Penalty Card; Micro-Brood; Game of Stones; the Old Homestead; Delayed Disclosure; Tusk-Tusk
I read every page of The Walrus, and I’ve just gone through “The Game Not Played” (June) twice. I can’t believe its insensitive tone, nor the cover’s negative portrayal of Christine Sinclair. Isn’t it enough that she is Canada’s best athlete? She has to “play the image game,” by securing commercial sponsors and conforming to what Richard Poplak considers hot? A person as talented as Sinclair may decide to achieve in other realms if athletics do not pay off financially. And let’s consider that if she did “play” the image game, it might detract from her sport.
I have not experienced her level of fame, but I have been pursued by journalists. I question the author’s criticism of her for tiring of their interview after ten minutes. Maybe he’s just not a very good interviewer.
I am pleased to have learned more about Christine Sinclair, a young woman who represents the best of what Canada can be. But Richard Poplak’s verbose prose—overloaded with inappropriate adjectives and outlandish comparisons, and larded with self-reference—does her a disservice. His asides about spray tan and Busted Coverage, for example, add nothing to the piece and unnecessarily take up my time; and his frequent complaints about her reticence amount to complaining about his job. If he can’t deal with it, he should learn how or quit.
Moreover, his smug self-satisfaction with his literary skill (the oppressive alliteration of “cranes crowd the arena like browsing brontosauruses”) is pathetic. He should review George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language” if he (or The Walrus) expects me to read anything else with his byline.
I have great respect for Christine Sinclair because she refuses to play “the game.” So many other female athletes lose their credibility as role models by becoming CoverGirls and perpetuating (and peddling) the myth that a woman is less than she can be—regardless of her many achievements—until she has had her hair and makeup done.
Not every woman who objects to being sexualized is a lesbian. If one is, it is irrelevant to what she can and does achieve in life. Give Sinclair the credit she deserves for being an excellent soccer player, and leave it at that.
Game of Stones
Emily Landau fails to mention the Canadian fantasy author Steven Erikson (“Slaying Dragons,” June). His bestselling Malazan Book of the Fallen series turns many of the tropes she laments on their heads. Moreover, her thesis is tautological. She questions the limits that exist within borders she imposed by writing about “high fantasy.” To criticize a genre’s boundaries is akin to complaining that a hockey game is running up against the boards. If she desires fewer tropes, she should look into speculative fiction, or the intersection of high fantasy and speculative fiction.
The Old Homestead
Sure, poets can disregard punctuation—even grammar. But we must take them to task when they abandon simple logic. The larger context of Barbara Nickel’s “Saskatoon to Coaldale, July, Highway” (June) suggests that the farms became more neglected as the speaker traversed the prairie scene. Her words, however, indicate the opposite: “Each farm lay more abandoned than the next…”
Let’s unpack this oft-abused construction. The first farm seems abandoned. The next one looks to be tended by someone who stops by occasionally. The third is obviously inhabited and looked after. They get better and better, and so, along this continuum, we ought to be arriving at the model farm, well tended and inhabited by caring folks.
Since the speaker eventually leads us to a windowless, thin-framed house, she must have meant “Each farm lay more abandoned than the last…” Therein lies the danger of using clichés without thinking about what they might mean.
If authors need to state “In the interest of full disclosure,” editors should require them to do so at the beginning of their articles, rather than half or three-quarters of the way through (“A Feverish Debate,” “The Zen Master,” June). This would signal greater respect for Walrus readers.
Which way is up?
Conor Mihell recounts that former Ontario premier Leslie Frost believed Wawa would become “the Banff of the North” (“Cache-22,” June). It just so happens that Banff sits at latitude 51° north, while Wawa is at 48° north. Thus, Wawa lies about 330 kilometres farther south than Banff.
The June issue incorrectly stated American soccer player Alex Morgan’s first name as Abby. The Walrus regrets the error.
This appeared in the September 2013 issue.