So. Late the other night, replete with good food and good conversation, I drove home from my book club meeting. My headlights piercing the darkness, I watched for black ice created by snow blowing across the open fields, and listened to a wonderful interview with Canadian singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright on CBC radio.
|Moon over Ottawa as seen from our plane as we arrived home from Rome in October.|
At my book club meeting, we’d sipped white wine, eaten take-out Chinese food, and enjoyed a fulsome and satisfying discussion of the book Forgiveness by Mark Sakamoto.
Forgiveness: A Gift from My Grandparents is a memoir/biography written about Sakamoto’s grandparents: Ralph McLean, who left Canada’s Magdalen Islands to fight in World War II, was captured in Hong Kong, and spent five years in a Japanese POW camp; and Mitsue Sakamoto from Vancouver, whose family lost their business, and their home, and, like so many Japanese-Canadians, were sent to internment camps for the duration of the war. Eventually the children of Ralph and Mituse meet and marry, and give birth to the author. Reviewers talk of the book’s ability to capture a difficult time in Canada’s history, one that somewhat belies the myth of our modern, perfectly multicultural society.
|Canada Reads 2018, the five “defenders” holding the book each will defend.|
Forgiveness was the “Canada Reads” winner for 2018. My friends and I all loved the idea of the book, and the story. We’d been convinced to read it partly due to the impassioned defense of the book by fashion-journalist Jeanne Becker. Becker, the child of Holocaust survivors, made a convincing plea on “Canada Reads” that this book about surviving trauma, and moving on, is one all Canadians should read. So we did. But we didn’t universally love the book. I had trouble finishing it. I really wanted to love it, but I didn’t.
What I do love, however, is the whole concept of “Canada Reads,” a kind of literary “Survivor” run by CBC, in which readers from all walks of life (journalists, singers, actors, comedians, scientists) defend a book, and each day of a four day event they vote one book off the show. I listen to it avidly on the radio each year. Last year, I sat in the car sipping my latte, and listening to Jeanne Becker’s defense of the book Forgiveness, waiting for the final vote, and in the process making myself late for my appointment with a designer about our house renos. I should say that the designer was not entirely sanguine about my tardiness despite the very good reason for it.
But back to Friday night. As I said, after our meeting, I drove home listening to CBC radio, to a re-airing of an episode of one of my favourite shows,”Q”, a music and culture program, whose executive producer is, coincidentally, the son of a good friend. Ha. Wheels within wheels, eh? The host was speaking with Canadian singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright about his career, and, in particular, about the opera Hadrian which he composed, and which is being staged this fall in Toronto. I love Rufus Wainwright. In my opinion, he’s a Canadian icon, even if he is a bit young for such an appellation. And he’s the son of another Canadian icon, Kate McGarrigle, of the folk singing duo Kate and Anna McGarrigle. Here’s Wainwright singing at Sting’s 60th birthday concert in 2011.
Then I came upon the video below.
It’s Rufus Wainwright singing that iconic Leonard Cohen song Hallelujah with 1500 members of a group called Choir!Choir!Choir! in the old Hearne generating station as part of Toronto’s 2016 Luminato Festival. Choir!Choir!Choir!, the brainchild of Daveed Goldman and Nobu Adilman, is an open choral group; anyone can attend and is free to join in. Isn’t that cool? You can read what they’re all about here.
I also read this morning that Wainwright, who is gay, had a daughter in 2011 with his long-time friend Lorca Cohen, daughter of Leonard Cohen. The two plan to raise their daughter, Viva Catherine named after Wainwright’s mother Kate, together, along with Wainwright’s husband. Wheels within wheels, within wheels. Maybe I should be playing Kate and Anna McGarrigle’s song, “Heart Like a Wheel?”
But instead I want to leave you with this short and somewhat shaky video that I filmed on our first day in Rome in October. Hubby and I were thrilled to find a little bit of Leonard Cohen, and a little bit of Canada, on a sunny day in Rome.
And… I may be biased… but I think we all need a little more Canada in our lives.
P.S. Apologies to Heather Reisman for (kind of) stealing her line.