Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015


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Every time I catch, more or less by accident, the TV news, weather, and sports I realize anew that the whole performance is as stylized as a Noh play.

In this drama, the anchors swap old-fashioned conceptions of gender. The woman takes on a man’s gruffness; the man, a woman’s tenderness. Yet the co-anchors are not quite girlfriend and boyfriend, much less man and wife, but are old friends fondly familiar with each other’s foibles.

Both anchors are affected by bipolar disorder. They are grim-faced at bad news (house fire, highway pile-up, corner-store shoot-up, little girl lost), or beam at good news (awards gala, lotto big winner, movie star in town, little girl found unharmed.) Generally, there is more bad news than good news, but the pair always finds time to tease each other.

The anchors are joined in banter by the weatherman or weatherwoman, who is always in a sunny mood. If it is a weatherman, the anchors taunt him about his choice of tie, but he never takes offence. The weatherperson is always pert or chipper, though a cloud may descend if a tornado is depicted or heavy snow predicted.

The reporters in the field—sometimes literally—are sober or gleeful extensions of the news, weather, and sports actors. If they describe a hurricane and are about to be blown off a pier, the anchors laugh at them or else advise them to take care.

The sports guy or sports gal, who sits a little apart, is sometimes a clownish deuteragonist like the weatherperson, and sometimes bipolar like the anchors. The sportsperson grins at wins, and briefly winces at losses.

As an audience member, I don’t know how to respond to a script that wants me to alternately laugh and cry. Win/lose. Hot/cold. Happy/unhappy. If this keeps up, I will end in thinking that the good news is bad, and the bad, good.

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.

Fraser Sutherland

At last count, Fraser Sutherland has published fifteen books: one of them short fiction, four nonfiction and ten poetry, His most recent poetry collection is The Philosophy of As If. A freelance editor, he may be the only Canadian poet who is also a lexicographer. Born and raised in Nova Scotia, he lives in Toronto.

Go to Fraser Sutherland’s Author Page