Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Best Canadian Essays: It’s back, and it’s about time

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Best Canadian Essays: It’s back, and it’s about time

By Alex Boyd

I trust I’m not the only one who thinks times are strange when news articles are posted online and hundreds of comments trail them, many with poor punctuation and spelling and posted anonymously. Aside from how easily we can post opinions publicly these days, the amount of information out there is staggering.

In this deluge of information, both personal and professional, a great deal can be lost in the shuffle – it becomes critical to take a look at some of the most articulate statements of the year, not to mention writing that’s a joy to read. It took two editors to handle the task of putting together the first Best Canadian Essays in nearly twenty years – I co-edited the book with Montreal writer Carmine Starnino – but we found Canadian articles we’re proud to be able to present. Some are important enough to make me hope every politician buys the book – there are some great pieces on energy needs and the environment – and others take a look at topics as diverse as new attitudes to funerals, the changing world of porn or an analysis of a remarkable woman’s life.

I also happen to think we’re at a turning point in history. Soon enough, people will have found ways to live in peaceful and sustainable ways on this planet, or we may not be around at all. Ronald Wright, in his introduction to What is America puts it this way: “The American dream of new frontiers and endless plenty has seduced the world – even communist China. Yet this seduction has triumphed just as the Columbian Age shows many signs of ending, having exhausted the Earth and aroused appetites it can no longer feed. In short, the future isn’t what it used to be.”

It isn’t that all Americans have wrong-headed ideas about the direction the world should take – Obama has already arranged billions for renewable energy – but if there was ever a time for Canadians to start participating in the global debate on important issues, this is it. Best Canadian Essays has important things to say, even as it’s a celebration of good writing.

Alex Boyd is a Toronto writer. Best Canadian Essays (Tightrope Books) launches November 26 in Toronto. Please see our events page for details.

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