Don’t forget those put behind bars

Linden MacIntyre was in town a few nights ago, giving a reading from his new novel, “Punishment.”
I bought a copy of his book; he signed it, smiled at me as I thanked him.
We’re friends now. I’m pretty sure that’s all it takes.
Mr. MacIntyre has been a journalist for 50 years. He’s seen a lot and interviewed a great many people—some interesting, some not so much. Apparently, according to Mr. MacIntyre, Shirley Temple and Perry Como fall under the heading of “not so much.”
I was mortally wounded by that statement but managed to shake it off. I’m sure he just caught them on a bad day, or perhaps nice people who live relatively ordinary lives don’t catch a journalist’s eye.
I’m reading his book and I’m well into it (somewhere around page 146 or 147). It’s interesting; the backdrop is the very real Gulf War and how the world was pulled into it.
MacIntyre doesn’t pull any punches and I would guess the story he tells is a very accurate one.
Quite a crowd turned out to hear Mr. MacIntyre speak and of the whole group, most of the heads were white, accounting for MacIntyre’s experience and longevity and how many of us have followed his stories and his work through the many years.
He has won eight Gemini Awards, an Emmy, and other acknowledgments of his writing skill and his abilities as a journalist. And, of course, he won the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2009 with his novel, “The Bishop’s Man.”
He read from his novel for about 15 minutes and then invited us to ask questions. Some questions were about the novel and about his writing process.
All writers seem to want to ask that question as if the answer will provide some secret—some tip—that will launch us all on to the platform of the published.
But many of the questions were about his experience with the CBC, with “The Fifth Estate,” “The Journal,” and “Sunday Morning on CBC Radio,” and when he was often a guess host of “The Current” on CBC Radio.
He has worked hard at his craft of getting to the truth and then writing about it.
What struck me as he answered questions in his straightforward style, without a lot of fuss and fancy, is that Linden MacIntyre is most certainly a decent man—a man who cares about the true story, about justice, about honesty and integrity.
And I found myself wishing we had more time; that he would have talked on for several more hours so that I could hear what he had to say about this world, about our country.
His current novel deals with those in the prison system, on the inside and those guarding the walls. Over the years, Mr. MacIntyre visited most of Canada’s prisons and some of them are grim—a hopeless place, not easy to observe, haunting.
We sometimes forget about those put behind bars, out of sight, and I don’t think we give a lot of thought to how these individuals got there; how their childhood experiences derailed their chance for a safe life, one that contributes.
We should. We should think about those when considering how we are going to save the world.
wendistewart@live.ca

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