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The first book falls: Flannery dishes on Day Three of the debates

Hello, readers and debate followers.

Day three of Canada Reads 2010 debates has come and gone and — spoiler alert! — so has one of our beloved books. If you'd like to see or hear the show before reading this "reveal," you can do so here.

Are you crushed, elated, confused by today's vote? Me too. Now, let's talk about what went down.

The vote

"The suspense is killing I," joked Perdita Felicien at the top of this morning's debate, and I rather agreed with her. An old hand with Canada Reads, Jian has perfected the art of building anticipation and his introduction of the panelists and their books felt especially gripping this morning. Though it was only a few short minutes, fear of the pending announcement made it feel that much longer.

In case you need reminding, here's how the votes split: Roland Pemberton cast his vote against Good to a Fault, Dr. Sam Nutt took out Fall on Your Knees, Perdita Felicien, Michel Vézina and Simi Sara all voted off Generation X. Three votes makes Douglas Coupland's iconic novel the first casualty in the battle for Canada Reads 2010.

Shock, disappointment, curiosity, awe, wonder and surprise — these were just a few of the emotions I read on the faces of fellow colleagues when the vote came down. Roland Pemberton's dismay was palpable. Clad in his Generation X T-shirt, Edmonton's poet laureate acknowledged that his pick wasn't going to be an easy sell, and he called the challenge he'd faced an "uphill battle." Success can be a double-edged sword for an author and his work — it can create as many detractors as it does admirers.

It may be because Roland is such an impressive and articulate advocate for the novel, but I felt a real pang of sympathy for him when the announcement was made. I don't think I was the only one. I'm sure there will be many readers and listeners sending Roland a supportive tweet this afternoon — don't send flowers, send a tweet. Though I'm sad to see Generation X go, I'm very glad that Roland is sticking around. As the rest of the broadcast illustrated, he has a lot to contribute to the discussion.

How Canadian is Canada Reads?

That prickly question of a book's "Canadian-ness" took up most of the panelists' time after Gen X got the bounce. Jian threw out the old red-and-white patriotic bait, asking each panelist whether or not Canadian-ness was a consideration for them and which book had the biggest Canuck spirit. Not everyone thought that was the key question this week, but Nikolski seemed to come out on top as the most obvious contender for All-Canadian status. Jian called it a virtual "map of Canada." But The Jade Peony also got a boost from Sam Nutt, who felt the lives of the Chinese-Canadian characters represented in the book reflected "the quintessential Canadian experience."

What do you make of Michel Vézina's complaint that none of the other books contained a significant mention of the Francophone aspect of Canadian identity? Is he implying that novels should take demography into account? I hope not. Novels written according to the logic of Heritage Canada sound like a complete nightmare to this reader.

The debate over what's "Canadian" and what's not seemed to get under Roland Pemberton's skin a bit: "I feel like the point is changing every day — yesterday it was the best book, today it's the most Canadian," the rapper pointed out. Perdita Felicien's response said it all, really: "It can be all of that." In an ideal world, the winning book is a great work of fiction that resonates with the people reading it. The question for tonight and tomorrow: which book is that going to be?

Only Jian can answer that — he's got the ballots! And we'll find out tomorrow. Before the die is cast, please join our at 3 p.m. ET today to share your reactions. Or put them in writing on our discussion boards.

Until tomorrow,


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