When you’re reading a book, watching a movie, there is always (or should always be) a little part of your mind that’s reviewing what’s going on, wondering if you’re being fed some b.s., unthruths, etc. Most times when I spot some such bending of reality I just make a mental note to check it out and get some more valid information.
Last week though I fell upon one example that simply made me drop the book and jump to the next on the pile. The book is Pico Iyer’s The Global Soul, a book that is supposed to “decipher the dream-life—the personal impact—of globalization and the rising tide of worldwide displacement.”. Knowing that I was reading a book about mixing cultures, immigration, etc. I was in a mindset that the information related to the subject would be reliable. When I came to the following passage recounting a visit to Toronto I realized I wasn’t (emphasis mine):
So “New Canadians” from Rwanda and Bulgaria and Afghanistan joined several groups of fugitives who didn’t even show up on many charts: Americans who’d come here to escape the Vietnam war (and colored the city now with their impenitent idealism); 300,000 Anglophile refugees from Montreal, in flight from Quebec’s violently anti-English language policies, and others (from Palestine, say)…
Such a passage in a novel would be “fine”, I’d just snicker, but in a non-fiction book who’s main subject it intermixing cultures? I don’t think so. Too exagerated and misinformerd, didn’t give me confidence in what else he was saying.