I had a dream the other night. And for once it didn’t involve various breakaway attempts in some murky yet apparently significant hockey game (you know it was important if you wake up with a palpitating heart). Instead, this dream had to do with a mountainous pile of books– the complete Massey Lectures series, in fact. Considering the fact that I devote far more of my waking life to books as opposed to hockey, this was a welcome change in dream matter.
The bookish aspect of my dream has some grounding in reality, since I’ve occasionally thought about seeking out each individual Massey Lecture and piecing the collection together on my bookshelf. Having already acquired the complete New Canadian Library through marriage (and having secured it by pre-nup), the Massey Lectures seem like the next logical collection to amass. The thing is that I like owning crisp books. I don’t mind digging for dingy copies at used book stores, but I’d rather not own them or keep them for very long. Unfortunately (for my highbrow tastes), many of the Massey Lectures I’ve held in hand have been through the wash a few too many times. So you can imagine my astonishment when, unexpectedly, I found myself staring down upon a copy of every single Massey Lecture ever given– each copy freshly printed, every spine yet uncracked. I felt like a pirate gaping over some vast tangible loot; the stuff of wild imaginings suddenly made real.
Except for one thing. All forty five books, to my uttermost consternation and jealousy, were piled high on the bed of the coolest kid from my second grade class. I spent much of my primary school years trying desperately (and very much in vain) to match this classmate’s innate “cool factor.” Now, here we were, as adults, standing in his childhood bedroom beholding the very definition, by nearly everyone’s standards, of “cool”: a complete set of the Massey Lectures. And they were his. All his.
I managed to swallow my jealousy, but it burned like a shot of warm soju. Stepping forward, I grazed my finger along a few copies, keenly interested in taking stock, but aware, also, that I shouldn’t feed his pride with demonstrable astonishment. So I stood still and scanned the collection, as nonchalantly as possible. Standing as such, I noticed a title I had never come across before: Sokcho. The subtitle was indiscernible.
I couldn’t believe that the topic of “Sokcho“, a relatively insignificant port city in northeastern Korea, was deemed interesting enough to garner the attention of Canadians for a four-part radio series and a book format to follow! But I’ve been surprised before. I promptly scooped up the book, intending to scan the back cover for its topical hook. I couldn’t, however, get past the author’s name. Apparently, Sokcho was penned by none other than the current Liberal opposition’s foreign affairs critic and former Ontario Premier, Bob Rae.
At this point, thankfully, my critical thinking skills kicked in and undermined what had been, until Bob Rae’s unlikely appearance, a relatively logical dream sequence. Well, sort of. The reappearance of my childhood idol/nemesis isn’t really logical per se; mostly it just hints at a fairly serious inferiority complex on my part.
But that complex is not stopping me from starting in on a diligent and persistent pursuit of the complete Massey Lectures series the moment my feet return to Canadian soil. If anything, it will provide the not-so-unconscious drive through the used bookstores of the nation. I mean, at the very least, I’ve got to get it before he does!
“The Secret” by in touch
“The Lost Massey Lectures” from amazon.ca
“Bob Rae” by Chris Wattie/Reuters