Reviewers compare York grad’s first novel to Richler

With an Irish-Italian parentage, Steven Hayward, an Ontario born-and-bred, US-based academic, is winning plaudits for a first novel in the vein of Mordecai Richler, wrote a Globe and Mail reviewer June 28. What’s odd about the comparisons drawn between Richler’s salty oeuvre and Hayward’s recently released The Secret Mitzvah of Lucio Burke (Knopf Canada) is that, like the book’s young protagonist, the author is a fusion of Irish and Italian – not Jewish.

Like Lucio Burke, his 17-year-old protagonist, Hayward grew up (in Richmond Hill) struck by what looked, from his vantage point as an outsider, as “the coherence of Jewish culture.” Burke “appropriates the idea of the mitzvah in such a way that it allows him to operate in an ethical manner. That was very much my experience as a kid growing up with half a name and wondering, where do I fit in.” Now 35, Hayward is an assistant professor of English literature at John Carroll University in Cleveland. Language spills from him in great joyful bursts, wrote the reviewer. His sentences often combine everyday jargon such as “like” and “ya know” with dense, multisyllabic explications on meta-theatricality and the origins of terms like “performance” and “act” – the subject of Hayward’s 2001 PhD thesis on Shakespeare at York University.

Kudos to public health minister

“It’s certainly not my role as a loyal member of Jack Layton’s Toronto-Danforth NDP riding association to defend any Liberal minister. But Hugh Winsor’s fix on Minister of Public Health Carolyn Bennett is so palpably wrong as to require comment (An Annus Horribilis For Martin And His So-Called Stars – June 27),” wrote Dennis Raphael, undergraduate program director at York’s School of Health Policy & Management, in a letter to The Globe and Mail June 28. “Bennett has personally spearheaded the effort to restore Canada’s leadership role in public health by carrying out a massive public consultation on public-health goals. She has crisscrossed Canada in support of this effort. And she has restored Canada’s presence on the international population-health scene by her active support of the World Health Organization’s Commission on the Social Determinants of Health and the European Strategy for Public Health. If she has not been the focus of Ottawa watchers, it is for good reason. She is actually doing something worthwhile.”

Drug companies seek drug solutions

“The drug companies have no financial incentive to research a problem that doesn’t have a drug solution – and in fact, a patented drug solution,” says Dr. Joel Lexchin, a drug safety expert at York University’s School of Health Policy & Management, reported the Hamilton Spectator June 28 in a series on pharmaceutical drugs and drug-company sponsored research.

Student becomes Brant’s Green Party candidate

A York University political science student will carry the colours for the Green Party in Brant riding in the next federal election, reported the Brantford Expositor June 28. “I was struck by how innovative their ideas are,” said Adam King, a Brantford native who has completed three years of study in York University’s Glendon bilingual college. King spent much of his childhood in Bangladesh while his parents worked for an Association of Baptist non-governmental organization that was running a hospital. He is co-founder of group called Students for Good Governance, which seeks accountability and transparency in government. He is lead guitarist and singer in False Heroics, an alternative rock group, runs his own graphics design and marketing company, and works for a nutraceutical contracting company.

Animation school offers drawing classes

At a private animation school called Max The Mutt students get classical training before they touch a computer, reported the Toronto Star June 28. “I did a bachelor of fine art at York [in 2002] planning to go into animation,” says 25-year-old Marie-Eve Provencal, who’s entering her fourth year at MTM. “I had applied to Sheridan, but didn’t get in. I’m glad now. Here you get exposed to things that you wouldn’t elsewhere. Even at York, we barely ever worked with models,” she said.

Student teaches ups and downs of roller coaster construction

York student Aldo Parise has been building roller coaster replicas out of K’NEX in his basement for nine years and will be teaching the ups and downs of coaster construction at the Ontario Science Centre, reported the Toronto Star June 28. Parise, 27, lives with his parents in Bolton. He works part-time as a sorting clerk at a downtown post office and, after six years of study, plans to graduate from York’s Fine Arts Cultural Studies Program in the spring of 2006.

Kate Hollett’s art from the heart

Few Canadian artists make a living making art, and fewer still do it without the help of arts council grants. Kate Hollett, then, is a rare find. “I was raised to believe it didn’t matter what you did as long as you made money,” she said in a National Post interview published June 28. She put her heart on the block at a Tuesday fundraiser for Literature for Life, at which she was to cut an abstract of her heart into pieces to be auctioned. A design graduate of George Brown College, Hollett also earned a BA in psychology from York in 1995. She drifted into the ad business, launched Bentwater Design and she had her first exhibition in 1994.

On air

  • During Toronto’s Pride Week, David Phipps, a member of York’s sexual and gender diversity advisory committee, discussed sexual and gender diversity in the broader lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community, on CFTR’s “680 News” June 24.
  • Neil Brooks, professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, joined a panel discussion about Tax Freedom Day and the current benefits of Canada’s tax system, on Report on Business TV’s “Squeezeplay” June 27.