Oh, how I used to wait for your five names.
Before readers could tweet about you, I camped on your webpage and, with a book in hand, pounded the refresh button religiously with every page turn.
(My tech-minded fella told me it could be harmful to strike the button every Mississippi, so I broke that habit, and synchronized my page-turns with my page-reloads as a favour to my processor, although I still eat cookies that make crumbs on my keyboard, and I understand that’s bad behaviour too.)
But something happened and the spark went out. It wasn’t you, dear Giller Shortlist, it was me.
I had favourites and you weren’t fond of them; you had favourites and I wasn’t keen. We drifted apart.
Soon, when I heard people talking about you, I hardly remembered the good times we’d had together.
And this year, when I heard that you included David Bergen’s The Matter with Morris, I couldn’t help but think back to one of our not-so-good times. In 2005, when you whittled things down to The Time in Between, I felt a distinct coolness between us.
But circumstances alter cases. I was left alone in a room with The Matter with Morris for the better part of an hour.
And, there, I remembered the better parts of our relationship. David Bergen’s new novel reminded me of the good years.
You introduced me to Ann-Marie MacDonald before she gleamed in Oprah’s Bookclub Eye.
You mentioned Shyam Selvadurai and Richard B. Wright, Shani Mootoo and Eliza Clark before anyone else was talking about them.
And I should have listened to you about Rohinton Mistry right off, in 1994 with Such a Long Journey, and not waited until worldwide gushing about A Fine Balance. And taken your advice about Michael Crummey’s River Thieves, way back when, instead of waiting until 2010 to fall in love with Galore (but, wait, why didn’t you love that as much as I did?).
I know, I know, I had to bring it up. See, it is me.
And I didn’t mean to be contentious. I really wanted to focus on the positive. Because, I really did enjoy The Matter with Morris.
But now I’m afraid I’ve soured this by mentioning our troubled past, and what I really meant to do was talk about David Bergen’s novel. And how it’s brought me back to you and your five names.
I will write more another time. Until then, know that I am thinking of you with renewed interest.
Dear Giller Shortlist.