Literary giant

Photo: Tourism New Brunswick

On the way back from Prince Edward Island this summer, we passed Shediac, NB, home of the world’s largest lobster. Children climb on it. Don’t worry, it’s made of concrete. Watching children climb on a real giant lobster, now for that I would definitely pull off the highway.

A little further on, we passed the exit for Nackawic, home of the world’s largest axe. That’s got to be something to see. We didn’t.

But some people must, otherwise why build these outsized entities – the giant nickel of Sudbury, the giant Ukrainian egg of Vergreville, the giant ego of Jason Kenney?

Meanwhile, back in PEI, we visited Green Gables, not because I’m an 11-year-old girl but because it was free. All national parks were free this past summer to mark Canada’s 150th birthday, and the Anne of Green Gables tourist attraction was on our route, and I was damned if I wasn’t going to get all the patriotic free stuff I could.

That’s how we found ourselves waiting in line to traipse through the heritage home, which turned out to be a low-ceilinged, sparsely furnished hovel that would go for $1.2 million on the Toronto market. And get this: author Lucy Maud Montgomery never even lived there! No, the house was the home to Montgomery’s aunt and uncle, Bud and Vivian Green Gables.

My takeaway from this visit was that, as with oversized everyday objects, there’s a market in literary tourism.

Which got me thinking of my own town here in Stanstead. We need something to draw tourists off the highway. Sure, we have the Stone Circle, but that’s essentially a miniature Stonehenge, and no one wants to see small versions of normal-sized things; just ask my old girlfriends. (Ba-dum-TISHHH!)

What we need in Stanstead is something big, both physically and culturally, something beloved yet awe-inspiring, famous yet approachable, imposing but cuddly.

Stanstead should construct a giant Louise Penny.

This, but bigger.

The award-winning mystery writer is big internationally, so why not make her big in Stanstead? Plus, Louise Penny has built her fame around novels set in a fictionalized Eastern Townships, therefore it’s only fair that the real Eastern Townships should build some fame around a fictionalized Louise Penny.

I know what you’re thinking: “When are sock garters going to make a comeback?” But I bet you’re also thinking that Penny’s Inspector Gamache mysteries are set in a fictionalized Knowlton area, nowhere near Stanstead. I’m sorry, but Knowlton already has the real Louise Penny and the Louise Penny tourist maps and the adorable ducks and an actual, legitimate book store! DOES KNOWLTON HAVE TO HAVE EVERYTHING?

I apologize for the outburst. I’m confident that this would never happen if I had the calming presence of a giant Louise Penny nearby, which, unlike the normal-sized Louise Penny, would be impervious to cold and critics.

We could erect our giant Louise Penny – the World’s Largest Louise Penny! – right next to the American border, the author’s eyes fixed resolutely on U.S. markets and acclaim, which are the only markets and acclaim that matter.

But let’s not get too political about this. The point is that it’s a giant Louise Penny for all to enjoy. Children could climb on Louise Penny, which, as with lobster, they should not be allowed to do in real life.

Because this will be the World’s Largest Louise Penny (and we want it to stay that way), it will have to be really, really big, so big that people could go inside Louise Penny. Imagine a doorway in Louise Penny’s shin leading to a staircase up to her abdomen. Obviously there’d be a book store there, a café serving biscotti and Gamache goulash, and of course a team of detectives on call 24/7.

Up a further set of stairs, tourists could witness a murder scene in Louise Penny’s neck, daily at 1 and 3:30 p.m. For an extra fee, you could stand on top of Louise Penny’s head to scan the landscape – the literary landscape, if you will, though you probably won’t.

The gift shop would do brisk business selling penny candy, penny loafers, Louise Penny pens. Who-donuts. T-shirt that read, “I Climbed to the Top of Louise Penny and All I Got Was This Lousy Deus-Ex-Machina.”

Intriguingly, it would be easy to get into Louise Penny, but how to get out? A bit of a mystery.

People pulling off the highway to take pictures of Louise Penny, families picnicking in the shade of Louise Penny, overnighters staying at the Dead Cold Motel beside Louise Penny – ah, yes, a giant Louise Penny is exactly what Stanstead needs.

Either that or an inflatable Donald Sutherland.

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About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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27 Responses to Literary giant

  1. Letizia says:

    You should be on the board of tourism for your town – I’m booking my ticket!

  2. pinklightsabre says:

    All I got was this lousy deus-ex-machina (Ba-dum-TISSSH!).

  3. Definitely a draw for Americans, I’ll add this to my must-see list, I guess in Quebec a bouquet liste. The gift shop could also sell perfume “Maple Cent” sticky but alluring. I read somewhere that the Canadian Mint (another gift idea) was gradually melting down all your pennies, as part of your drift toward godless socialism, would they cast you one large one?

  4. Carrie Rubin says:

    It’d be like a literary Griswold trip!

    “Children could climb on Louise Penny”–Ha! I’m sure she’d like that. 😄

  5. First of all, the image of you and your beard stubble in a lacy Anne of Green Gables pinafore was NOT soothing. I’m trying to cut DOWN on liquor, you jackanapes.

    Second of all, I can’t believe you went there: “…so big that people could go inside Louise Penny.” How many restraining orders does this poor woman have drive down to the police service and fill out? Does she just have one big one now to add bloggers’ names to every time one goes off his meds?

    Watch from 23:26 to 25:27

  6. Instead of an extra large Louise Penny, how about an extra large with pepperoni, sausage and mushrooms from Steve Pizza?

  7. Danny McAuley says:

    Oy, Murray, are you spying on our council meetings, again? Knowlton already has a giant Louise Penny in the works. They are bulldozing down the bookstore to make room. She will have a giant cafe au lait Jacuzzi for people to take a soothing dip and a giant licorice pipe slide. I would start blowing your giant Sutherland if I were you.

  8. ksbeth says:

    i say you open your house to tourists asap! “murray manic manor?”

  9. How about a giant bowl of poutine???

  10. I’m with you. If it’s made of concrete it isn’t a lobster, is it? They shouldn’t call it that.

    What about a Tim Horton’s? Could Stanstead open one of those? That’d draw them in. Where did I hear that?

    How about a big, rubber Burton Cummings balloon?

    • rossmurray1 says:

      I thought the same thing about the lobster. But the nickel’s not a nickel either, so it’s a slippery slope. (The World’s Largest Slippery Slope)
      Did you know a Tim Horton opened in our town just before I published that thing? The only thing it did was give the locals something else to complain about (“the servers are so stupid!”).
      Rubber Burton Cummings balloon. Say that five times fast.

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