Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015


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The other night I went to sleep with the sound of zombies being mown down by massive automatic weapons. The witch zombies in particular were screaming horribly as they died. One of my teenage boys was playing one of his endless series of apocalyptic XBox games. I asked him to turn the sound down.

"Hey, Mom," he said cheerfully, "I've already killed 2,000 zombies tonight."

These games make me shudder for many reasons, the main one being I don't like my teenager having a kill count. But this is the 21st century and this is what boys (and a lot of girls) do.

My sons have played dozens of games, some benign fantasies and some disturbing shooter fests. But what they all have in common is a sense of irony and gallows humour. The macho dialogue is often subtly self-deprecating. As for the post-nuclear zombie games, my 13-year-old explained to me, "Duh, I like it because it isn't real, Mom."

What I don't see in current literature is much reflection of this boyworld. I don't just mean mean specific novels focusing on boy culture, but a more general acknowledgement of their very different experience of story.

For example:
BOY: Initiating command sequence.
MOM: do you want to help me ice the cake?
BOY: Depending on how the battle is going. I don't know where I am. I don't know if it's just a famine or a nuclear winter. I'm being chased by robots.
MOM: Oh dear.
BOY: Is everybody dead? Crap, everybody's dead. Whatever, I'll play again later. Is there cake?'

1 comment

Actually there is a lot of boy literature centered around gaming. My son read novels based on the game Warcraft for a long time. They essentially expand upon the fantasy land and characters in the game. And currently he is eating up Star Wars novels that continue the plot line where the movies left off in order to round out the imaginary experience of playing the Star Wars games.

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Sheree-Lee Olson

Sheree-Lee Olson is a Canadian novelist, poet and journalist. Her first novel, Sailor Girl, was published in 2008 by The Porcupine's Quill.

Go to Sheree-Lee Olson ’s Author Page