Yet another busy week has passed.
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that the high point of my week was a review in the Washington Post, which flattered me by declaring that Arms is “entertaining, often funny and ultimately an important addition to the limited canon on guns.”
Maclean’s magazine called the book “a pleasingly acerbic popular history—an equal-opportunity lambasting of everyone from American gun weenies to Canadian cultural nationalists.”
I also wrote a piece for Maclean’s (online only), on why the now-defunct long gun registry, a hot political topic less than a year ago, is suddenly a non-issue on the campaign trail.
I touched on the same theme a couple of days later, talking to Ryan Jesperson on Edmonton’s CHED 630 radio.
And to round things out, I made an appearance on TVO’s The Agenda, to discuss the documentary “Up In Arms,” along with its director, Nadine Pequeneza. You can see that film here, and I recommend it: it’s a balanced and thorough look at a gun lobby most Canadians don’t know exists.
It’s been a busy week, and I haven’t been keeping things up. But since my last post, I’ve been on CBC Windsor’s Afternoon Drive with Bob Steele (no podcast available, sorry), and on CFAX 1070 in Victoria, BC (podcast here, with my part starting at around 36:30).
Also this past week was the Windsor launch for Biblioasis’s fall fiction list, where I filled in for Samuel Archibald (author of the Giller-longlisted Arvida), who was unable to make it. A good time was had by all, etc., with readings from Larry Tremblay (The Orange Grove), Kevin Hardcastle (Debris), and Anakana Schofield (Martin John). At some point in the festivities I seem to have been struck by a large, invisible truck loaded with whiskey, but I’m fully recovered now. No records survive; if you missed it, you missed it.
While in Windsor, I saw for the first time the October issue of Oprah Winfrey’s O Magazine, which listed my book, Arms, among ten books you should pick up this fall.
On Friday, inverse.com put up a short Q&A with me, where I touch on the nineteenth century revolution in firepower, the masculine imperative of the gun culture, and what’s wrong with stand-your-ground laws. You can read that interview here. I also had a chance to talk to a Grade 12 class at Toronto’s Chaminade College about that masculine imperative. And to round out Friday, Publishers’ Weekly listed Arms among its hot Canadian titles.
What’s to come? This week I have a couple of things in the works, which you won’t be able to see until later in the fall (he said, mysteriously). Stay tuned.
This morning I popped up again like a bad penny, this time on CJAD 800’s Tommy Schnurmacher Show.
In a short interview, I touched on Canada’s gun lobby, my reasons for writing the book, and the success of Canadian gun control.
Today, the Windsor Star published an interview I gave a couple of weeks back, on my way back from Detroit.
I told them I’d get hate mail, and I did, right on schedule:
What a sack of lying Liebral CRAP! I suppose his next project will be to remove the locks on people’s homes! This Mother Canucking dipstick doesn’t have a clue and lives in a fantasy World where Unicorns poop glitter.
Well, yes. And let me tell you, glitter is a real pain in the ass to clean up. But it’s a lot easier than mucking out a stable.
The panel included psychiatry professor Dr. Liza Gold, British criminologist Peter Squires, and Wall Street Journal reporter Devlin Barrett. It’s worth a listen. Dr. Gold in particular makes the point I made on Q Friday, that mental illness is a red herring, but of course makes it from a position of much greater authority.
With the release of Arms still two weeks out (September 15), I did a quick interview for CBC radio’s Q this morning, the key question being whether the on-air murders of WDBJ7 journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward would represent a tipping point in the American gun control debate. You can catch that interview here.
As horrifying as these murders were, my answer is no — the same answer I gave following the Sandy Hook massacre. The gun culture is simply too entrenched. In this culture war, our positions are largely immovable. Things will get worse.
Arms — in my household these days, “The Book” — took over my life for much of the past four years. It has been a tough go: the subject is huge, and the story ever-developing. I have been in rewrites right down to the wire. You think you’ve got it done and then something happens out in the world, and it’s back to work — not because what you’d written was wrong, but because whatever just happened needs to go in there, to illustrate the point. But now we’re down to it: the book is out in June.
When I foolishly suggested that a book on the gun culture would be a good fit for Biblioasis’ non-fiction list, people commonly reacted to the idea by remarking that Canada has no gun culture. Since then, Justin Bourque shot three RCMP officers, his shooting spree motivated by ideas borrowed directly from the nuttier extremes of America’s gun culture. And one of Canada’s two main gun lobby groups, the National Firearms Association, reacted to that shooting spree with an ill-timed press release demanding that the government repeal the Firearms Act, a release that glossed neatly over the fact that the NFA itself is the chief importer of those same ideas to Canada. None of that was visible when I set out to do this thing; the NFA, which had been essentially moribund following the death of its former president, was only just pulling itself together again.
No one still believes that Canada has no gun culture. And The Book is getting attention, although it is still four months from hitting bookstore shelves. The Globe & Mail stuck it on their list of fifty most-anticipated books. The Toronto Star put it on their list of twenty-five books they can’t wait to read. And CBC books put it on their fifteen non-fiction books to watch for. Naturally, I have to brag about all that. What else is a writer’s blog for?
Well, there’s not much to brag about. An accident of timing, mostly, partly just because this book has been delayed. But it’s nice to know that people are paying attention.