The unexpected news that Jian Ghomeshi was fired from the CBC is another example of life being stranger than fiction, yet in this case, it is a work of fiction that is among Mr. Ghomeshi's defences against allegations of sexual violence.
In a Facebook statement in which he details his relationship with an unnamed woman, Mr. Ghomeshi mentions a short story (he does not give the title) from Edmonton author Lynn Coady's 2013 Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning collection Hellgoing as an illustration of his sexual preferences. (Mr. Ghomeshi was host of the Giller Prize telecast for the past three years; on Sunday, it was revealed he will be absent from this year's ceremony.)
"Our relationship was affectionate, casual and passionate," he writes. "We saw each other on and off over the period of a year and began engaging in adventurous forms of sex that included role-play, dominance and submission. We discussed our interests at length before engaging in rough sex [forms of BDSM]. We talked about using safe words and regularly checked in with each other about our comfort levels. She encouraged our role-play and often was the initiator. We joked about our relations being like a mild form of Fifty Shades of Grey or a story from Lynn Coady's Giller-Prize winning book last year."
It is likely that even a casual reader will have heard of Fifty Shades of Grey, E.L. James's novel about a young woman in a relationship infused with bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism (BDSM) with a business tycoon – it has sold more than 60 million copies around the world, and a movie adaptation will be released early in 2015. Hellgoing is another matter, although the story's unforeseen inclusion in l'affaire Ghomeshi seems to be boosting interest in it: On Sunday night, Hellgoing had an Amazon bestsellers rank of No. 13,572; by Monday afternoon, it was hovering around No. 300, although Sarah MacLachlan, president and publisher of House of Anansi Press, Ms. Coady's publisher, said she does not "imagine we'll see a huge lift in sales."
"Maybe we'll see there's a huge uptick," she said. "I don't know. Right now, it looks like it's mostly chatter, but we will see."
So what is the story everyone in Canada will be reading in the coming days about, exactly?
Readers expecting something similar to Fifty Shades of Grey will be disappointed. Set against the backdrop of a destination wedding in Belize, An Otherworld is a rather sweet, sometimes sad and often funny story concerning an about-to-be-married couple, Erin and Sean, and an intelligent, multifaceted portrait of a relationship – one that just happens to involve BDSM. Ms. Coady introduces the couple's love of kink into the narrative without explanation or judgment – she treats it as simply one of several reasons they fell in love. As an engagement present to Erin, Sean constructs a dungeon in their basement, which she dubs "Satan's Workshop," complete with their own "whipping chair" and a pew from a church confessional he has transformed into "a kind of sicko kneeling structure." He's also building a St. Andrew's Cross. (Writes Ms. Coady: "The last time Erin's parents had come to visit, it had taken all weekend to find a hiding place for everything.")
In Ms. Coady's story, BDSM provides both comfort and escape; fed up with the resort, Erin returns to her room for a "quick pre-wedding spanking," telling her husband-to-be, "I need you to spank the weird out of this place for me."
Ms. Coady declined to comment, although on Sunday she tweeted her own statement, of sorts: "I knew jesus was going to punish me for that story."