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Canadian author Alice Munro says she never thought she would win the Nobel Prize for literature. (CHRIS YOUNG/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Canadian author Alice Munro says she never thought she would win the Nobel Prize for literature. (CHRIS YOUNG/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

WHAT READERS THINK

Oct. 11: Yay, Alice Munro! – and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Yay, Alice!

Re Canadian Alice Munro Makes History With Nobel Prize Win For Literature (online, Oct. 10): Yay, Alice! Finally.

Kathleen Gallagher Ross, Toronto

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Alice Munro’s Nobel Prize puts all of Canadian literature in the spotlight. But one of the first things I wondered after hearing the news is how much of Alice Munro and her work is being taught in Canadian schools. I suspect not much.

This is no disrespect to Ms. Munro but a call to English teachers everywhere to promote and teach our identity through this country’s superb writers.

J.D.M. Stewart, Toronto

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When I arrived at Oxford as a graduate candidate, I donated a volume of Alice Munro’s short stories to my college library.

The librarian was charming as he thanked me for the book, and said that he had heard of her. As he loved Russian literature, I suggested he would find her clever observations in keeping with astute writers such as Chekhov.

Thanks to the Nobel committee, such explanations will forever be unnecessary.

Belinda Beaton, Oxford, U.K.

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Of prizes literary

Re Strong Contenders On Giller Short List (Oct. 9): Well, I’ve read the list and the best of the lot is not on it. Sorry, but it’s David Gilmour’s Extraordinary, and by a considerable margin.

I suppose that makes me a sexist lout. Such, it would seem, is the current sorry state of debate regarding Canadian literature.

Andrew Milner, Head of English, Lakefield District Secondary School, Selwyn, Ont.

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In the Times Literary Supplement of Sept. 27, 2013, a correspondent wrote, apropos of the Man Booker Prize, that the French may have something to teach us. “Last year’s winner of the Grand Prix du Roman de l’Académie Française is, for the first time in the history of that prize, Swiss. He is only twenty-eight … [He] also won, in 2012, the Prix Goncourt des Lycéens, an offshoot of the famed Prix Goncourt.

“While it is the members of the Académie Goncourt who chose the shortlist, the winner is decided by 2,000 or so sixth-form students who read, discuss and finally vote. The prize is part-sponsored by the French Education Ministry with the express purpose of encouraging reading among the young.”

In the next issue, the winner of the James Tait Black award for biography (there are also prizes for fiction and drama) wrote that the judging was similarly democratic, the winners being chosen by postgraduate students in the English Department of Edinburgh University, together with their tutors and professors.

This is an idea well worth Canadian consideration. It would be interesting to see if younger writers might be turned up, as in France, if the Governor-General’s Awards, for example, were adjudicated on the French system.

Alan Rudrum, professor emeritus of English, Simon Fraser University

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Very confusing

I’m very confused. Didn’t Stephen Harper insist on replacing paintings in the headquarters of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade with a picture of the Queen? Now the Prime Minister will not attend a Commonwealth meeting and may withdraw financial support (This ‘Principle’ Is Naked Self-interest – Oct. 9).

Didn’t he strongly encourage a U.S. company, Verizon, to come in and compete with the Canadian telecoms? Now he says no to a foreign company that wants to do business in Canada by taking over Manitoba Telecom Services’ Allstream division (Three Theories About Why Ottawa Rejected The Bid For Allstream – Report on Business, Oct. 10).

I despair about our international reputation and can only hope that the next prime minister will be able to undo the damage this one is continuing to do.

Kay Gould, Calgary

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$1-billion … plus

Re Power Plants’ Cost Hits $1-billion (Oct. 9): Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne proclaims that she is “a new Premier leading a new government.” Perhaps I missed it, but I don’t think there’s been an election since she became Leader of the Liberal Party. She is leading the same government that cost the taxpayers of Ontario more than $1-billion so that it could try to secure a victory in that election. If she wants to lead a “new” government, she should call an election.

Peter Wilcox, Toronto

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Re Unseemly Haste (editorial, Oct. 9): I have no desire to defend the Ontario government’s decision to cancel the construction of two gas-fired plants which, on the basis of currently available information, was a cynical ploy to safeguard its electoral fortunes.

But to suggest, as your editorial does, that “events outside the control of either party,” such as opposition by the municipality, could be blamed for frustrating “the whole contract” is quite a stretch. Since when does a municipality exercise “force majeure” over a provincial government, whose creature it is?

Tony Manera, Ottawa

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Reading the headline Armed Forces Target Waste, Inefficiency (Oct. 8), I fleetingly imagined their artillery pointed directly at the Ontario Liberal caucus.

Unfortunately, Dalton McGuinty got away.

Robert S. Sciuk, Oshawa, Ont.

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Countdown to 2047

Re Climate Change: Profound Change Predicted For Tropics (Oct. 10): I hate to be a generalist, but it seems that the human race is too dumb to live.

Claudette Claereboudt, Regina

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Re Uncertainty Shouldn’t Mean Inaction (Oct. 7): Consider this scary scenario: Based on climate models that predict the weather by 2050, we’ll enact tax and regulatory policies based on economic models that predict growth rates to 2050 and beyond. That’s piling a lot of risk on two disciplines that can’t predict next week’s weather or next year’s economy.

Philip Beaudoin, Beaverton, Ont.

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314 million served

Re ‘Good Enough’ Doesn’t Cut It When It Comes To Life’s Simple Things (Oct. 8): Marcus Gee seems to have been wearing made-in-America rose-tinted glasses when he penned his gushing report on service and friendliness in the United States.

Personally, it usually feels like a breath of fresh air when returning to Canada from the U.S.

Comparing life in Toronto with that in a handful of smaller, and distinctly un-American and exceptional cities like Austin, Tex., or Portland, Ore. (cities from which we can indeed learn much) is one thing, but let’s not confuse that with some general American superiority.

And let’s not confuse American efficiency in mustering marching bands with something actually useful to society.

Luke Mastin, Toronto

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Marcus Gee’s article about Americans reminds me of the old joke: How many Canadians does it take to screw in a light bulb?

None! They hire an American who knows what he’s doing.

Larry A. Lewis, Toronto

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