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Another day, another debate: Flannery recaps the second Canada Reads broadcast

What a morning. Day Two of Canada Reads 2010 was a real treat. Perched on my stool in the control room, I was privy to fascinating insights from our panelists concerning all five nominated books. Adding even more drama to the day: the battle lines continue to be drawn when it comes to the very idea of Canada Reads itself. And can we just take a moment to address the cliffhanger at the end of today's broadcast? Time to break down the happenings on Day Two.

If you missed this morning's broadcast, no problem — you can listen or watch here.

Insights aplenty!

I've said it before, but I'll say it again: a good chunk of the appeal of Canada Reads is seeing the books through our panelists' eyes. In round two of the debates, they shared many memorable impressions.

Michel Vézina's take on Nikolski as a novel concerned with "humanity and garbage" managed to both startle and amuse. His simple but vivid observation really brought the book into sharper focus for me.

Roland Pemberton's eloquent and pointed defence of the continuing relevance of Generation X also rang true. To Rollie, the "plight" of Coupland's trio "appeals to anyone who's ever felt like an outsider." Poor Rollie was no doubt feeling a tad disenfranchised during today's debate. Gen X took a real beating!

Simi Sara should get the "best historical context award" for citing the influence of 9/11 in her defence of Good to a Fault. It hadn't occurred to me to draw a line between that real-life event and the soul-searching that characterizes Marina Endicott's 2008 novel, but I can appreciate Simi's observation. I'm impressed with her contemporary relevance strategy, too.

Perdita Felicien is the wild card — she says whatever is on her mind, an openness that provides some pretty funny and frank moments. But she's no slouch when it comes to analysis, either. She swiftly took down criticism of Fall on Your Knees, making it abundantly clear she doesn't consider it a mere historical novel, but an epic featuring universal themes.

Samantha Nutt's declaration that The Jade Peony isn't just a book all Canadians should read, but it's a book they "MUST" read made me chuckle aloud. I think we should speak to Citizenship and Immigration Canada about the possibility of making this official policy in future. With such a figure as Dr. Nutt backing it, I think the idea is a shoo-in for 2011.

What Canada Reads means to our panelists

Is Canada Reads a competition for books published in recent years, or is it a competition for all Canadian works of literature? That's the question that keeps cropping up this year. Today's debate got a little heated on the subject. On the side of new works are Sam Nutt and Simi Sara. Both feel strongly that the exposure Canada Reads offers is best suited to works of fiction that have received little or no fanfare. On the side of "great books" no matter when they were published, are Perdita Felicien, Roland Pemberton and Michel Vézina. They agree that content should be king, and that publishing dates shouldn't be a consideration.

Which side of the divide do you fall on? I'm a little bit Simi Sara and a little bit Perdita Felicien on the topic. Personally, I like the controversy. It makes the debates richer, and frankly, I think Canadians could use a bit of argument with their book chat.

The cliffhanger...

Talk about drama. Today was the first vote for Canada Reads 2010. It was a pretty tense few moments for fans of all five of the books. And Jian's Ryan Seacrest impression after the votes had been tallied actually had me fooled for a heartbeat or two. I honestly thought we were going to hear the big news right then and there!

Which book do you think is going down on Wednesday morning? Will it be Generation X? Good to a Fault? The Jade Peony? Nikolski? Or Fall on Your Knees? Your guess is as good as mine. Either way, it's going to be a real heartbreaker.

Weigh in on today's debate during our live chat at 3 p.m. ET. Or share your thoughts in our discussion blog.

Until tomorrow,

Flannery

 

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