Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Guido Lit

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I’m waiting for Snooki’s Confessions of a Guidette to hit the bargain or remainder bins in one of those pop-up bookstores downtown that carry crap loads of books that no one cares for too much. The title officially came out in late October, but there’s no way in hell I’d buy it at its normal retail price. While you were struggling to be heard by the literati, sifting through rejection letters from your first manuscript, Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi has been cranking out novels and “how-to” guides. Guido Lit is here to stay! Not sure what Guido Lit is? Neither am I. But somebody’s publishing this pap. Need proof? Over the last few years, we’ve (sadly) been greeted by Guido guidebooks to “creeping on chicks” (Here’s the Situation) by such stellar wordsmiths like Mike Sorrentino. Or how about Fist Pump: An In-Your-Face Guide to Going Guido. While you were out loading up on mediocre graphic novel adaptations and remixed classics, you might’ve been missing out on the “the nation’s hottest subculture.” That time spent obsessing over ebook reader options could’ve been better spent tanning and /or working on those “pecs bro.” The dregs of reality tv have slithered their influence over to bookstore shelves. And to inner-city malls.

I found this out the hard way. I was putzing out at Dufferin Mall in the city’s west end recently, looking for some pre-holiday steals. That mall is “hood yo.” And I love it. In this venue, the line blurs between looking for steals and just plain out stealing. There’s no J. Crew here, only crews of thugs into Pitbull. Ben Sherman would get jacked up if he gave the wrong look to one of them store clerks. Customer Service does not live here. Case in point. A few months ago, I got sucked into buying one of those Wind Mobile “unlimited” everything (text, talk, data) plans. I asked one of the clerks at those ubiquitous mall kiosks if I could try out the new Blackberry Curve smart phone device on site, and he looked at me funny. He said they don’t have any sample phones anyone can hold and / or look at, because they’d inevitably get stolen. Like, who the eff steals sample phones from those Mobilicity / Wind / Public Mobile / (insert name of mobile company with an unlimited something plan here) kiosks? Maybe someone from the same stock of scum that robbed those poppy donation boxes. And aren’t these sample phones at those kiosks usually attached to chains, so it’d be difficult to run off with these mobile devices?

Anyway, Dufferin Mall grime notwithstanding, I saw this curious looking male object at the mall. There was gel everywhere, and he walked with a slight limp. His neck couldn’t be seen, because was walking toward me sporting a loose-fitting turtleneck top, and, like, who wears those? As he got near to me (cue Twilight Zone theme music), I felt like I was going into a time warp, headed on a one-way trip back to an awful time — the ‘80s! It was a Gino! A-ha, I thought. That must be who’s buying these titles! I have lived through and witnessed a whack of subcultural social groups in my time: greasers, new wavers, socias, tweeters, Goths, hip hoppers, iPhoners. The Socias might’ve been the most curious of the lot (it’s true, some Upper Canada College and Forest Hill kids were all thugged out back then, they would fight over the right to maintain firm control over their one percent). A Matter of Principle by Conrad Black would be a good stocking stuffer for these folkies. But honestly, I didn’t know this potential readership existed for Sir Sorrentino. I thought that Ginos had gone the way of Sony Walkmans and My Little Pony. Gone. Ghost. Outta here. With no turning back. Then lo and behold, this dude appears out of nowhere (or the Dufferin Mall).

Snooki’s readership was cultivated near the neighborhood where I attended Oakwood Collegiate high school, around St. Clair Ave. West. Though the St. Clair West of my youth and today is quite different. Not only has it been gentrified, but it’s also been Ginofied! Meaning, too many of the Ginos and Ginas I grew up with have been pushed out to the ‘burbs (or Woodbridge). After having attended high school with the alleged sons of mafia dons, it’s kinda like bada boom bada bing youknowhai’msayin’? While many celebrity authors ain’t Atwood, Lauren Conrad is for real, and Snooki’s advance money is nothing to sniff at. So don’t hate the player, hate the game.

Dalton Higgins is a music programmer, pop culture critic, author, broadcaster and national magazine award-winning journalist. He is Canada’s foremost expert on hip hop culture. In addition to writing numerous articles for Canadian and US print and on-line magazines, he is the author of Hip Hop World (Groundwood Books/House of Anansi) and co-author of Hip Hop (Thomson Nelson) and Much Master T: A VJ’s Journey (ECW Press). As a broadcaster, Dalton has hosted his own TV show and has appeared as a pundit on every major Canadian network. You can visit Dalton at his blog. His most recent book is Fatherhood 4.0: iDad Applications Across Cultures (Insomniac Press).

The views expressed in the magazine are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book

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