Thursday, June 11, 2015

CBC Cuts Evan Solomon and January Remembers

In Canada this week, Evan Solomon’s firing by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is the biggest entertainment deal going. We’re not going to belabor the story, or even repeat much of it at all. (If you’re in Canada, you can't open a paper or turn on a news program without hearing the story. If you’re not in Canada, you probably won’t even care.) But the National Post offers up these bare bones quite succinctly:
CBC severed ties with Solomon barely an hour after the Toronto Star alleged the 47-year-old took advantage of his position to broker lucrative art deals between a friend and wealthy interview subjects. Power and politics, indeed.
Solomon has denied any wrongdoing and has turned to his union, the Canadian Media Guild, to examine his options.
January Magazine interviewed Solomon in mid-1999 when Crossing the Distance, his first novel, was published. This week, snippets of that interview have been quoted far and wide. From deep in the Post piece quoted above
After attending high school in Toronto, Soloman studied English literature and religious studies at McGill University, a reflection of his interest “in myth and ritual,” as he explained in an interview with January Magazine about his first novel.
“It strikes me that storytelling has always been a sacred thing. The act of literacy was an act of power and through stories we conveyed all of our moral meanings and our power structures and who we were,” he said. 
“Being a journalist you’re telling a story. You’re purveyors of story. That’s our job as journalists.”
A lot of other media outlets used parts of the above quotes, but Jewish culture and lifestyle magazine Forward got a little more creative:
A graduate of McGill University in English literature and religious studies, Solomon once attributed his desire to pursue a career in journalism to his Jewish faith. “I’m Jewish and even as a Jew the people of the Book — the act of the rite of passage into Judaism — is a Bar Mitzvah. You have to learn to read,” he told January Magazine in 1999. “The Jews were the first tribe to have literacy as a rite of passage, which I think is really interesting. So for me all of those things are connected. Being a journalist or an editor or starting a magazine or writing fiction, which I’ve always done. It all has to do with stories.”
And though January’s name got bandied around a lot this week, while journalists searched for Soloman, all of them left the very best quote from that interview behind. Here is is:
Balzac loved writing. He wrote 52 books or something. I write a lot. I can't help it. If you could choose a career, no idiot would choose writing because it's thankless, it's hard, it's basically not a great job. But you do it because that's what you're wired up to do. That's your gig. That's what I'm here to do. When I was writing the book, my family would say, "Why are you doing this? It's killing you? Take a vacation." But this makes me happy. I take a vacation and I go write. I'd rent a cabin and I'd go write for two weeks. Even if I might be kind of broody and moody and an asshole, or something. I've gotten happy.
In light of the events of this week, it seems possible Solomon is holed up in a cabin somewhere. (I certainly would be, in his shoes.) And if he is? Chances are, he’s writing.


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