals, but this is a bratty sensationalism & little more. Will Beattie & Good’s list of underrated CanLit writers generate as much buzz? Unlikely.

  3. Your question re: high school should be directed to Mr. Brotheridge, and perhaps it was. It was his decision to open the ball here, and I assume he wanted comments. I made one.
    “Barney’s Version” was one too many, but “Solomon Gursky Was Here” was pushing it.

  4. As I’m telling my daughter almost daily now… I don’t care who started it.

    Glad to see the National Post isn’t slacking on their mandate to always stick it to the longhaired elitists. Didn’t they run a “Top 10 Overrated Activities” list last year that had “reading” and “journalism” in the top two spots?

    Anyway, Emmet, you’re right, their list of underrated authors won’t get as much play. Which is too bad because such positive statements are the real crucible for critics. Anybody can find an angle to tear down a writer’s career. Saying what you like is the risky activity. If they include even one boring, insipid hack, they run the risk of someone putting out an “Authors Overrated By Those Boors Beattie & Good” list.

    Also, if Lynn Coady doesn’t make their underrated list, I’ll consider it essentially invalid.

  5. 1. Sorry, Barb, the high school slur wasn’t aimed at you, nor at James. Rather, I meant “we” as in the People of Earth. Because the world is High School. Only it never ends.

    2. Hopefully, this list will draw more attention to and discussion of Beattie’s year-old essay “Fuck Books” http://www.notesandqueries.ca/fuck-books/ where he makes a lot of the same points more convincingly and less glibly.

    3. You gotta question the sincerity of people who stand up and demand that we stop talking about these writers about whom they’re about to say some provocative things.

    4. Barney’s Version is the best realization of the themes and ideas that Richler toiled with all of his writing life! It’s very much the end result of having mined & refined the resources of his specific geography so thoroughly. No argument on Gursky as the least of his novels, though.

    5. Lynn Coady? Go on.

  6. Awesome, it’s on my list now. Thanks. I’ll recommend back the probably rated-just-fine Miriam Toews, speaking if contemporary Cdn writers. I’m also eager to read Dianne Warren’s novel of this year.

  7. Lynn Coady made the underrated list, with high praise, and so did Diane Schoemperlen. What the publication of these lists has done is give me and a lot of other readers some new writers to check out, and that can’t be a bad thing.

    Are we ready for a new poll?

  8. Oh god, are we ever. Want to suggest some actual wording? Judging by my inbox traffic, Stephen and co. had a late night (/early morning?) putting out the paper so I’m doubting they’d have juice enough left to write one themselves.

  9. Is there a time limit on new poll wording? Having lost all my tomatoes to late blight, I’m in the process of scrambling to salvage as many potatoes as I can (prognosis not good), so that’s what I’ll be doing for most of today.

  10. Barb: Tomorrow at the earliest, I’m thinking. My guess is, unless Stephen slept on the company couch last night, there’ll be no one from editorial in the office today.

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